Princeton University
Computer Science Department

Computer Science 217
Introduction to Programming Systems

Jaswinder Pal Singh

Fall 2009

General Information | Schedule | Assignments | Announcements | Policies


Lecture attendance is mandatory. You will be responsible for the material presented in every lecture. Some of that material will not be in the textbooks.


Precept attendance is mandatory. As with lectures, you will be responsible for the material presented in every precept. Some of that material will not be in the textbooks.

Assignments: Late Submission

You should submit your work on an assignment (electronically) before its due time. If you submit your work late, we will give you credit for it on this scale:

If an assignment consists of multiple files, then we will consider the date/time of submission of your work as a whole to be the same as the date/time of submission of the last file that you submit.

We will grant extensions only in the case of illness (with a doctor's note) or extraordinary circumstances. If illness or an extraordinary circumstance will cause you to submit an assignment late, then you should discuss the matter with your preceptor as soon as possible. Please plan your work on the assignments so that travel, religious holidays, etc. do not cause you to submit it late. Heavy workload is not an extraordinary circumstance.

You have one "late pass" that allows you to submit any one assignment up to three days late without penalty. If you wish to use your late pass on an assignment, you must tell your preceptor via e-mail before the assignment's due date/time.

Some of the assignments will involve working in teams. You may use your late pass on a team assignment if and only if all of your teammates use their late passes on that assignment. (The implication is that you may not use your late pass on a team assignment if any one of your teammates has already used his/her late pass.) If you wish to use your late pass on a team assignment, you and each of your teammates must tell the pertinent preceptors via e-mail before the assignment's due date/time.

Assignments: Collaboration

The policies described in this section supplement the University's academic regulations, making explicit what constitutes a violation for this course. Princeton's Rights, Rules, Responsibilities handbook asserts:

The only adequate defense for a student accused of an academic violation is that the work in question does not, in fact, constitute a violation. Neither the defense that the student was ignorant of the regulations concerning academic violations nor the defense that the student was under pressure at the time the violation was committed is considered an adequate defense.

If you have any questions about these matters, please consult a course staff member. Violators will be referred to the Committee on Discipline for review.

The COS 217 assignment collaboration policy is derived from that of Princeton's COS 126 course...

Concerning receiving help from others...

Programming is an individual creative process much like composition. You must reach your own understanding of the problem and discover a path to its solution. During this time, discussions with other people are permitted and encouraged. However, when the time comes to write code that solves the problem, such discussions (except with course staff members) are no longer appropriate: the code must be your own work. If you have a question about how to use some feature of C, Unix, etc., you certainly can ask your friends or the teaching assistants, but specific questions about code you have written must be treated more carefully.

For each assignment you must specifically state, in your readme file, the names of any individuals from whom you received help, and the nature of the help that you received. That includes help from friends, classmates, lab TAs, course staff members, etc.

Do not, under any circumstances, copy another person's code. Incorporating someone else's code into your code in any form is a violation of academic regulations. This includes adapting solutions or partial solutions to assignments from any offering of this course or any other course. There is one exception to the code-sharing rule: You may adapt code from the COS 217 course materials provided that you explain what code you use, and cite its source in your readme file.

Copying and transforming someone else's code (by rearranging independent code, renaming variables, rewording comments, etc.) is plagiarism. Some inexperienced programmers have the misconception that detecting such plagiarism is difficult. Actually, detecting such plagiarism is quite easy. Not only does such plagiarism quickly identify itself during the grading process, but also we can (and do) use software packages, such as Alex Aiken's renowned MOSS software, for automated help.

Concerning providing help to others...

For each assignment you must specifically state, in your readme file, the names of any individuals to whom you provided help, and the nature of the help that you provided.

Abetting plagiarism or unauthorized collaboration by "sharing" your code is prohibited. Sharing code in digital form is an especially egregious violation. Do not e-mail your code or make your code available to anyone. Do not share your code with anyone even after the due date/time of the assignment.

You are responsible for keeping your solutions to the COS 217 programming assignments away from prying eyes. If someone else copies your code, we have no way to determine who is the owner and who is the copier; the Committee on Discipline will decide. If you are working on a public cluster computer, make sure that you do not leave the computer unattended, and that you delete your local files and logout before leaving.

You should store all of your assignment files in a private directory. You can create a private directory using commands similar to these:

% mkdir cos217
% chmod 700 cos217


These are the course's policies concerning e-mail communication:


Your final grade will be weighted as follows:

Component Approximate Weight
First 6 Assignments 37.5%
Final Assignment 12.5%
2 Exams 45%
Class Participation 5%