Computer Science 116
The Computational Universe

Spring 2007

Princeton University
Computer Science Department

General | Syllabus | Readings | Handouts | Assignments| Labs | Extras

Course Summary

Computers have brought the world to our fingertips. We will try to understand at a basic level the science -- old and new -- underlying this new Computational Universe. Our quest takes us on a broad sweep of scientific knowledge and related technologies: propositional logic of the ancient Greeks (microprocessors); quantum mechanics (silicon chips); network and system phenomena (internet and search engines); computational intractability (secure encryption); and efficient algorithms (genomic sequencing). Ultimately, this study makes us look anew at ourselves -- our genome; language; music; "knowledge"; and, above all, the mystery of our intelligence.

This course satisfies Princeton's Science and Technology (with Lab) Distribution requirement.


Administrative Information

Lectures: Professor:

Teaching Assistants:

Course staff email:

Office Hours:


Course blog:


Lab reports and homeworks are due in the appropriately marked box at the start of lecture. Lab reports are due Tuesday the week after the lab was finished. Homeworks are due Thursday. Please do not send us emailed reports and homework---we cannot handle the email volume. (One exception is the first lab report, which is blogged online.)

Extensions will be available if you send email to before the assignment/lab is due, explaining the circumstance that necessitates it. (Illness, absences due to sports, etc., must be documented with a note/email from a college administrator or suitable official.) Otherwise late homeworks/reports will receive 50% of the points (or even less if very late).

Missing a lab? Please try to make it up during the other scheduled session the same week. If there is a reason you cannot attend either lab session during that week, please send email to explaining the circumstance and we will work out an alternative arrangement.

Collaboration policy: You may discuss the labs and assignments with other students, and you may ask for help from the professor or the TAs. However, you are not allowed to copy any part of another student’s answers.

Course plan

The (ever evolving) syllabus is now here.