brick CS110A CS131A CS177 CS198 CS199 CS231
Instructor Aaron Brick,
M.I.M.S., Berkeley, 2005; B.S., Johns Hopkins, 2000
Batmale 462, office hours Monday, 10 – 12
Personal web site:

Assignments.Assignments are due some Sunday nights at midnight. Programs must operate correctly on the student server. Two thirds of an assignment grade is correctness; two ninths is timeliness and one ninth is 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 linearly from 1 to 0 in the week after an assignment is due. 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. Compare to exercises.

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. You can 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. Prepare for exams by reviewing the assigned reading. Late exams will not be given, but early ones can be taken at my office hours in advance of the exam date. Afterwards, you can also 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.

Exercises.Exercises are ungraded work which need not be turned in. Compare to assignments.

Curiosity.Excellence in programming requires curiosity. Designing, implementing, and debugging programs are all supported by active imagination: would the user prefer Y instead of X? Could Z be the reason for the observed behavior? These questions are essential because useful computer programming is novel; the basic stuff has already been written. See help.

Extra Credit.To earn extra credit while enrolled in my class, catch up on your homework assignments and propose to me an interesting or useful project you want to pursue. See also independent study.

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. (If this does not work in your browser, one workaround is to read the page source.) Two thirds of the raw grade is homework; two ninths are exam(s) and one ninth is participation. Each raw score is ranked to calculate a percentile which is compressed into the top third of the scale. A final score is the mean of the raw score and the compressed percentile. A, B, C, and D grades represent final scores in the first, second, third, and fourth deciles.

Help.We all need help, all the time. Every course has group discussion in a classroom or an online forum. The Academic Computing Resource Center in Batmale Hall offers orientations and peer tutoring. You may always come to the instructor's office hours with your questions and without making an appointment.

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 group discussion, but requires class attendance at certain hours, which is logistically challenging for many students. See also online classes.

Independent Study.I supervise independent study projects. They have to be useful, novel, and serious to be worth our time. Propose your project to me in person so that we can discuss it. See also extra credit. Here are some project ideas to get you started: a tally of the property taxes paid on each city block; a ranked-choice peer evaluation system; a model of the flight of a Frisbee; an improved search API for MediaWiki; a microtonal tilt audiogame; a long-running location detection app.

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. There is always an optional evening orientation when the course begins, and no campus attendance is required. See also in-person classes.

Participation.Expect to participate by cooperating in work, asking questions, citing resources, and assisting your colleagues. Your participation in forums and classes will be assessed using secret, random participation tokens which you redeem using the ~abrick/send program. In-person classes may receive as many as one token per meeting; online classes as many as one token per week. Your participation in projects will be calculated based on your colleagues' collective judgment of your contribution.

Plagiarism.All students must do their own work. If you turn in plagiarized work, be prepared to receive a zero or even negative credit at the instructor's discretion. See the Rules of Student Conduct.

Schedule. Every week is named and contains resources or tasks. Begin with the assigned reading, and in an online class, read the Instructor’s Notes afterwards. Use class time or the class forum to clear up anything you found mysterious. Exercises and assignments are designed to be tackled using each week's own concepts and techniques.

Services. You will need to access the student Linux server using an ssh client. On Linux and Mac systems one is preinstalled with the name ssh. On Windows you can try PuTTY and on Android, ConnectBot; any alternative is fine. Your hills username is the same as your CCSF email name: up to eight characters long. Your initial password is based on your birthday and first and last initials, in the form jan0188.fl. Passwords will not be shown as you type them, and you will have to change the default right away. If you mean to connect wirelessly on campus, the network to use is CCSF Student.

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, 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. In Python, triple-quoted strings, which are true objects, are excluded from the comment assessment.