About the Course

CSC 151 - Functional Problem Solving in Scheme - Professor Jerod Weinman

Q:
In the Grading section, what does Best of average homework, quizzes and exams means?
A:
It means I will take the largest among your homework average, your quiz average, and your exam average, and factor it as the specified percentage your grade. The motivation being that individuals perform better in certain capacities than others, and I want to reward your best outlet.
Q:
Is it better asking stupid questions than not asking at all? What if the question stucks the class progress?
A:
Yes, please ask questions; that is the best way to succeed. If I perceive a question as being off topic (even if it is interesting) or one that is best answered by proceeding to the scaffolded discovery process outlined in the lab, I will gently try to indicate so. Let me reiterate that I value contributions in the form of questions. Even if we need to defer a question, you should not feel bad for having asked. Many students are likely to have the same questions, so you may be doing them a favor.
Q:
What kinds of practical skills will I learn by taking this course?
A:
The list my students typically generate at the end of the course include: teamwork, patience, problem-solving, and logical thinking in addition to the course-specific skills like Scheme and general programming concepts.
Q:
The only question I can think of will probably be answered in the next few class sessions, but I m curious about the possibility of having the software we use for class on my computer (both for the sake of class, and continuing to tinker with the programs after the semester).
A:
Yes, stay tuned. We hope to have the software available via "virtual machine" soon. (Feel free to prod me too, as I can be forgetful and distracted about such matters.)
Q:
I guess we'll be covering this during the lessons, but I was wondering what kind of things we would be doing for the labs? It isn't explained in very much detail on the website.
A:
You will practice functional problem solving in Scheme. Namely, you'll read some programs, predict wha they will do (based on your learning from the reading), and then test those predictions. You will also be given small problems to solve using the ideas introduced in the reading.
Q:
I do have my own ideas about the questions you asked in the class. However, when I think about how to express them appropriately, other students have already expressed that and the class will skip into next part. In order to participate in the class and have opportunities to express my viewpoints, what should I do?
A:
This is a GREAT question - and thank you for being bold to remind me that it's important in my role as an instructor to be sensitive to these things. So let me tell you the kinds of things I do to try to help you.
First, I don't call on individuals right away. I try to let every one think for a while. Second, I don't always call on volunteers. Thus, even if you haven't fully formulated an answer, I may ask you for a response. You may then need/want to take some time to complete your thinking before verbalizing. I don't expect students necessarily to open their mouths immediately! I appreciate care taken to generate answers. That said, I may prompt you with a foll0w-up question to elicit some partial response or else direct your reasoning.
You might also note that we will be spending the majority of your class working in labs, but we will also reserve some time for asking questions at the beginning of class (after briefly chatting about them with your lab partners). These will be great opportunities to participate and express your view with preparation.
Q:
I am not sure about the email content for earning extra credit. Whether the summarize is just about computer science, or about every events during the week?
A:
I will tell you which events count for extra credit - they are typically CS-related or other important intellectual activities.
Q:
Which programming languages will we be using?
A:
Scheme
Q:
What time of the semester do we start getting into Scheme? I'm really excited for that.
A:
Tuesday (tomorrow).
Q:
Would you recommend students have a laptop? (i.e. Would we need to use our personal computers for any assignments/for finishing assignments or are they all done solely on the lab computers?)
A:
Most students work mostly on the lab computers; a laptop is not required. Some students find it helpful to keep an extra screen open for the references/reading, but our new widescreen displays (and multiple virtual desktops) make this totally optional.
Q:
When submitting assignments via email, do you notify us of receipt? Or can we email you to make sure you received it/it was sent properly?
A:
When the assignment is graded, you will receive a reponse e-mail. If I see no lab/homework was submitted, I will e-mail to inquire. I prefer you not send a follow-up e-mail.
Q:
Will we ever need to use Blackboard for this course, or will you generally provide us with a link like you did for this specific assignment?
A:
We won't use P-Web, but I also will not generally send links. You will need to find the assignments on the web site. I typically announce them in class, but I have been known to forget to do so on occasion.
Q:
How do I make formal citations for non-syntax consultations? Is there an MLA type format just for computer science?
A:
Good question - computing has no standardized form. Including the author, title of the work, date published (and if a website other than our courseweb, the date referenced), URL (if website) are good starts.
Q:
Will assignments and readings also be posted on PWeb or only on the CSC website.
A:
The latter.
Q:
I understand how does computer science relate to the rest of the world. Still, I am taking philosophy this semester and I am kind of curious about how are they connected.
A:
Some elements behind a philosophy of mind relate closely to questions about artificial (software) agents. What is a mind? How is that different from a computer executing a program (if it is)? This "Computational Theory of Mind" has been around several decades now. There is also a "computational philosophy of science" though that strikes me as a somewhat weaker connection.
Q:
If only part of a homework is submitted, is there partial credit allowed? or would it be better to submit the work late?
A:
If it is submitted without the strictures in the syllabus, it might earn a check minus. But if you can testify to the preparatory steps outlined in the syllabus, please do so.