Computer Science 402
Final exam information
Staff, lectures, office hours
Grading and workload
What you will be graded on
Turning in assignments
Breadth requirement for CS graduate students
Tu/Th, 11:00am-12:20pm, at CS104Instructor:
Xiaoyan Li: xiaoyan@cs
Office hours: Thursday 1:00pm-2:00pm, Room 104 at 221 Nassau St.
Huiwen Chang: huiwenc@cs
Office hours: Monday 6:00pm-7:00pm, Thursday 2:00pm-3:00pm at CS414.
Maciej Halber: mhalber@cs
Office hours: Monday 4:30pm-5:30pm, Wednesday 5:00pm-6:00pm at CS414.
Zeyu Jin: zjin@cs
Office hours: Monday 3:00pm-4:00pm, Tuesday 1:30pm-2:30pm at CS415.
Jiaxi Shi: jiaxis@cs
Office hours: Monday 1:30pm-2:30pm, Friday 2:30pm-3:30pm at CS001B.
Colleen Kenny-McGinley: 210 CS Building, x8-1746, ckenny@cs
COS 226, or permission of professor.
Although there are no formal math prerequisites, students should have taken enough math to feel comfortable with the mathematical treatment that will be given of much of the material. Calculus and linear algebra certainly should be sufficient, as should be COS 340, or a course on probability and statistics. Come see me if you are unsure.
Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach
by Stuart J. Russell and Peter Norvig
Prentice Hall, 2010
Be sure to get the third edition of this book.
As I am sure you are aware, you may be able to get a better price for the book by shopping around on the web. If you buy the "international edition," be forewarned that the numbering of some of the exercises is different from what appears in the standard edition. If you use this edition, it is your own responsibility to be sure that you are doing the exercises that were actually assigned.
Copies of this textbook are (or soon will be) on reserve at the Engineering Library.
Programming in this course will be done in Java. If you do not already know Java, you will need to learn it in the first couple of weeks of the course.
There are a number of good books on Java, including Java in a Nutshell (available online here or from the university library) and The Java Programming Language (fourth edition) by Ken Arnold, James Gosling and David Holmes (available online here or from the university library). Additional Java online documentation and tutorials are available here.
One of the advantages of Java is that it comes with the standard Java Platform that includes packages for i/o, string manipulation, various data structures, etc. You are free (and encouraged) to make use of any of these. However, it is your responsibility to choose packages that are appropriate for how you are using them.
To get started using Java, see the COS126 "Hello, World" assignment which describes the mechanics of using Java locally. For this course, you must use Java Standard Edition 5.0 (a.k.a. version 1.5.0) or higher.
Regular homework assignments will alternate between programming and written exercises, with one or the other due nearly every week. You will be given roughly two weeks for most of the assignments. There will be a final exam but no midterms. In principle, anything covered in lecture or in the assigned readings is "fair game" for the final. However, realistically, you can expect that the emphasis will be placed on those same topics that were emphasized in lecture.
Final grades will be based 60% on homeworks, and 35% on the final exam, and 5% on class participation. A few exercises will be given randomly in class.
Some of the assignments allow you to earn honors optional points (or hops, for short) by completing additional challenges. These are entirely optional, and are in no way required for completing the course. However, students who are aiming for an A in the course may wish to attempt at least some of these challenges (although I guarantee that it will be possible to get an A without any honors optional points). Note that hops will not necessarily be treated on the same scale as the "regular" points used in grading homeworks.
You can track how well you are doing using blackboard (log on using your OIT login and password), bearing in mind that these posted grades do not include honors optional points. As a rough guide, if the total number of points you get on your homeworks falls close to or below 65% of the total points possible, then you may be heading for a final grade of D or F, and you should certainly seek assistance.
For most of the written exercises, you will be graded primarily on getting the right answer, but also on writing up your answer clearly, concisely and precisely. Likewise, programming assignments are graded largely on whether or not your program works correctly and efficiently, but also on whether your code is written cleanly following good programming practices and including sufficient documentation. Creativity and ingenuity are important factors in many of the programming assignments. In addition, some of the written exercises and programming assignments may ask you to explore and experiment (for instance, with the program you have written), and to report on what you have found. For these, you will be graded on producing a write-up that is thoughtful, perceptive, insightful, critical, clear and concise.
You should always be sure that your code compiles and runs without throwing exceptions (unless given bad data). A major part of your grade is based on automatic testing of your code, and if it doesn't even compile and run, then we cannot give you any credit for this part. For most assignments, you can check that your code compiles by pushing the "Check All Submitted Files" button on DropBox after uploading all of your code (see below). For the sake of automatic testing, it is also important that you please not modify the code that we are providing with each assignment, except for template files or unless specifically told it is okay to do so in the instructions. You also should not change the "signature" of any of the methods or constructors that you are required to write, i.e., the parameters of the method (or constructor), their types, and the type of the value returned by the method.
The programming part of each assignment (that is, the actual Java code) should be turned in electronically using DropBox by following the link given on each assignment. To log on, you will need to use your OIT login and password. Also, you must be registered for the course. You can upload files in the usual way. Once uploaded, for most assignments, you can press the "Check All Submitted Files" button to be sure that your code compiles. Files can be resubmitted, if necessary (but possibly with a late penalty if resubmitted after the deadline). Many of the programming assignments also have written components called the program report. These should also be submitted electronically using DropBox following these same instructions. This report must be contained in a single pdf file called report.pdf. No other file formats will be accepted.
Written exercises must be submitted in hard copy, and can be turned in at the end of class, or directly to a TA in charge of the assignment if you are using late days.(see late policy below).
Programming assignments are due at 11:59pm on the due date, and written exercises are due at the end of the class on the due dates.
Each student will be allotted eight free days which can be used to turn in homework assignments late without penalty. For instance, you might choose to turn in homework W1 two days late, homework P3 three days late, and homework P5 three days late. Once your free days are used up, late homeworks will not be accepted. Also, homeworks will not be accepted for credit more than three days past the deadline, whether or not free days are being used.
Exceptions to these rules will of course be made for serious illness or other emergency circumstances of a similar nature; in these cases, please contact me as soon as you are aware of the problem. Also, note that the last programming assignment, which is due on "dean's date," cannot be turned in late without a dean's permission, as per university rules.
It is your own responsibility to keep track of how many late days you have used. We will post our own record of late days used on blackboard, but the numbers posted will not always be fully up-to-date.
The collaboration policy for this course is based on the overarching objective of maximizing your educational experience, that is, what you gain in knowledge, understanding and the ability to solve problems. Obviously, you do not learn anything by copying someone else's solution. On the other hand, forbidding any and all discussion of course material may deprive you of the opportunity to learn from fellow students. The middle ground between these two extremes also needs to be defined with this basic principle in mind. Before working with another student, you should ask yourself if you would gain more or less by working together or individually, and then act accordingly. Here are some specific guidelines based on this principle:
You are certainly free (and encouraged) to talk to others about the material in this course, or for general help with Java, blackboard, etc.
Before working with someone else, you should first spend a substantial amount of time trying to arrive at a solution by yourself. Easier problems, including many or most of the written exercises, should be solved individually from start to finish.
Discussing harder problems or programming assignments with fellow students is allowed to the extent that it leads all participants to a better understanding of the problem and the material. Following such discussions, you should only take away your understanding of the problem; you should not take notes, particularly on anything that might have been written down. This is meant to ensure that you understand the discussion well enough to reproduce its conclusions on your own. You should also note on your solution who you worked with.
Needless to say, simply telling the solution to someone else is prohibited, as is showing someone a written solution or a portion of your code. Comparing code or solutions also is not generally permitted. However, comparing and discussing the results of experiments is okay if done in the spirit of the guidelines above.
All writing and programming must be done strictly on your own. Copying of any sort is not allowed. You may not use or consult code or solutions taken from any student, from the web, from prior year solutions, from any other course (including Java classes that were made available to you when taking COS126 or COS226), or from any other source. You may use anything which is part of the standard Java Platform.
Consulting any kind of website, blog, forum, mailing list or other service for discussing, purchasing, downloading or otherwise obtaining or sharing homework solutions is strictly forbidden (except for piazza and the class mailing list, as discussed below).
Violations of these policies may be grounds for failing the course or university disciplinary action.
Auditors are welcome, and are encouraged to take part in class discussions. If you wish to receive official "credit" for auditing this course, you must attend the vast majority of the lectures.
If you are a CS graduate student, you can take this course for credit in partial fulfillment of the department's course requirements. These requirements were recently changed. For PhD students who began their graduate studies in 2011 or earlier and who are following the older requirements, the department also allows you the option of not taking the course for credit, but only taking the final exam at the end of the semester. This option is only intended and recommended for students who have taken a very similar course elsewhere. To pass the requirement by exam only, you will need to do very well on the final, with a threshold set at least as high as the mean and median among students who are taking the class for a grade. You may find it easier to pass this requirement by instead taking the course for credit since its fulfillment will then be based on overall performance throughout the course, not just on the final.
Under the new version of these requirements, this exam option is no longer available. Clearly, if you have taken a similar course elsewhere, you should not take the class a second time but should instead take some other course to fulfill this requirement.
The course staff and I are here to help, so don't hesitate to contact us or come see us if you are having trouble. Because they can be challenging, it is very important that you start the homeworks early, not only so that you have enough time to finish them, but also so that you can get help if you have questions or difficulties. You should not assume that someone will be available to help you at the very last minute (especially on weekends or at night).
Each homework will be assigned to three or four of the course staff members, as listed on the assignments page. These staff members are in charge of all aspects of that homework (including grading it), so questions that are specific to a particular homework (whether before or after it has been turned in or graded) should be directed to them. General questions regarding material covered in class or the readings can be directed to any instructor or TA. If you cannot make it to office hours, you can set up an appointment via email.
Like the rest of the staff, I am also available to answer questions on anything (although some matters, such as grading of particular homeworks, should be directed first to the staff members in charge).
An email list is maintained by the university for all students who are registered for the course. This list will be used by the course staff for important general announcements, such as last minute corrections to the homeworks, changes in due date, etc. To avoid missing these announcements, it is imperative that you be registered for the course.
In addtion, we will use "Piazza", an online forum for general announcements, and for discussing course material, general-interest questions about the homeworks, etc. The course staff will monitor and respond to questions posted on Piazza. Of course, if your question is specific to your own work, you will probably want to make a private post on piazza, and you should always avoid giving away the solution to a problem or programming assignment in a general posting.
Thanks to Professor Robert Schapire from whom the course plan, website design, and homework assignments etc. were borrowed.