15-214 Principles of Software System Construction Course Policies
Software engineers today are less likely to design data structures and
algorithms from scratch and more likely to build systems from library
and framework components. In this course, students engage with concepts
related to the construction of software systems at scale, building on
their understanding of the basic building blocks of data structures,
algorithms, program structures, and computer structures. The course
covers technical topics in four areas: (1) concepts of design for
complex systems, (2) object oriented programming, (3) static and
dynamic analysis for programs, and (4) concurrent and distributed
software. Student assignments involve engagement with complex software
such as distributed massively multi-player game systems and frameworks
for graphical user interaction.
After completing this course, students will:
- Be comfortable programming in the Java language
- Have experience designing medium-scale systems with patterns
- Understand principles of concurrency
- Have experience applying analysis tools to software
- 15-122 or 15-211, or equivalent with instructor's permission
- The equivalent of 2 semester-long programming classes
- Ability to write small programs in C (or Java, C#, or other
imperative languages with pointers or references)
- Ability to reason about programs using preconditions,
postconditions, and invariants
- Familiarity with a basic set of algorithms and data structures
(linked lists, simple graph and sorting algorithms)
Evaluation will be based on the following approximate percentages:
- 60% assignments
- 15% midterm exam
- 20% final exam
- 5% participation
This is a 12-unit course, and it is our intention to manage it so that
you spend close to 12 hours a week on the course, on average. In
general, 4 hours/week will be spent in class and 8 hours on
assignments. Please feel free to give the course staff feedback
on how much time the course is taking for you.
Late Work Policy
Each student has five late days for the semester, and you may use up to two late days for each assignment unless the policy for the assignment specifies otherwise.
If you run out of late days you may still turn in your work up to two days late,
but your work will receive a 10% penalty per day it is late after you
run out of late days.
Work turned in more than two days late will only be accepted under
For example, consider a homework assignment due Tuesday night. If you have one late day remaining you may turn in that assignment on Thursday night, which would use your last late day and also receive a 10% penalty. If you have no late days remaining you may still turn in that assignment Thursday night, but it would receive a 20% penalty. Work turned in Friday night (3 days late) would receive no credit regardless of how many late days you have remaining; we only accept work two days late no matter how many late days you have.
A student may use her five late days only for the individual (non-partner-based) assignments in the semester. We will make separate late-day provisions for any partner-based assignments.
We expect that your work on assignments, projects, and exams will be
your own work.
Thus, you may not copy any part of a solution to a problem that was
written by another student, or was developed together with another
student, or was copied from another unauthorized source such as the
Internet. You may not look at another student's solution, even if
you have completed your own, nor may you knowingly give your solution
to another student or leave your solution where another student can see
If any of your work contains any statement that was not
written by you, you must put it in quotes and cite the source. If you
are paraphrasing an idea you read elsewhere, you must acknowledge the
source. Using existing material without proper citation is
plagiarism, a form of cheating. If there is any question about
the material is permitted, you must get permission in advance. We
will be using automated systems to detect software plagiarism.
It is not considered cheating to clarify vague points in the
assignments, lectures, lecture notes, or to give help or receive help
in using the computer systems, compilers, debuggers, profilers, or
Some assignments are specifically noted as group projects. For
these, interpret "you" in the preceeding paragraphs to mean "you and
Any violation of this policy
is cheating. The minimum penalty for cheating (including
plagiarism) will be a zero
grade for the whole assignment. Cheating incidents will also be
reported through University channels, with possible additional
disciplinary action. For more information, see the University Policy on Academic Integrity.
If you have any question about how this policy
applies in a particular situation, ask the instructors or TAs for
If you wish to request an accommodation due to a documented disability,
please inform your instructor as soon as possible and contact
Disability Resources at 412.268.2013 or firstname.lastname@example.org.