Computer Science 111:
Computers and Computing

Course Information--Spring 2000

Course Description

This course is intended for students from the humanities and social sciences who want a one-course introduction to computers, and have little or no computer experience. No mathematics or science background is assumed. The course is a broad introduction to computer science, including topics from hardware design, algorithms, data structures, and theory.

The laboratory is complementary to the classroom work, uses PCs running Windows, and is based on the Internet and the World Wide Web. Students will construct their own home pages in the first couple of weeks. They will then add to them throughout the semester, while exploring a broad spectrum of practical applications, including graphics and digital sound. The final three labs are a gentle introduction to programming in Java.


When and where

Tuesdays and Thursdays, 10:30--11:50, room 105 CS Building (small auditorium)


Douglas Clark
309 C.S. Building, 258-6314
Office hours: just drop in, or make an appointment via email or phone

Teaching Assistants

Mao Chen
413 C.S. Building, 258-1797
Office hours: Tuesdays 4:30-5:30 PM, or by appointment

Rob Kalnins
314 C.S. Building, 258-5135
Office hours: Mondays 3-4 PM, or by appointment


None! No math, no programming experience.


Class participation

This course uses a discussion, not lecture, format. Each class will cover particular subjects from the assigned reading; particular issues for discussion will be posed in a handout distributed the previous week (and available on the course homepage). Students will be expected to have carefully read the assigned readings and to have prepared responses to, and analyses of, any assigned discussion questions or topics. The quality and quantity of student participation in class discussions is worth 30 percent of the course grade. Participation grades will reflect the quality of the student's analysis as well as the student's contribution to the process of discussion: making connections with other students' remarks, raising overlooked issues, asking good questions, making good summaries. Note that effective participation requires a great deal more listening than speaking.


Nine hands-on computing laboratory exercises will be assigned, starting the second week of classes. The labs are designed to be easily completable in two-and-a-half hours or less, during the scheduled lab sections, which are: M-Tu-W 1:30--4:20 and M 7:00--9:50. Assistants will be in the labs to help out. Most labs require about one hour of preparatory reading. There will be no labs in the first week of classes, the week before Spring recess, nor the last week of classes.

The laboratory room is located in the Engineering Quadrangle: Room E-203 can be found by entering the Olden Street door closest to Prospect St., turning right, and then following the sound of keyclicks. Lab section assignments will be based on student preferences, and will be posted before the start of the first lab.

Lab reports are together worth 30 percent of the course grade. To receive credit, students must complete labs in the week they are assigned, unless there are extraordinary circumstances and/or prior arrangements.

Problem sets

Weekly problem sets, together worth 10 percent of the course grade, will be assigned. Problems will be drawn mainly from the text. They are intended to be straightforward and should take at most 2 hours to complete, not counting the reading. Problem set solutions will be due on Fridays by 5 PM sharp. No credit will be given for late papers unless there are extraordinary circumstances and/or prior arrangements. There will be no problem set due in the week before Spring recess (midterm instead), nor in the last week of classes.

Policy on collaboration. Students are encouraged to collaborate on problem sets, but must turn in separate solutions; the names of collaborators should appear on the paper.


A take-home, open-book midterm examination will be given during the week before spring break. It will cover material presented and discussed in the classes and assigned reading through Tuesday, March 7. It will be worth 10 percent of the course grade.

A take-home, open-book final examination will be given during the spring-term exam period. It will cover all of the assigned readings and material presented and discussed in class. It will be worth 20 percent of the course grade.

Policy on collaboration. Are you kidding? No collaboration on take-home exams.



G. Michael Schneider and Judith L. Gersting, An Invitation to Computer Science, Second Edition, PWS Publishing Company, 1999.

Other readings

Copies of any supplemental readings will be handed out in class.


Introduction: Feb. 1, 3

Algorithm Discovery and Design: Feb. 8, 10

Efficiency of Algorithms: Feb. 15, 17, 22

Digital Building Blocks: Feb. 24, 29, March 2

Computer Architecture and Organization: March 2, 7, 9

TAKE-HOME MIDTERM given during week before Spring recess

Operating Systems: March 21, 23

Introduction to Programming: March 28, 30, April 4, 6

Artificial Intelligence: April 11

Recursion: April 13

Models of Computation: April 18, 20, 25, 27

TAKE-HOME FINAL EXAM given during exam period

Doug Clark, 1/00