15-110: Principles of Computing - Fall 2014


Fast Links: FAQs | Meeting Times | Lab Sections | Textbooks | Grading | Academic Integrity | Students with Disabilities

15-110 is a course in fundamental computing principles for students with little to no computing background. The course covers the following topics:

Prerequisites: none.

NOTE: Speak with your advisor about whether you are required to take 15-110 or 15-112 (Fundamentals in Programming) or both if you are unsure about which course you should be taking.

Notice for students on the wait list and students switching from 15-112 to 15-110:

Please be aware that the capacity of 15-110 is almost full right now but we are creating new sections at 4:30 PM to try to accommodate everyone (you may still put yourself on the wait list for the section that you want most though). Students currently on the wait list should be keeping up with the course work, treating the course as if they're already enrolled and making reasonable arrangements such as attending labs and submitting assignments via e-mail to a TA.

Students considering a switch into 15-110 should be aware of our grading policy and these students should not expect grading exceptions to be made. Any missed assignments or labs will be considered missed, regardless of when the student switched into 15-110. However, please note that we do drop some assignments (see below), so your grade may still be unharmed if you act quickly.

Meeting Times

Lecture 1 MWF 2:30 - 3:20, GHC 4401, Penny Anderson, Dilsun Kaynar.
Lecture 2 MWF 3:30 - 4:20, GHC 4401, Penny Anderson, Dilsun Kaynar.
Labs (also known as recitations) R, held by course TAs in GHC 5201 and GHC 5205.

You are required to go to your assigned lecture and lab. Since part of your course grade depends on lab participation, you must go to your assigned section to get lab credit. See Lab Sections and Course Assistants for details.

Course Textbooks

There is no required textbook. We will provide lecture slides and draft lecture notes as needed. We will additionally assign some readings from the book "Blown To Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness after the Digital Explosion" by Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Harry Lewis. Publisher: Addison-Wesley, 2008 (ISBN: 978-0137135592). This book is available for free from http://www.bitsbook.com/. You can buy a hardcopy of this book if you wish from any major bookseller.

The following textbooks are recommended as supplementary resources:


There are two types of assignments you will complete in this course: problems sets (ps) and programming assignments (pa). Problem sets are written assignments that help you test your understanding of conceptual parts in this course. Programming assignments help you test your programming skills or use of other online tools presented in class. Problem sets are handed in in class and programming assignments are handed in using the tool Autolab. You will be assigned about 11 problem sets and 11 programming assignments throughout the semester, but these numbers are subject to change.

Course Grading

All assignments must be handed in on time (unless you are given instructions otherwise). Late or missing work will receive zero credit. The reason this is done is so that we can get feedback to you as quickly as possible so you can learn from your mistakes and prepare for the exams. Additionally, it allows us to post a sample solution as soon as possible for the benefit of all students. We will drop 1 written assignment and 1 programming assignment with the lowest grade (except where noted). You are required to provide documentation if you could not submit an assignment due to a legitimate reason (e.g. major illness, death in immediate family, university-sanctioned event with verification from advisor/coach, etc.). You must take all exams (written and lab exams) at the times they are given. There will be NO MAKEUPS FOR EXAMS allowed except for acceptable documented circumstances such as the ones listed above.

Your course grade will be calculated based on the following:

Homework Assignments: 30%
Lab Participation: 5%
Two Lab Exams: 10% (5% each)
Two Written Exams: 30% (15% each)
Final Exam: 25%

Grades from all assignments and exams may be reviewed for up to 5 days after they are returned/posted. After this period, the grade is considered final and cannot be changed. We reserve the right to review an entire assignment/exam if it is submitted for re-grading.

We use Autolab for releasing all of your grades and we expect you to use it to keep track of your grade status.

Discussion Forum

We will use Piazza for course announcements and online discussions.

Academic Integrity

The value of your degree depends on the academic integrity of yourself and your peers in each of your classes. Please read the University Policy on Academic Integrity carefully to understand the penalties associated with academic dishonesty at Carnegie Mellon University.

Academic integrity means that any work you submit for this course is your own. This is critical to your learning. The policy's intention is that you never hand in something you don't understand. Your understanding must be deep enough that, if necessary, you could re-do the work completely on your own. In short, do your own work.

We want you to collaborate with other students only if the collaboration improves your understanding. Therefore, you can talk about the assignments, but no one may take notes or record the discussion. When you write your solution, it should be yours. Go to a separate area and write your own code or answers. Do this individually so that you don't end up copying someone else's work. Your own solution, even if it is incorrect, is much better than someone else's that you don't understand.

When working on programming assignments, do not look at other students' code or show them your own. If you need that kind of help, get it from the course staff. You may discuss your code at a conceptual level; for example, "do we need a loop for this purpose or just an if-statement?". You may collaborate on code at a whiteboard, but you may not take notes or photographs; the purpose of the collaboration is to develop your understanding so that you can then solve the problem yourself, on your own.

If the course staff sees similarities between your work and that of another student, we will attempt to understand what happened. Usually this involves asking you to explain your work and how you did it, and to re-create the work or solve a related problem during our meeting.

For exams, your work must be your own with no communication between you and others (except course staff), and you may use only authorized materials.

Often students have trouble keeping up with the workload due to personal issues. If this happens to you, your best action is to see your instructors. We can help you work toward a solution and will be happy to assist.

In this class, cheating, copying, or plagiarism means copying all or part of a program or homework solution from another student or unauthorized source, or knowingly giving such information to another student, or handing in a copy of work that you and another student did together, or giving or receiving unauthorized information during an examination. If you use information from another authoritative resource, you must cite the source of this information (and receive permission if required).

Students who violate this policy will be charged with academic dishonesty that can result in failure in this course and possible expulsion from Carnegie Mellon University. Review the official University Code for more information.

Every student is required to sign and return the Academic Integrity Form within the first week of classes.

Students With Disabilities

Individuals with documented disabilities may be eligible to receive services/accomodations from CMU's Equal Opportunity Services (EOS) office. For more information, please contact Larry Powell, Manager of Disability Services at (412) 268-2013 (voice/TTY).

Lab Sections and Course Assistants

You are required to go to your assigned lecture and lab. Since part of your course grade depends on lab participation, you must go to your assigned section to get lab credit. To e-mail your CA directly, you can send a message to their Andrew ID "at" (@) andrew.cmu.edu.

A R 9:30AM-10:20AM GHC 5201 Ben Lam
David Zhu
B R 10:30AM-11:20AM GHC 5205 Felicia Wang
Maung Aung
C R 12:30AM-1:20PM GHC 5201 Niki Maheshwari
Felicia Wang
D R 1:30PM-2:20PM GHC 5205 Andrew Yee
Christine Leung
K R 2:30PM-3:20PM GHC 5201 Matthew Harding
Oliver Liu
E R 3:30PM-4:20PM GHC 5201 Elliott Tan
Yuto Takamoto
M R 4:30PM-5:20PM GHC 5201 Lawrence Tsang ltsang
F R 9:30PM-10:20PM GHC 5205 Maung Aung
Julie Jung
G R 10:30AM-11:20AM GHC 5201 Jeremy Applebaum
Jon Schiavo
H R 12:30AM-1:20AM GHC 5205 David Campbell
Rachel Atkinson
I R 1:30AM-2:20PM GHC 5201 Kevin Chiu
Jonathan Farr
L R 2:30PM-3:20PM GHC 5205 Andrew Holinski
Jon Schiavo
J R 3:30PM-4:20PM GHC 5205 Aline Naroditsky
Mark Smith
N R 4:30PM-5:20PM GHC 5205 Aline Naroditsky
Julie Jung

See the Labs link for detailed information.

Frequently Asked Questions

We are compiling a list of frequently asked questions and our responses. If you cannot find the answer to your question on this list, please send email to: dilsun@cs.cmu.edu or rbd@cs.cmu.edu

Question Answer
I have questions about my assignments that are due soon. How do I get help? You can go to one of the office hours to receive help from the TAs or from instructors. You can also post your question to Piazza to get a response.
How can I find my grades? All your grades are available on Autolab upon being graded.We make every effort to make your grades available within a week of their due date.
Some of my grades are missing from Autolab. What do I need to do? 1. Contact your TA and ask why all or some grades are missing.
2. If the issue is not resolved within a day or two, send an e-mail to the instructors (copy your TA) detailing which grades are missing and your lab section.
Can I switch my recitation section? Yes, as long as we have enough space in the new recitation. You must make an official change of recitations through SIO.
I must be out of town for university related event (e.g. member of a team). What should I do about my assignments? If you have an official excuse we will make special arrangements for you to submit the assignment. Please contact the instructors.
I missed one of the lab sessions. Can I still submit my lab assignment late? No. However, you can drop two labs and we will count this as one of them.
I am out of town attending a family/important even . How can I submit my assignments due for the week? The programming assignment must be submitted online using Autolab if the submission link is active. Otherwise, you should alert the instructors and your TA that the link is not active and that you need to submit your work. The written assignment must be scanned and sent as an attachment to your TA before the due date. However, we can only allow you to do this one time during the semester.
I missed the in class exam because I fell sick. What should I do? You must immediately seek medical treatment and receive an official medical excuse. You must also contact the instructors prior to the exam. If you can produce that we can make arrangements to give you a makeup test. Otherwise, we will be unable to make any exceptions.
I need to discuss my performance in the course with someone. What should I do? You must immediately contact one of the instructors of the course. They will be able to assist you in dealing with the situation.
What is the best way to prepare for an in class exam? If you are attending lectures and doing homeworks, you must be well prepared. All you need to do is to review all lectures and class assignments. We also regularly offer help sessions before the exam. Plan to attend one of them.
I am failing the course. Is there any extra work I can do to get a passing grade? Unfortunately, in a large class like ours, we cannot make exceptions. The best way to avoid this situation is to talk to one of the instructors as soon as possible to find out what you need to do. Do not wait until the last few weeks of classes to discuss your performance.
I want to add this course. Is it possible to do it? You can only add a course during the first two weeks of classes. We do not accept any new students after the second week. However, you are welcome to audit the course, provided we have enough space. Please consult an instructor.