brick CS110A CS131A CS177 CS198 CS199
Instructor Aaron Brick,
M.I.M.S., Berkeley, 2005; B.S., Johns Hopkins, 2000
Batmale 462, office hours Tuesday, 4 – 6
Personal web site:

Assignments. Expect assignments released Sunday night at midnight and due exactly one week later. Programs must operate correctly on the student server; they earn a score which is 50% correctness and 25% each timeliness and style. Source code or response text for each assignment must be submitted using the ~abrick/send program. Submissions and resubmissions after the assignment's due date cannot earn full timeliness credit, which diminishes by one quarter each day an assignment is late. No assignments at all are accepted after the due date of the semester's last assignment. If my systems or I are incapacitated or cannot receive student work, no lateness penalties will be assessed.

Caveats.All dates, scores, and texts published on this site are provisional. Please inquire if you think there may be an error.

Contact.I am always available to students by email and at my office hours. I generally respond to messages within three working days. Make contact with me on LinkedIn when you pass one of my courses.

Enrollment.I offer add codes at my office to any students, wait listed or not, who need one during the first two weeks of a course that can accomodate them. You are responsible for dropping yourself if you decide to leave the class.

Exams.Expect two comprehensive exams per semester, each one hour in duration and consisting of five conceptual and technical problems. Books, notes, and computers are permitted. You will not be asked to compose complete programs. Students in my online classes must attend on-campus exams proctored by the instructor. Prepare for exams by reviewing the assigned reading. Late exams will not be given, so alternative scheduling arrangements must be made in advance. You can review your exam at my office hours or receive a copy of it in the mail by turning it in with a self-addressed stamped envelope. Ranked-choice voting assesses project success for scores in project courses.

Extra Credit.To earn extra credit, catch up on your homework assignments and propose to me an interesting and/or useful project you want to pursue.

Grades.Your current grades and detailed comments on your work will be published on this web page through the semester. Mouse over an italicized score to see details pop up in a tooltip. A raw final score of 50% homework (hw) and 25% each exams (ex) and participation (ppn) is curved against those of all other enrollees; the first quintile earns an A, the second a B, and so on.

Help.We all need help, all the time. Class forums (when in use) provide a space for rapid interchange of short messages between you and your colleagues. The Academic Computing Resource Center in Batmale Hall offers orientations and peer tutoring. Lastly, you may always come to the instructor's office hours for a conversation about the problem.

In-person classes.Studying in person, on campus, means having more personal interaction and interchange with your peers and instructor. This context is conducive to making friends and asking questions.

Independent Study.I supervise some independent study projects. They have to be useful and serious to be worth our time. Propose your project to me in person so that we can discuss it.

Online classes.Online study is a learning experience suited for self-starters and remote learners. While doing the same readings and assignments as your peers in an in-person class, you will be expected to communicate with peers and instructor at least weekly in a message forum, and to attend two evening exams on campus per semester. There is always an optional evening orientation when the course begins.

Participation.Expect to participate by cooperating in work, asking questions, citing resources, and assisting your colleagues. Your participation in forums and classes alike will be assessed using secret, random participation tokens which you must redeem using the ~abrick/send program. In project classes, participation scores will be calculated at semester's end by ranked-choice voting within each team.

Philosophy.Computer Science is a technical field like architecture, in which a work's usefulness and beauty usually matter more to us than the techniques used to make it. Knowledge of those techniques does, however, enable us to address interesting art, business, and research questions. These problems can be solved by any programming language or on any operating system, using the same strategic principles.

Plagiarism.All students must do their own work. If you turn in plagiarized work, be prepared to receive a zero or negative credit, depending on the degree of fraudulence involved.

Programming Style.Learning to program requires learning good style. A program earning a low style score might exhibit compilation or runtime errors; lack sufficient comments in the source code; violate norms of indentation, block separation, or name capitalization; or contain redundant, copy-and-pasted code. A program earning a high score will throw no errors, have copious comments, good indentation and capitalization, and be concise.

Server and Login.You will use the student Linux server; your initial password will consist of your birthdate and first & last initials in mmmddyy.ii form; e.g., the password of someone named X.Y.Z. who was born on 1/1/1988 would be jan0188.xz. Your password will not be shown as you type it, and you will have to change your password upon your first login. A simple editor you can use is nano; a more powerful and difficult one is vim. Alternately, load the file over the network from another machine and test to ensure it works on hills.