Each student must register for one of ten biweekly lab sections, which meet every Wednesday and Friday. As with lectures, lab attendance is strongly encouraged, but not mandatory.
At least during the first few weeks of the semester, please attend only the lab sections for which you are officially registered. Students who want to swap labs with another student should contact one of the TAs.
The labs are opportunities for you to develop your problem-solving and presentation skills. In each lab meeting, the course staff and the students will work on a small set of closely related problems, usually similar to problems in the current week's homework.
In a typical lab meeting, after giving the students a few minutes to read and understand the problems, the TA walks through the process of solving the first problem on the lab handout. Then the students break into groups of 3–5 to work on the remaining problems, with feedback and suggestions from the course staff and from each other. At the end of the meeting, the TA quickly walks through the solutions to the remaining problems, with help from the students. If necessary, the TAs may also briefly review material from past lectures or prerequisite courses, but they will not present new course material.
We will post lab handouts to the course web site (both here and on the week-by-week schedule) at the beginning of each week. We strongly encourage you to look at the problems beforehand and to continue working on them after your section ends. In particular, we strongly encourage discussion on Ed Discussion and/or Discord after each lab session; students who post correct solutions or insightful hints for lab problems will get some extra credit. The course staff also will answer questions, provide hints, and give feedback on proposed solutions in office hours.
The point of the labs is to practice hunting (problem solving), not to acquire more meat (solutions). Our main job is to give you guidance in how to solve problems—how to track the wily inductive hypothesis, what bait best attracts fooling sets, how to sound the mating call of the dynamic programming recurrence, how to protect yourself from a swarm of angry vertices, how to safely build a trap for an undecidability proof—not just to show you answers.
That said, we also post solutions to each lab a day or two afterward, so that you can evaluate the results of your hunt. But don't make the mistake of thinking that you can learn to solve problems by reading solutions. The only way to learn to solve problems is to practice solving problems.