COSC-111: Introduction to Computer Science I

Spring 2018

Home    Schedule and Assignments

Course Information

Meeting times: MW 12-12:50pm (lecture), F 12-12:50pm (Section 1) OR 1-1:50pm (Section 2) (lab)
Location: MW: Seeley Mudd 206, F: Seeley Mudd 014
Prerequisites: None. If you have some prior programming experience, please come talk to me so we can determine if you should instead take COSC-112, Introduction to Computer Science II.

Overview: This is a first course in computer science, designed for students who have no prior computer science or programming experience. The goal of the course is to provide a foundation in the ideas and techniques that are used in computer science. Much of the course focuses on learning to program in Java, but a programming language is really just a tool to tell the computer what to do. The greater (and more interesting) challenge is figuring out an algorithm---a sequence of clearly defined steps---that enables you to solve the problem at hand. In this course we will see the basics of how to break a problem down into smaller tasks, how to put the pieces together to design an algorithm, and how to write a program that tells the computer how to solve a problem using your algorithm.

Contact Information

Kristy Gardner
Office: 405 Seeley Mudd
Phone: 413-542-5428
Web site
Office hours: Monday and Thursday 3:30-5:30pm. Sign up for a 15-minute office hours slot here (please only sign up for one slot per week to ensure that other students can also sign up for times). I am often available at other times by appointment; send me an email if you'd like to meet outside of my regular office hours.

TA evening help sessions (in Seeley Mudd 014): Sunday 7-9pm (Hunter, Kathleen, and Patrick), Wednesday 8:30-10:30pm (Laura), and Thursday 7-9pm (Daniel, Hea Rim, and Wilson)

Recommended Textbook

There is no required textbook, but the following book (written by Prof. McGeoch) is a good reference that closely follows the topics covered in this course:

Java Programming, by Lyle McGeoch. Available online on Prof. McGeoch's web site


1. Labs (20%). There will be weekly assignments, introduced in lab each Friday and usually due one week later.

2. Midterm exams (15% each). There will be two in-class midterm exams, the first in late February and the second in early April.

3. Final exam (20%). There will be a cumulative final exam, scheduled during exam week.

4. Projects (30%). There will be three projects assigned during the semester. These are larger programming assignments that will incorporate all of the concepts we discuss this semester.

I will not take attendance and you will not be explicitly graded on participation, but participating in class (or not) can help (or hurt) you should you end up on the border between two grades. I strongly encourage you to attend all class meetings. You likely will find it difficult to keep up with the material if you do not come to class, and I will not use office hours time to teach you material from lectures that you decided to skip. In particular, it is in your best interest not to skip lab, because this is when you will get a chance to practice the ideas we discuss in lecture with myself and the course TAs present to help if you get stuck.

Deadlines, late days, and extensions: Each lab and project must be submitted using the submission web site by the day and time at which it is due. You may take 5 late days during the semester. These can be used for any reason, without penalty, and you do not need to ask me or tell me that you are using them. You may use up to 2 late days on any individual assignment. If an assignment is more than 2 days late, or if you have used up all of your late days, you will lose 10% on the assignment for each additional day that your submission is late. I will grant additional extensions only if I hear from your class dean or doctor that you are facing extenuating medical or personal circumstances.

Intellectual Responsibility

In general, you are expected to do your own work in this class unless otherwise specified. You may discuss how to approach assignments with other students who are currently taking the class, but all code must be your own. Do not look at other students' code, and do not show your code to other students. If you discuss an assignment with other students in the class, please note their names in a comment at the top of your submission. You do not need to note if you consulted with me or the course TAs. Do not discuss assignments with anyone other than myself, the course TAs, and students currently enrolled in the class, and do not look for solutions on the internet. Exams must be completed individually.

If you are struggling...

Please come see me. In addition to my office hours and the TA-led evening help sessions, the Dean of Students office offers peer tutoring if we decide you would benefit from some extra time spent one-on-one with a peer tutor. Should you need support related to challenges beyond this course, I encourage you to seek help from the numerous resources available on campus, including but not limited to your class dean, your RC, the health center, and the counseling center.

If you have a documented disability that requires accommodations, you will need to contact Accessibility Services ( or 413-542-2337). After you have arranged your accommodations with Accessibility Services, please set up a time to meet with me to discuss how we can best implement your accommodations in this class.