This outline is also available in PDF.
Held: Wednesday, 23 January 2008
Today we begin to consider the structure and content of the course. We
also prepare ourselves to use the Linux workstations.
- Lessons from day one.
- Common parts of an algorithm.
- About the course.
- Getting started with Linux.
- Some administrative details.
What, if anything, did you learn from the drawing exercise?
- As you may have noted, there are some common aspects to algorithms.
That is, there are techniques that we use in many of the algorithms
- It is worthwhile to think about these algorithm parts
because we can rely on them when we write new algorithms.
- As we write algorithms, we like to name things.
- Sometimes we use long names, such as
the piece of bread in
your dominant hand.
- Sometimes, we use shorter names, such as
- As we start to write more formal algorithms, we will need
techniques for noting which names we are using and indicating
what they name (and, sometimes, what kind of thing they name).
- We call these named values variables, even though they
don't always vary.
- We need to be careful to use unambiguous names. Recall the
problems with using
it in your descriptions.
- Many algorithms take data as input (and generate other data
- Your smiley-face algorithms might take the size of the face (or board)
find square root algorithm would take a number as input.
look up a telephone number algorithm might take a phone
book and a name to lok for as inputs.
- In each case, the algorithm should works on many different inputs.
- The algorithm works as long as the input is
reasonable (we can't find the square root of a smiley face
and we can't draw a circle with pi).
- We call these inputs parameters.
- At times, our algorithms have to account for different conditions, doing
different things depending on those conditions.
- In our smiley-face algorithm, we might check what kind of face we want
to draw, or whether the marker is open or closed. We call such
- Conditionals typically take either the form
if some condition holds then do something
- Here's a slightly more complex form
if some condition holds then do something otherwise
do something else
- At times, we need to decide between more than two possibilities.
Typically, we organize those as a sequence of tests (called guards)
and corresponding things to do.
- At times, our algorithms require us to do something again and again.
- In the turtle drawing, we had to repeatedly draw a small line and turn a
- We call this technique
- Again, repetition takes many forms.
- We might do work until we've reached a desired state.
- We might continue work as long as we're in some state.
- We might repeat an action a fixed number of times.
- You can probably think of many other forms of repetition.
- Many algorithms require common actions for their operation.
- For example, the circle group relied on a "draw a circle" routine.
- The pixel group could immediately use the circle group's
solution by simply writing their own draw a circle routine".
- We can write additional algorithms for these common actions and
use them as part of our broader algorithm.
- We can also use them in other algorithms.
- We call these helper algorithms
- Computer Science 151 has a number of goals
- To introduce you to fundamental ideas of computer science: abstraction,
algorithms, and data
- To enhance your problem-solving skills and give you experience
in formal representation of problems and solutions.
- To introduce you to two primary paradigms of problem solving:
functional and imperative.
- To give you some programming skills that you can apply to problems
in other disciplines.
- I expect and hope that you will find CSC151 different from any class
you've taken in the past.
- We use a different format than many classes: a collaborative,
workshop-style format. (You may have seen this format in other
introductory science courses; we do it somewhat differently.)
- Computers and computer science also require you to think differently.
I expect that you'll exercise some brain cells you may have forgotten
you have. (And after all, isn't liberal arts education an exercise
in thinking in as many ways as you can?)
- Like most computer science courses, CSC151 will have both theoretical
and practical components. I hope you will enjoy relating the two.
- This year, we're trying something new. Many (perhaps most) of the
work we do will focus on making or manipulating images.
- We'll break about midway through today's class to get you set up
working in the MathLAN.
- This "lab prep" is somewhat pointless and annoying, but also necessary.
- Do the lab.
- I am not sure whether or not I will cover these topics in class.
They are included for your edification.
- Please refer to the course web site
for more details.
- Teaching philosophy: I support your learning.
- Attendance: I expect you to attend every class. I understand that
sometimes you have to miss. Let me know
when you'll miss class and why.
- Grading: I'm a hard grader. I don't grade everything.
- Course web.
- Daily work
- Attend class, work on lab and participate in discussion.
- Finish the lab in the evening.
- Do the reading for the next class in the evening.
- The quizzes
- Every Friday, plus a few pop quizzes
- The exams
- Three take-home exams during the semester. Plan to spend
four hours on each one.
- An optional final to make up for a bad exam grade.
- Take all three exams anyway.
- The labs
- Available online.
- I may require more formal writeups of a few labs a semester.
- The homework
- Weekly, due on Wednesdays
- Academic honesty
- Core to the academic process.
- My basic policy: Don't cheat.
- The college's basic policy: Cite carefully.
- Read my handout on
academic honesty carefully.