COSC-211: Data Structures

Spring 2018

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Course Information

Meeting times: MWF 9-9:50am
Location: Seeley Mudd 206
Prerequisites: COSC-111 (Introduction to Computer Science I) or the equivalent at another institution.

Overview: A fundamental problem in computer science is that of organizing data so that it can be ussed effectively. This course introduces basic data structures and their applications. Major themes are the importance of abstraction in program design and the separation of specification and implementation. Program correctness and algorithm complexity are also considered. Data structures for lists, stacks, queues, dictionaries, sets, and graphs are discussed. This course will be taught in Java.

Contact Information

Kristy Gardner
Office: 405 Seeley Mudd
Phone: 413-542-5428
Web site
Office hours: Monday and Thursday 2:30-3:30pm. I am also often available at other times by appointment; send me an email if you are not available during my regular office hours and would like to meet at an alternative time.

TA evening help sessions (in Seeley Mudd 014): Tuesday 7-9pm (Terence, Roy, and Cole), Thursday 5:30-7:30pm (Cole and Jamie)

Recommended Textbook

There is no required textbook, but the following book is a good reference:

Open Data Structures (in Java), by Pat Morin. Available online here (click on the links to the Java edition)


1. Homework (40%). There will be homework assignments roughly weekly. Mos t of these will be programming assignments, but a few may be written.

Deadlines, late days, and extensions: Homework must be submitted using the submission web site (programming assignments) or in class (written assignments) 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.

2. Midterm exams (15% and 20%). There will be two in-class midterm exams, the first in late February and the second in late March. The exam on which you receive a lower score will be worth 15% of your grade, and the exam on which you receive a higher score wll be worth 20% of your grade.

3. Final exam (25%). There will be a cumulative final exam, scheduled during exam week.

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.

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 and written work must be your own. Do not look at other students' work, and do not show your work 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.