Syllabus

Quick links:   Recitations   Resources   Grading

Lecture 1 &
Lecture 2
 but not
Lecture 3

This is the website for 15-112 for Lecture sections 1 and 2.

This semester, we will again be running our pilot of the Lecture 3 version of 15-112. Lecture 3 is a potential option for those who have been making sufficient progress on the optional winter break 112 work. If you aren't sure what we mean by Lecture 3, then you are already on the correct page :)

The website for Lecture 3 is here:
https://cs.cmu.edu/~112-3

Waitlist

If you are currently on the waitlist, we hope to eventually get you into the class, which almost always happens in the first 1-3 weeks of the semester. Until that point, you should participate fully as if you were fully enrolled. This includes but is not limited to attending required events, filling out polls and forms, completing assignments, and taking quizzes. See Piazza post for more details regarding waitlists. If you were just added to a waitlist and you aren't added to Piazza within 24 hours, please contact the course instructors via e-mail.

Previous
Versions

Previous versions of 15-112 (and older 15-110/15-100):
F22, S22, F21, S21, F20, S20, F19, S19, F18, S18, F17, S17, F16, S16, F15, S15, F14, S14, F13, S13, F12, S12, F11, S11, F10, S10, F09, S09, F08, S08, F07

Previous Summers:
N22, N21, M20, N19, M19, N18, M18, M12, APEA-09, APEA-08

Description

A technical introduction to the fundamentals of programming with an emphasis on producing clear, robust, and reasonably efficient code using top-down design, informal analysis, and effective testing and debugging. Starting from first principles, we will cover a large subset of the Python programming language, including its standard libraries and programming paradigms.

This course assumes no prior programming experience. Even so, it is a fast-paced and rigorous preparation for 15-122. Students seeking a more gentle introduction to computer science should consider first taking 15-110.

NOTE: Undergraduate students must achieve a C or better in order to use this course to satisfy the pre-requisite for any subsequent Computer Science course.

Faculty Instructor: Mike Taylor (mdtaylor@andrew.cmu.edu)

Learning
Objectives

At the end of the course, students should be able to:

1) Write clear, robust, and efficient code in Python using:
  • sequential, conditional, and loop statements
  • strings, lists, tuples, sets, and dictionaries
  • objects and classes
  • recursive approaches
  • graphics and interaction
2) Develop programs to effectively solve medium-sized tasks by:
  • employing modular, top-down design in program construction
  • demonstrating an effective programming style based on established standards, practices, and guidelines
  • proactively creating and writing test cases to test and debug code
  • applying computational problem-solving skills to new problems, especially in the student's home academic discipline
  • explaining and analyzing the efficiency of algorithms, particularly by predicting the Big-O running time of small pieces of code
3) Design and write a substantial (500-1500 line) program in Python with minimal guidance

Topic List
and Schedule

See the topic list and schedule here (includes schedule, notes, pre-reading, homeworks, quizzes, and exams).

Schedule
of Classes

Important notes:
  • Use Autolab's Roster: Check Autolab to confirm your assigned lecture and recitation sections.
  • Lecture Attendance: Lecture attendance (in your assigned section) is required. Multiple unexcused absences will affect your participation grade (see below). If you must miss a lecture due to circumstances outside of your control (e.g., if you have an illness) fill out a request for an excused absence in the excused absence/extension form, located on the 112 Forms page prior to your assigned lecture.
  • Wednesday Recitation Attendance: You must attend your assigned Wednesday recitation. Multiple unexcused absences will affect your participation grade (see below). If you must miss a recitation, you should email your recitation TAs beforehand to inform them of the situation and fill out a request for an excused absence in the excused absence/extension form, located on the 112 Forms page
  • Friday Recitation Attendance: Friday sections will take place in the GHC 5th floor computer cluster rooms. See the Fix-it Fridays and Pre-reading portions of this syllabus for details on attending these sections.
  • Unless otherwise announced via Piazza, all events are in-person only.
  • Unless otherwise stated, all times in all course-related documents and correspondence will be in Pittsburgh time (ET). Note that Autolab in particular may show times in your local time, but our course website uses Pittsburgh-time.
Days Lecturer / TAs Time Wed Room
Lecture 1 T/R Mike Taylor (mdtaylor) 9:30am - 10:50am DH 2210
    Section A W/F Anita (anitama) and Jamari (jtoussai) 9:00am - 9:50am GHC 4301
    Section B W/F Elisa (ezm) and Suanna (suannaz) 10:00am - 10:50am DH 1112
    Section C W/F Tim (tcarullo) and Sarah (sjwang2) 11:00am - 11:50am DH 1112
    Section D W/F Hugo (hsmartin), José (jcestero), Winston (wzha) 12:00pm - 12:50pm WEH 4625
    Section E W/F Vania (vhalim) and Daphne (daphneh) 1:00pm - 1:50pm BH 237B
    Section F W/F Riley (rkrzywda) and Peter (pkhoudar) 2:00pm - 2:50pm WEH 4625
    Section G W/F Adhvik (akanagal) and Avi (aarya2) 3:00pm - 3:50pm PH 226A
    Section H W/F Theo (tkroenin) and Tom (haozhant) 4:00pm - 4:50pm DH 1112
    Section I W/F Kyle (kylechen) and Amalia (akamon) 5:00pm - 5:50pm POS 146
Lecture 2 T/R Mike Taylor (mdtaylor) 2:00pm - 3:20pm DH 2210
    Section J W/F Alice (alicehon), Shawn (sihyunl), Joyce (btruong) 9:00am - 9:50am GHC 5222
    Section K W/F Prina (phdoshi) and Kayla (klei) 10:00am - 10:50am BH 235B
    Section L W/F Sara (saralian), Ollie (darrison), Kaitlynn (kecooper) 11:00am - 11:50am WEH 5302
    Section M W/F Arohee (abhoja) and Lakshmi (ladiga) 12:00pm - 12:50pm PH A18A
    Section N W/F Samuel (samuelch) and Emily (ealiu) 1:00pm - 1:50pm WEH 4625
    Section O W/F Victoria (vxc), Liam (ljhower), Ray (rware) 2:00pm - 2:50pm WEH 4709
    Section P W/F Shruti (shrutisr), Josh (dingchar), Riya (riyabhat) 3:00pm - 3:50pm WEH 4709
    Section Q W/F Maddie (mrburrou) and Bonnie (bmguo) 4:00pm - 4:50pm BH 235A
    Section R W/F Anna (annalee), Jieun (jieunlim), Emily (esands) 5:00pm - 5:50pm GHC 4301

Office Hours
and Course
Resources

15-112 can be an intense course, but it becomes much more manageable if you use the course resources well. These resources include:

Course Notes:
  • The course notes (On the CMU CS Academy webpage, linked from the schedule) are full of useful information and examples that can help you approach the assignments! When you don't understand a concept, try reading (or re-reading) the notes and watching the associated videos first.
  • We may occasionally link additional notes from the course website. These will generally be labeled "Required" or "Optional" or "Vintage." Required notes contain additional topics you are responsible for knowing. Optional notes are optional but potentially interesting. Vintage notes are from a prior semester, and may be useful for those seeking additional explanations, but are outdated, and you should follow the CS Academy notes if any discrepancies exist.

Large-Group Sessions:
    Session Time Location
    Quiz prep sessionSun, 4pm-5pmTEP 1403
    Quiz solution sessionWed, 8pm-9pmNSH 3305
    Spicy/Exploratory sessionTBD weeklyWill be announced on Piazza
  • Unless indicated as remote, all of these sessions are in-person, optional, and will not be recorded. If you wish to attend but are unable to, we recommend that you ask any questions you have on Piazza or in OH.
  • If at any point we offer a homework solution session, you may not turn in an assignment after attending/watching any part of its solution session, even with an extension or grace day. Doing so will be considered an academic integrity violation.

Instructor Open Office Hours:
    Times and locations are subject to change. See Piazza for any changes.
    Day Time Location Instructor
    Tue 11:30am-1:00pm GHC 4126 Mike
    Wed 1:00pm-3:00pm GHC 4126 Mike
    Wed 4:00pm-5:00pm GHC 4126 Lead TAs
    Thu 11:30am-1:00pm GHC 4126 Mike
  • During these open OH, you can ask questions about anything, or just listen in and maybe pick up some neat stories. These are open OH, so they are not private. For specific homework and debugging help, please attend your TA's study sessions and/or use Piazza and OH instead so that we can include everyone in the discussion. We expect these will be fun and collaborative and will help us all get to know each other!

TA Office Hours:
    Times and locations are subject to change. See Piazza for any changes.
    Day Time Location
    Mon 7pm-10pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Tue 5pm-7pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Wed 5pm-9pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Thu 5pm-9pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Fri 5pm-9pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Sat 2pm-8pm GHC 5th floor commons
    Sun 2pm-4pm GHC 5th floor commons
  • TA office hours let you ask questions to a TA directly, and they can help you understand concepts and debug programs that you're struggling with alone. During TA OH, use the OH Queue to sign up for help! OH Queue is used only for TA office hours. When you join the queue, please prepare to ask your question as efficiently as possible. During busy TA OH, to provide the fairest help to the most students, TAs can only spend five minutes with each student. Additionally, you must wait 15 minutes before re-adding yourself to the queue. This is meant to both reduce wait times and to encourage you to ask specific, valuable questions. If you need more general guidance than can be provided in 5 minutes, asking questions on Piazza may be a better option.

Piazza:
  • You are responsible for carefully reading all of the content in all instructor posts on Piazza.
  • You may also use Piazza to ask questions, but you must carefully read our Piazza posts on and guidelines first (for example, any questions related to the homework must be private and addressed to "Instructors").
  • (Note: If you need to get in touch with only Mike, or perhaps a specific TA, email (using your andrewID) is best. Piazza is great for general questions addressed to "Instructors" however, since these are visible to all TAs and you'll get a response relatively quickly.)

Exploratory/Spicy Sessions:
  • Optional exploratory/spicy sessions will cover topics that are not part of the core 112 material, but which are very interesting nevertheless. They will explore interesting optional topics like sound synthesis, quantum computing, medical imaging, and artificial intelligence. Additionally, some of these topics will be helpful for your term projects!

Mike's Private Meetings:
  • To schedule a 1-on-1 meeting with me, you can look to see if there are any appointment slots on my calendar:
  • If no appointments are available, please email me (using your andrewID) and be sure to include the topic you'd like to discuss, along with your full availability over the next few days, along with whether you are able to meet in person at those times or not.
    • Mike: mdtaylor@andrew.cmu.edu
  • Meetings are in-person by default. If a remote meeting is necessary, I will send you a link right before our designated time. Note: When you sign up for a time, Google automatically crams a google meet link into the invite. Ignore it! If we meet remotely, it will be over zoom.
  • So that we can spread our limited time as fairly as possible, please keep this in mind:
    • Consider asking on Piazza or in OH, which may get you a faster response without consuming limited meeting time.
    • These private meetings are specifically and only for issues that are not appropriate for my open OH format, or which cannot be resolved easily through Piazza, TA office hours, or email.
    • That being said, don't be shy! I like getting to know as many of you as I can, and if I can make space to meet with you, I will.

Student Academic Success Center:
  • Due to the size of the course, we are not able to generally meet requests for one-on-one tutoring. However, the Student Academic Success Center (SASC) usually offers additional resources and tutoring for 15-112.

Required
Materials

There is no required textbook for this course! We will primarily use the course notes on CMU CS Academy (and occasionally this webpage) instead.

You should have a computer (ideally a laptop), however, it does not need to be very new or powerful. We recommend an Apple or Windows laptop, though common distributions of Ubuntu will also work. Chromebooks may work early in the semester while working entirely on the CS Academy website, but may not work for creating standalone graphical applications, which will be necessary for end-of-semester term projects. Please contact us if you cannot reasonably get access to a computer.

You will need to bring to lecture and recitation an internet-accessable device that is able to, at the very least, access Piazza and Google Forms and respond to poll questions. A laptop will certainly work; a smartphone or table should be sufficient also. Please contact us if you cannot reasonably access a device that you can bring to each lecture.

Every required software package we use is available for free on the web. This includes:
  • CMU CS Academy, a browser-based platform which we will use extensively. We will email you with your account info.
  • Python version 3.10, which can be freely downloaded from python.org. Note that Python 3.11 may not work properly with certain modules, including the CS Academy graphics package.
  • We will also use apps and sites that use Brython, which is a version of Python that runs in web browsers.
  • We may also use one or more free IDEs (code editors) and other free software packages.

Course
Requirements

Participation is required and consists of the following activities:
  • Attending and actively participating in all the lectures, recitations, and required events.
  • Carefully reading the course notes and other assigned readings and completing pre-reading checkpoints.
  • Thoughtfully completing the homework assignments, and the term project with earnest effort.
  • Taking all the required quizzes and exams.
Attendance is required (even if attendance is not always explicitly recorded).
  • You will be responsible for all materials presented in lectures and recitations (video/audio recordings will generally not be available).
  • Note that missed quizzes and exams may not be made up in general (though certain exceptions are permitted -- see the relevant sections below).
Responsiveness is required. You need to monitor your andrew email and respond to course-related emails promptly, preferably the same day and in any case within two days.

Also, you must read all instructor Piazza posts carefully. You are responsible for knowing this information, including any changes or additions to policies, deadlines, etc.

Grading

Course Component Weight Notes
Attendance, Participation, and Prereading 5% See participation grading details below.
Homeworks (about 9) 20% None are dropped, but lowest 2 hw's are half-weighted.
Term Project (1) 20%
Quizzes (about 8, incl. TP deliverables) 10% Lowest quiz grade is dropped, second-lowest is half-weighted.
Exams (3) 45% Lowest exam grade is dropped, second-lowest is half-weighted (see below).

Midsemester and Semester grades will be assigned using a standard scale, as will each homework, quiz, midterm, term project, and final, as such:
   A: [90 - 100]
   B: [80 - 90)
   C: [70 - 80)
   D: [60 - 70)
   R:  [0 - 60)

Note that graduate students will be assigned +'s and -'s according to the following scale (generalized across letter grades):
   B-: [80-83)
   B:  [83-87)
   B+: [87-90)

By default, grades do not round up to the next letter (so a 90 is an A, and an 89.9 is a B). The course instructor may choose to change the scales at their discretion. You are guaranteed that your letter grade will never be lowered as a result of changing scales.

Exam Policy: There are three (3) exams -- 2 midterms and 1 final. Your lowest exam score is dropped -- except if you take the final, it cannot be dropped, but it can be half-weighted -- and your second-lowest exam score is half-weighted. This also means that you can entirely skip one exam (unexcused) if you wish. For most of you, this would likely be the final exam, which due to this policy is optional (though, again, if you opt to take the final, then it cannot be dropped).

Alternate Minimum Grading (AMG) Policy
This AMG policy is available to everybody but is designed specifically for those students who struggle in the first part of the course and then through sustained hard work and dedication manage to elevate their performance in the latter part of the course to a level that merits passing with a C, even if their Standard Grade might be lower than that.

In addition to Standard Grading as described above, we will separately compute your grade using an Alternate Minimum Grading (AMG). Students do not sign up for AMG. Every student will be considered both for Standard Grading and AMG, and their semester grade will be the higher of the two (where the highest grade via AMG is a C).

Your AMG grade is the smaller of your final exam grade and your tp3 (term project) grade, capped at 75. Or, in Python, like so:
                  amgGrade = min(final, tp3, 75)
                  grade = max(originalGrade, amgGrade)
                
AMG eligibility depends on demonstrating sustained effort. To qualify for AMG you must meet the course requirements in the previous section. Also:
  • You cannot miss a significant number lectures/recitations
  • You cannot miss multiple assignments or quizzes
  • You cannot violate the Academic Integrity Policy or any collaboration guidelines

Attendance,
Participation,
and Prereading
Grade

The Attendance, Participation, and Prereading grade (worth 5% of your semester average) will be updated at mid-semester and at the end of the semester before the final exam, and depends on several factors relating to your accountability, engagement, and the rules outlined in the Course Requirements section above. These grades are assigned at the faculty's discretion. However, if you meet the course requirements and stay accountable and engaged, you will be almost certain to get full points (which we expect will be true for about 90% of you, hopefully more). A very small number of unexcused absences or missed in-class polls will not change your grade, but we will not say how small that number is, so if you have an absence that may be excusable, you should promptly follow the excused absence policy below. We will not approve late requests.

If you have systemic/repeated technical issues that prevent you from completing in-class forms/polls (which we will use to measure attendance and participation), it is your responsibility to resolve these promptly, but we are eager to help (and remember that missing a small number will not change anything).

It is against the course academic integrity policy to answer in-class polls when you are not present in lecture, or to share links to in-class polls/forms with anyone not physically present when they are released.

Important Note: In the case of frequent unexcused absences, non-responsiveness, or other failures to satisfy the course requirements, additional deductions to your semester average may apply (beyond deductions to the participation grade), up to and including course failure, at the sole discretion of the course faculty. This is rare, however, and will only happen if you ignore at least one prior warning to engage with the course properly.

Assigned
Work

Pre-reading and pre-reading checkpoints:
Each week, you will be assigned a specific subset of the course notes in CMU CS Academy (including code snippets and walk-through videos) as required reading in preparation for the following week's topics. Most of these notes contain checkpoints that must be completed prior to the checkpoint deadline.
  • The pre-reading checkpoint assessments will typically be due on Monday evenings at 8 pm. You should regularly read the course schedule and any course announcements, as there will be a few exceptions.
  • Friday pre-reading (and Fix-it) recitation section:
    • Your Friday "recitation" section time is a designated time that you may use to work on the pre-reading and the checkpoint.
    • During this section time, you may work alongside your section classmates and help each other with the pre-reading material. However, you may not simply share answers to the checkpoints, ever.
    • If you have already completed the current pre-reading checkpoint (and you have no other Fix-its to review), you don't have to attend the Friday section, and this will not negatively impact your participation grade. That being said, we encourage you to attend regardless to help your fellow classmates!

Homework:
Homework assignments are generally due Saturdays at 8pm. Homeworks are entirely solo unless the assignment very explicitly allows you to collaborate. See the "Academic Integrity" section below for more details. That said, you always have access to extensive help provided by the TAs and course faculty.

  • CS Academy
    Homework assignments will be primarily completed on the CMU CS Academy website (though you should of course regularly check the course schedule for exceptions). Each CS Academy assignment has a required number of "stars" in several sections, listed like this:
        "Section Exercises:   ⭐ 0 / 11."
    Unless otherwise specified, each star is worth the same percentage of your homework score, up to 100%. If you complete fewer than the required number of stars in a section, you will receive a score equal to the percentage of required stars you completed. For example, if there are 16 required stars and you complete 8, you will receive 50%. If you complete all of the required stars you will receive 100% on the assignment. Each star you complete over the required number for that section is worth 0.5 percentage points of bonus on the assignment. Thus, if there are 16 required stars and you complete 19, you will receive a 101.5% on the assignment. Unless otherwise specified, bonus points cannot bring your score above a 105% per assignment. Stars from CTs are ineligible for bonus points.
    Note: A green checkmark next to a problem (in CS Academy) means it has autograded correctly and you are done. No green checkmark means it's not done yet. If you believe you should have received a green checkmark, be sure to review your work, and be sure that you hit the "check" button after the "run" button to submit it. The "check" button runs your code against additional hidden test cases which you must pass in order to receive credit. It's your responsibility to properly submit and be aware of whether you have received green-checkmark credit for your work! There is generally no partial credit for autograded problems.

  • Style grading and Hw Code Reviews:
    Some subset of the assigned hw's may be graded on style or may include a "code review", where you will discuss the quality of your code with a TA or group of peers. We will share more information on these before they are assigned.

  • Hw Grace Days
    A grace day is a penalty-free hw extension day, intended to give you some flexibility in hw deadlines. You may only use one grace day on any given hw, and up to 2 total grace days over the entire semester. Note that excused absences and other excused extensions do not count towards your grace day total. You do not sign up for grace days. Instead, you simply keep working on a hw after the original deadline, for up to 24 hours. Periodically, we will automatically assign your ideal use of grace days for all hw's up to that point. Note that a hw may at first use a grace day or two, only to have that change later in the semester if a later hw would earn more total points for you by using those grace days. In any case, we will always assign grace days to optimize your total points.

Term Project:
The Term Project will be the last major course activity of the semester. You will design and build a program of your choice with the guidance of a mentor TA. More information can be found in the Term Project Assignment writeup, once it is released.

Assessments

Quizzes:
Quizzes will be given most weeks, generally in lecture on Tuesdays. Quizzes will be on paper and will involve writing code and answering written questions about code samples, without the use of other resources. Quizzes generally focus on material from the previous week and the previous homework, though any prior material may appear as well.
  • Fix-it Fridays: "Fix-Its" allow you to earn back some partial points that you lost on quizzes by submitting fixed versions of portions of them soon after they are graded. More information on how to complete fix-its will be released via Piazza.

Exams:
  • There will be 2 midterm exams, counted for two of three items in the exam grade category, given in class as noted in the course schedule. You must take the exam in-person at your assigned lecture time. It is your responsiblity to be aware of these dates, and you should not schedule flights or other travel during the exam times.
  • There will be a final exam at the end of the semester, weighted as indicated above. It will count as one of three items in the exam grade category. It will cover all material present in 112 during this semester. We will notify you as soon as the University exam schedule is released. Until that time, do not schedule flights or other travel during the exam dates listed on the University calendar. That being said, your lowest exam grade will be dropped, which can be either midterm1, midterm2, or the final exam. This means you may opt out of the final exam if you wish.

Academic
Integrity

Philosophy:
We begin by choosing to trust each of you individually. Do not be one of the few who lose that trust. If you cheat, expect to be caught, and expect significant consequences. Use common sense and understand these rules.

These rules are meant to convey the spirit of our academic integrity expectations. For example, when we say "do not copy" we always mean visually, verbally, electronically, or in any other way, even if you copy and modify it. We additionally expect you to uphold CMU's more general academic integrity standards. Attempting to exploit technicalities simply reduces our assurance that you fully learned from the mistake. If you are unsure of something, you only need to ask us beforehand. If you do this and strive to understand the intent of this policy and exercise common sense, you have nothing to worry about.

Generally, examples of academic integrity violations include but are not limited to:
  • Claiming or submitting as your own any work or code you did not fully author, explicitly or implicitly, no matter how small.
  • Using any software or service to generate code or algorithms for course assignments or assessments, even small parts, including homework and the term project.
  • Missing or inaccurate citations
  • Discussing any part of assignments or assessments with anyone else (besides current 112 TAs and course faculty), no matter how briefly or casually, in-person or via Discord/WeChat/Zoom, etc. unless the assignment explicitly allows it.
  • Looking at any part of anyone else's solution(s) to an assignment or assessment, or showing anyone else any part of your solution(s) no matter how briefly or casually.
  • Asking or answering any questions about assignments or assessments anywhere except through official 112 resources, or sharing/viewing any part of assignments, assessments, or solutions in-person or online in any way. In particular, this disallows stackoverflow, chegg, github, and all other such sites.
  • Attempting to 'hack', decompile, disrupt, or misuse the autograder, testing environment, or course tools.
  • Not securing access to your work, e.g., not having a password on your laptop where a roommate or friend could access your work without your knowledge.
  • Answering in-class polls or forms when not participating in class.
Homework:
Unless otherwise noted, all homework exercises are solo, meaning that you must not collaborate or discuss them with anyone in any way. Note that 'anyone' includes but is not limited to other past, present, or future students, friends, parents, siblings, tutors, etc. Remember: you always have access to extensive help provided by the TAs and course faculty. We strongly encourage you to use this support!
Note: If at any point we offer a homework solution session, you may not turn in an assignment after attending/watching any part of its solution session, even with an extension or grace day.

Term Project:
The term project writeup will allow for certain kinds of productive collaboration. Still, you will only be graded on your truly original contributions. Missing, inaccurate, or misleading citations on any assignment or deliverable may result in an academic integrity violation, regardless of intent.

Assessments (Quizzes and Exams):
Examples of cheating on assessments (Quizzes and Exams) include but are not limited to:
  • Referring to any external resources (people, electronics, websites, notes, books, etc) while completing the assessment.
  • Accessing or copying any part of an answer from another student's work, even if it is very small.
  • Attempting to access any unreleased assessment outside of your assigned testing time, or outside of a secured testing environment, even if you have already taken it.
  • Providing or receiving links/passwords/codes to quizzes, checks, exams, or other assessments to anyone else.
  • Saving or copying any assessment materials so they are available outside of the online quiz/midterm/exam environment.
  • Discussing any part of the assessment with anyone who hasn't taken it (or a very similar one) until we have released it publicly (including with non-112 students)
    • For example, taking a quiz and sending a message as simple as "I wish I hadn't spent so much time studying nested loops" (or some other topic) before the quiz is released
  • Violating proctoring policies, like continuing to work on the assessment (even briefly) after the proctors announce the stop time, or falsifying/fabricating a tech fail.
Retaking Course / Reusing Prior Material:
If you are repeating 112, your prior work in this course is treated just as anyone else's work. Consulting or copying your prior homework answers or term project solutions will only hurt your learning, and will be treated as a cheating violation.

Plagiarism Detector:
Programs are naturally structured, which makes them very easy to compare. Here is a short video demonstrating one of several automated detection methods we use on every assignment. In short: if you copy or reference code, including work from prior semesters, we will be able to tell.

Penalties:
Course penalties are decided by the course faculty, and vary based on the severity of the offense. Offenses can be severe even if the assignment/assessment is worth very few points (for example, cheating during a quiz). The course penalty for violations will always be more severe than if you were to leave the associated item blank. Possible penalties include:
  • Receiving a 0 or -100 on the assignment/assessment, which cannot be half-weighted
  • Receiving a semester-average deduction, often a full-letter-grade (most common)
  • Automatically failing the course

Penalties are likely accompanied by a report to the Dean of Student Affairs and/or the Office of Community Standards and Integrity. This can lead to additional university-level penalties, such as being suspended or expelled, especially for repeated violations. University policy states that you may not drop the course if you have an academic integrity violation (except in rare/unusual cases where you have faculty approval).

Honesty:
To end this section on a more positive note, you should know that we put a high premium on honesty. If you get into an Academic Integrity situation, then the sooner and more completely you tell the entire truth, by far the better it is for you and for everyone else involved. The bottom line: If you regret a lapse in judgment, it is always better to let us know right away, to come clean, and be honest and truthful. You will feel better about it, as will we, and it will probably result in a better outcome for you as well.

Extensions

See the Forms page for this semester's Extension Request Form. Here are the generally accepted reasons for approved extensions and excused absences from required course events (chiefly lectures and recitations):
  • Medical Emergencies: if you are on campus and you are feeling sick, contact Student Health Services. Students who have prolonged absences due to medical treatment or University-mandated isolation may obtain extensions from the instructors at their discretion, or by request from Student Health Services, any medical professional, or an advisor, housefellow, etc. You must notify your advisor in order to receive an extension, since a medical emergency is likely to impact your academics more broadly. Your advisor can request flexibility from all of your course instructors and can provide additional support during your recovery.
  • Family/Personal Emergencies: if you are having a family or personal emergency (such as a death in the family or a mental health crisis), reach out to your academic advisor or housefellow resources immediately! They will help support you in your time of need, and can also reach out to all of your instructors (including 15-112 instructors) to request extensions for you.
  • University-Related Absences: if you are attending a university-approved or clearly university-related event off-campus (such as a multi-day athletic/academic trip organized by the university), you may request an extension for the duration of the trip. Note that we will consider most job interview trips to fall in this category. If possible, you must provide confirmation of your attendance, usually from a faculty or staff organizer of the event.
  • One-Time Multi-Day University-Related Event: if you are deeply involved in an event involving some university-related club or organization that you are in, where it will take nearly all of your time over multiple days, and this is a one-time deal for the semester, then we will consider granting an extension on that week's homework.
We certainly understand that unfortunate things happen in life. However, not all unfortunate circumstances are valid reasons for an extension. Nearly all situations that make you run late on an assignment homework can be avoided with proper planning - often just starting early. Here are some examples:
  • I have so many deadlines this week: you know your deadlines ahead of time - plan accordingly.
  • It's a minute before the deadline and the network is down: you always have multiple submissions - it's not a good idea to wait for the deadline for your first submission.
  • My computer crashed and I lost everything: Use Google Drive, Dropbox, or similar system to do real-time backup - recover your files and finish your homework from a cluster machine or borrowed computer.
Please note that extensions must be requested before the assignment/assessment deadline. Additionally: if a religious day you observe conflicts with an assignment date or event, let the course instructors know in advance; we may be able to provide extensions or move assignment dates in some cases (though because the course moves extremely fast, we urge you to start the assignment early instead).

Late Policy

In general, all homework is due at the assigned date and time. Without an approved extension as described above, any homework problems completed after the due date and time will receive 0 points when scores are uploaded from CMU CS Academy to Autolab. (Note that you will always be able to complete the problem in CMU CS Academy, but it will not receive any points in Autolab after the due date.)
We provide 2 grace days for homework assignments, primarily to allow flexibility for unforseen circumstances. (See HW section for more details.) Remember, you may not use multiple grace days on a single homework assignment. Note that grace days may only be used on homeworks, and may not be used on checkpoints, quizzes, the term project, exams, or anything else.

No late/make-up quizzes or exams will be administered, except in the cases covered under the Extensions policy. Approved missed quizzes will be excused; approved missed exams will be taken at the earliest possible date as approved by course faculty.

Regrade Requests

We occasionally make mistakes while grading (we're only human!). If you believe that you found a mistake that you would like us to correct, please submit a regrade request using instructions found on a relevant Piazza post. Note: regrade requests will result in the entire problem being regraded, not just the possibly-incorrectly-graded part. Regrade requests must be filed no later than two weeks after the grade has been released.

Formatting,
Syntax,
and Linter
Errors

Misformatted assignments or code with syntax or linter errors, in general, cannot be graded by our autograder, and will generally receive a zero. Therefore, be sure to test your homework early, and thoroughly read any autograded feedback to be sure you are getting the score you expected. If you must upload a file to Autolab or any other system, it is also your responsibility to check that you successfully submitted the file you intended. (Note: Any manually-graded problems will not have a score immediately.)

Recording

Students may not record audio or video of lectures or recitations or any other faculty-led or TA-led course events (online or in-person) without explicit permission in writing from the instructor or the TA in the instructor's absence. Exceptions will be granted in accordance with university guidelines for accessibility concerns, but even then such recordings may not be shared publicly or privately.

Camera policy: Hopefully, we stay in-person and don't need this policy, however... We request that you keep your camera on during any remote events, as this will provide the best learning experience for you and your classmates. We suggest you use a virtual background if you are uncomfortable with your environment being visible to others. You may alternatively use a face-tracking virtual avatar if you wish, like those available through loom.ai, etc. That being said, if you have accessibility or equity concerns that are not solved by either of these solutions, please let us know. For 1-on-1 meetings, assessment proctoring, or group events of 5 or fewer people, we do require your camera to be on unless you have approval from the attending TA or the course faculty.

Accommodations

We gladly accommodate students with disability-related needs (as approved by the Office of Disability Resources (ODR), as explained here). If you are eligible for accommodations, please ensure that the Office of Disability Resources has sent us your Summary of Accommodations Memorandum within the first week or two of class. We will contact you within a few days of receiving this form with any relevant instructions for using your accommodations in 15-112.

Please note: At the guidance of the University, we can only provide disability-related accommodations which have been explicitly approved by ODR and are on the most recent Summary of Accommodations Memorandum we have received. If you require accommodations that have not been approved by ODR, you should contact them as soon as possible. Also according to University guidance, we cannot retroactively apply your accommodations if we receive them from ODR later in the semester (for example, a modification on an assignment due before we received official approval of your accommodations).

Extended Time: students who receive Office of Disability Resources (ODR) approved extended-time on assessments will be proctored by ODR's testing center. The course faculty will email you with instructions for scheduling your assessments during Week 1, or upon receipt of your memorandum. ODR requires you to schedule extra-time assessments at least five days in advance. Many students find it helpful to schedule all of their quizzes and exams at the beginning of the semester. Extra-time assessments must take place on the same day as the in-class assessment unless otherwise approved by the course faculty.

Important: to use extra time, you must sign up for a proctoring time outside of lecture with ODR, and not the normal-duration quiz or exam. You do have the option of attending the normal-duration quiz or exam, but then you will have to complete it in the assigned time (without extended time). If you plan to take an extended-time quiz, you do not need to be present in lecture until the standard-time quiz is over (usually in the first 20-25 minutes)

We are here to help. If you have any questions or concerns relating to 15-112 and how we can best accommodate, please contact the course instructors and we will work together for your success.

Auditing

We have found that students who audit 15-112 do not tend to succeed, as they generally cannot dedicate the requisite time and focused discipline to the course. We must also strictly limit in-person events to ensure that we do not violate room capacities. Therefore, auditing will only be allowed in exceptional circumstances and must be approved by the course instructors first. Rather than auditing, in some cases you may take the course as Pass/Fail instead, which can be a better option in some cases (say, for graduate students who want to learn how to program but already have an over-full load of graduate courses). Note: you may not take the course Pass/Fail if you plan to use 15-112 as a prereq.

Diversity
and
Inclusion

It is our intent that students from all diverse backgrounds and perspectives be well-served by this course, that students' learning needs be addressed both in and out of class, and that the diversity that students bring to this class be viewed as a resource, strength, and benefit. It is our intent to present materials and activities that are respectful of diversity: gender, sexuality, disability, age, socioeconomic status, ethnicity, race, and culture. Whether in education or industry, inclusive representation creates richer experiences and equips us to solve new and exciting challenges. As we begin the semester, we want you to know:
  • We are always eager for new ideas and constructive feedback on how to improve accessibility and inclusion.
  • If you would like to talk to someone about your unique experiences in the course, at CMU, or elsewhere, we are eager to listen.
  • We love helping students find new opportunities using their 112 skills. If you need help making connections or showcasing your abilities, we'll do our best to help! (This is an invitation for everyone, but especially our underrepresented or disadvantaged students.)
  • If you know of an event or group that is of particular interest to 112 students, especially those which empower our underrepresented or disadvantaged populations, (including but of course not limited to BIPOC, Latina/o/x/e, LGBTQIA+, and women in technology/higher education) we are eager to promote these through Piazza.
  • If you are looking for events or groups to connect with socially or professionally, please talk to our TAs and faculty so that we can help!
  • CMU is a community of brilliant people from all over the world, and it's easy to feel intimidated or like you don't belong. To varying degrees, we all struggle with these feelings. If you find yourself questioning whether you deserve to be at CMU or in this class, we urge you to come talk to us, and we'll do everything we can to help you overcome those doubts.
Lastly, we call on each of you to join us in our commitment to a more welcoming and equitable community. Always seek awareness of your own unconscious biases, and also remember that certain things like neurodiversity, religion, gender identity, and socioeconomic status and are not always immediately apparent. Support your fellow students academically and socially. And if you are eager to personally provide an even better experience for future 112 students, consider applying to be a TA for next semester!

Well-being &
Happiness

We care very much about your well-being and happiness. Yes, CMU students (and faculty) work hard, sometimes very hard. But we must keep our balance and always attend to our well-being and happiness. That comes first, academics follow. Achieving a better grade is almost never a matter of putting in more time! So be sure to get enough sleep, eat right, exercise regularly, and attend to your well-being and happiness.

Also, please know that we do care about you and take your well-being seriously. We want to help you learn while minimizing stress. Meeting the learning goals of 15-112 necessitates significant effort and a fast pace, but do not fall into the trap of working endlessly, as this will only reduce your efficiency (and more importantly, your happiness and well-being). It is not necessary, expected, or something to be proud of. We can help you improve your efficiency and work less, not more. We also seek to minimize the workload as much as is possible, while still meeting the learning goals of the course.

Finally, if you are feeling overly stressed, anxious, or unhappy about your performance or your general experience in this course: please come talk to us. We will listen. We are here for you and we will try to help.

Addendum: Here is a great summary of many CMU Student Support Services.