Assigned work for CS 173

The work you must do for this course includes


There will be weekly examlets, held at the start of class Tuesdays, beginning in the third week of classes (i.e. the first examlet is on September 9th). We plan 12 examlets, each about 30 minutes long. There will also be a short final exam, treated for grading purposes as a 13th examlet.

When computing final averages, we do not drop any examlet scores. However, during our final exam, you will be able to re-take one examlet (your choice of which). Your retake score will replace your original score if it is better, but retake scores are capped at 80%. Therefore, the retake process is useful only for improving a poor score or filling in a zero.

Review materials for each examlet will be posted on the Exams page about a week before the examlet. Before the first examlet, familiarize yourself with the basic CS 173 exam instructions, since they will not be printed on the exam itself.

Questions on examlets may be include exact copies of homework problems, or similar problems, or problems that are less similar but on the same topic. Because there may be several versions of each examlet, we make no promises about whether you will or won't be doing a problem that you've seen before. Similarly, makeups and retake exams may use previously-seen problems and/or new ones. Therefore, when studying for an examlet, concentrate on mastering general skills rather than memorizing specific solutions.

Readings and reading quizzes

You will need to prepare for each lecture by doing the posted readings and then an on-line quiz based on these readings. These quizzes may also contain questions that review earlier material (including material from course prerequisites). This quiz will be due before the lecture at 1am the night before the lecture.

The reading quizzes are intended to be straightforward if you've made a good-faith attempt to do the readings and are up-to-date with course material. These quizzes give you immediate feedback on your total score and can be submitted as many times as you like.

You should do the reading quizzes on your own, because the process of finding the answers helps you remember the answers. You may use other textbooks and the internet to help find answers, but be aware that some details vary from author to author and you must follow the conventions of our textbook.

We will drop your lowest two quiz scores in computing your reading quiz average.

Moodle will not allow you to submit quizzes late. Moreover, moodle will not let you review answers to an activity that you never submitted. So, make sure to submit at least once before the deadline, even if your submission is incomplete (or even blank). If you were unable to submit a quiz on time for reasons beyond your control, or if you ran into technical issues with your submission, contact your instructor for help.

Discussion problems

You are expected to attend the discussion you are registered for. During discussions, you will work on problems in small groups. Each person must turn in their work for each problem. Use a carbonless-duplicate lab notebook (or something similar) to retain a copy for your own use, as the submitted copies will not be returned.

The expectation is that everyone present at a discussion will receive 100% credit for that week's discussion problems, so discussion averages would largely reflect attendance. However, we reserve the right to take off points (or even give zero credit) if submissions or behavior during discussion suggest that you aren't making a good-faith effort to do the work as intended. We hope this will be extremely rare. The lowest discussion grade will be dropped.


Each week, there will be a "mini-homework" due 11:45pm each Wednesday on moodle. Mini-homework problems are computer-graded questions, but more difficult than those on reading quizzes. Although you may submit answers as many times as you like, you won't receive feedback on your score until the deadline closes.

You are expected to do the mini-homework on your own. You may not ask other students for the answers to those questions (or minor variations of them). However, you may freely discuss the concepts and general issues involved in the questions, and you may get help and hints from course staff e.g. at office hours.

We'll drop your (one) lowest mini-homework grade when computing your mini-homework average.

The policies and warnings about late submissions are the same as for quizzes.

Study problems

Each week, we will post a set of study problems which should be finished by Wednesday evening. You should write up a solution to each problem on your own, as if you were taking an exam or turning in a graded homework. We will post model solutions and notes on how to self-check your answers. You may freely consult friends and/or course staff for help checking your answers and for hints if you get stuck.

Study problems are not graded and do not directly affect your course average. However, they are not optional. If you don't do them, or if you peek at the answers before making a good faith attempt to write your own solutions, you won't be properly prepared to do similar problems on the examlet.

Because other people may not have finished the problems yet, do not hold detailed public discussion of the solutions (e.g. on Piazza) until Thursday morning.

As time permits, we will post additional similar problems, for folks who might have had difficulty doing the study problems and would like additional practice. You might, for example, work on these over the weekend before the corresponding examlet.

Long-form Homework

Approximately every other week, you will be asked to turn in a longer homework problem which will be graded by the course staff and count towards your final grade. These homeworks must be formatted neatly and will be graded for style as well as technical correctness. See our homework style requirements and our moodle homework formatting page.

You must do these problems on your own, seeking help only from standard references (e.g. the textbook) and the course staff. Do not consult friends or classmates. Do not try to find a solution to the assigned problem (e.g. on the internet). You must write up your solution in your own words and do your own text formatting.

We do realize that certain parts of mathematical proofs can be very formulaic, i.e. written exactly the same way in many similar proofs. In such cases, you are allowed to use the same or very similar wording without rephrasing. Also, for some proofs, certain core parts of the algebra may end up nearly identical, even when two people write their solutions independently. When we say "in your own words" or "do your own formatting," we're primarily thinking about the more creative and variable aspects of the solution.

Long-form homeworks will be due Friday at 11:45pm and will be posted about a week before they are due. The moodle submission system allows you to submit a draft and then do further editing later. There is a short grace period on the submission deadline, after which late work will be accepted only if you have a compelling excuse (e.g. illness) and consult the instructor promptly for an extension.