ICS 31: Introduction to Programming

Instructor: David G. Kay, 5056 Donald Bren Hall (DBH) (kay@uci.edu)

Quick links: Assignments Quizzes Piazza (Q&A) Textbook home page References

Course goals: This course is the first of a three-quarter sequence introducing computer science through computer programming. This course will broaden your technical horizons, focus on systematic problem solving, and possibly change the way you look at the world. We welcome you and we hope you enjoy it.

Prerequisite concepts: This course does not expect any previous experience in computer science or computer programming. If you do have some experience, you will find some topics familiar but many others will certainly be new to you.

We do expect each student to be able to navigate the Windows systems in our labs, to navigate the World-Wide Web, to download and read documents in Adobe Acrobat (pdf) format, and to read and send electronic mail. Some of our assignments will require these skills. If you need to pick these skills up or sharpen them, do it in the first week of the quarter; speak with us if you need a hand.

Meeting place and times: Tuesdays and Thursdays, 8:00 a.m. to 9:20 a.m., in Biological Sciences 3 room 1200.

Lab sections, TAs, and tutors: Each student must enroll in one of these lab sections:

TA (Email @uci.edu)
MWF 8–9:50
ICS 183
Sen Hirano (shirano)
Brandon Su, Hyung Jay Yang
MWF 10–11:50
ICS 183 Sen Hirano (shirano)
Baldwin Chang, Aaron Daniel
MWF 12–1:50
ICS 183
John Brock (jhbrock)
Jonathan Budi, Yang Jiao
MWF 12–1:50
ICS 189
Negar Aref (naref)
David Kuang, Yuhong Li
MWF 2–3:50
ICS 183
Negar Aref (naref)
Jessica Parhusip, Michael Punla
MWF 2–3:50
ICS 189
Abhinav Kulkarni (amkulkar)
Ada Guan, Yisheng Zhou
MWF 4–5:50
ICS 183
John Brock (jhbrock)
Paul Espitia, Yuang Li

None of the six scheduled lab hours each week are optional. Most of your lab work will be done in pairs, so the scheduled lab times are the best times to work with your partner. Because the labs are mostly full, if you want to change your enrollment from one lab section to another, you need to find a person who wants to make the opposite change and the two of you must go in person to the ICS Student Affairs Office as soon as possible, but definitely before the end of the second week.

Office hours: You are welcome to drop by my office at any time. If I'm there and not immersed in something else, I'll be glad to chat about the course material or other topics. I will definitely be in or near my office during these scheduled hours, during which course-related matters will have first priority: Tuesdays from 12:30 to 1:15 and Thursdays from 2:00 to 2:30. I may adjust these times at the end of the first week. Of course emergencies may come up, but I will try to give advance notice of any change. I'll also be happy to make arrangements for other times during the week; "making an appointment" is no big deal (but if you make one, don't skip it without getting in touch). The quickest and most effective way to reach me is by electronic mail, as described below.

Questions and announcements: You can get a response to your course-related questions most quickly by posting them at Piazza.com. If you need to reach one of us privately, use our individual IDs listed above. I will never intentionally ignore a message, so if you don't receive a response, write again; sometimes overactive spam filters snag a legitmate message. Using course-specific subject lines and your UCInet Email address will help your messages get noticed.

We will also send course announcements by Email to the official course mailing list, so you should check your Email daily. Note that this mailing list goes to the Email address that the registrar has for you (your UCInet ID). If you prefer to read your Email on another account, forwarding instructions appear below. Don't let this slide; if you miss official announcements, your grade could suffer.

This course's web page is at http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/31 and official course Email is archived at eee.uci.edu; follow the link on your MyEEE page.

Textbooks and software: Our textbook is Introduction to Computing Using Python: An Application Development Focus, by Ljubomir Perkovic. We will follow the text pretty closely, though we will cover some topics in class that aren't in the book. The text has a web site that includes downloadable versions of the programs in the book.

The Python software you need for your work (Python 3.3 and the IDLE environment) is installed on every machine in the ICS labs. Because every lab assignment is done with a partner, you'll do much of your work in the scheduled labs. You are also welcome to install Python on your personal machine; we just have to say that because everyone's computer is configured a little differently, we can't promise to fix the installation problems that may come up on your own machine. At http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/31/refs.html is a list of supplementary references on course topics, including information about installing Python.

Labs and lab hours: Of course you will need to do some of your work outside of the scheduled Monday/Wednesday/Friday lab hours. Students in ICS 31 may use any of the school's instructional computing labs except for times when another course is scheduled in the lab exclusively. See http://www.ics.uci.edu/~lab for lab hours and other information. Note in particular that all ICS labs are closed on university holidays.

Please remember that programming tasks always take longer to complete than you think they will, no matter how much experience you have. You must account for this as you plan your time; we cannot accept busy schedules or time mismanagement as an excuse for late or incomplete assignments.

Course structure:
• Weekly lab assignments (30% of the course grade). All the assignments will be available at
• Class participation: Based primarily on participating consistently and effectively in the lab, including turning in a partner evaluation for each lab assignment. Contributing on Piazza.com can help your score here, too. (10%)
• Weekly quizzes: Given on line through EEE, available from noon to midnight every Monday. (10% together)Because these are self-graded, you get credit for completing them, whatever your answers. We can't support make-ups for missed quizzes, since you just have to read and submit them each week on EEE. This is easy credit to get; just don't forget to do the quiz each Monday. (The foolish student would take the opportunity to answer "Zot! Zot! Zot!" to every question, giving them no thought. The wise student will take the time to work through the quizzes independently, recognizing that these are previews of exam questions and an excellent way to prepare, review, and assess one's mastery of the material when the chips are down.)
• Two midterms: Given in lecture, the first will be on Tuesday, January 29 and the second on Thursday, February 21 (20%, with the second being weighted more than the first). We can't give make-ups for missed midterms, but if you miss one for a good reason (and let us know about it), we won't count it against your grade.
• One final exam: On Tuesday, March 19, from 8:00 to 10:00 a.m. (30%).

Your TA has primary responsibility for evaluating your work; see the TA first for any questions about grading or scoring. If that does not resolve your question, then see the instructor. To compensate for differences in grading between different TAs, we will calculate final grades for each TA's students separately rather than for the entire class as one group. Thus, comparison of scores between TAs is meaningless.

Lab scores will be recorded on the web in the EEE gradebook. We will be happy to correct any errors that do occur, but we must ask that you bring us your grading questions within a week after the item is returned; the course moves quickly and we simply can't deal with assignments long past.

We find that we obtain the fairest grade outcomes overall by not committing in advance to a specific fixed point scale for assigning final letter grades in the course. Thus, it is not possible to calculate your letter grade precisely until all the work has been done. We urge everyone to focus not on letter grades but on learning what's necessary to earn high scores; the grades will follow from that. You should check the EEE gradebook periodically to make sure your assignment scores have been recorded correctly. EEE also indicates where your score falls compared to other students; if you find yourself in the bottom quarter consistently, talk with your TA or the instructor.

We're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these policies may change, but we do not expect that to happen.

Special needs: Any student who feels he or she may need an accommodation due to a disability should contact the UCI Disability Services Center at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to explore the possible range of accommodations. We encourage all students having difficulty, whether or not due to a disability, to consult privately with the TA or instructor at any time.

What to do this week to get started in ICS 31:
If you do not have a UCInet ID, get one (see http://activate.uci.edu/).
Learn how to read electronic mail sent to your UCInet ID (see http://www.oit.uci.edu/email/). If you prefer to read your electronic mail on an account other than your UCInet account, redirect your mail at http://www.oit.uci.edu/email/deliverypoint.html.
If you do not have an ICS account for access to the Windows network in ICS, get one. See http://www.ics.uci.edu/~lab/students/acct_activate.php. The labs will have temporary IDs for the first week or two; get your own ID some time in that period.
On the Web, go to checkmate.ics.uci.edu, log in with your UCInet ID, choose "Winter 2013" and "Course Listing," click "Go" next to ICS 31, and then click "List me for this course." You'll submit some of your work electronically; this step is necessary to set that up.
Sign yourself up for ICS 31 at Piazza.com and read a little bit there about how the site works.
Get a lab printing key-card if you plan to do any printing in the lab. See http://www.ics.uci.edu/~lab/students/printing.php.
Give a snapshot of yourself (with your name written on the back) to your TA. This will help us learn your names quickly. (This is not just for funit's a course requirement.)
Complete the survey at http://eee.uci.edu/survey/ics31.w13.q.

Good advice and helpful hints:

Make every effort to attend each class meeting; we will often cover material that isn't directly in the textbook. It's not fair to ask the TA simply to repeat lecture material you missed, though of course the TA will always answer questions about it. And even though UCI Replay recordings will be available for most class sessions, they don't capture everything that goes on in class and they aren't 100% reliable (i.e., some days there will be no recording).

Attend your lab section, too; you will do most of your lab work there, and you can get a different perspective from the TA than you hear in lecture. Don't hesitate to ask your TA to address topics that will help you. Since most of your work will be done with a partner, your partner also depends on your consistent presence.

Check your electronic mail regularly; this is an official channel for course announcements.

Keep up with the reading; you'll need it to do your assignments, and the quarter system goes so fast that a few missed pages can quickly become a few chapters if you're not careful. You will want to read the assigned sections early so you can ask us about parts that aren't clear.

The assignments, like all technical specifications, require careful and thorough reading and re-reading. Expect to refer back to the assignment often, and check it first when you have questions about what's required or how to proceed. Before you come to lab, be sure to read the assignment to get an idea of what's required.

Start each assignment early. Assignments will be due weekly, but you'll need to spend some time on them nearly every day. Programming always takes longer to complete than you think it will, even if you have previous programming experience. By starting early, you'll have time to ask in discussion section about problems you encounter.

If you find yourself having trouble or getting behind, speak with your TA or the instructor. We have lots of ways to help. But never take the shortcut of copying someone else's work and turning it in; the consequences can be far worse than just a low score on a lab assignment or exam. ICS takes academic honesty very seriously; for a more complete discussion, see our course collaboration guidelines (http://www.ics.uci.edu/~kay/courses/31/collab.html) and the ICS departmental web page covering academic honesty issues (http://www.ics.uci.edu/ugrad/policies/index.php#academic_honesty).

Turn in whatever portion of an assignment you have completed on the due date. It's much better to turn in something rather than nothing; zeroes are hard to make up. In some circumstances you may arrange with your TA to work further on an assignment after the due date, but you must turn in whatever you have when the official due date comes. Likewise, don't skip any quizzes if you can help it; too many zeroes will significantly lower your overall score.

Always keep your own copy of each assignment, both electronically and on paper; if an assignment should get lost in the shuffle (or if a file server in the lab should crash, which has happened), we'll expect you to be able to supply a replacement easily.

Approximate course outline:

Week Date Topics (and chapters in the Perkovic text)
1. 8 January Introduction to the course and computing • Models and abstraction • Data/information and operations/functions (1.1–1.4)
10 January Evaluating expressions • Numbers and strings • Variables (2.1, 2.2)
2. 15 January Multiple-valued data • Namedtuples • Lists (2.3, 2.4)
17 January More on programming with multiple-valued data (2.5, 2.6)
3. 22 January Programmer-defined functions • Design recipe • Arguments and parameters (3.3, 3.5)
24 January Imperative programming • Input and output • Control structures (3.1, 3.2)
4. 29 January — First Midterm —
31 January More on defining functions (3.6)
5. 5 February More on programming with control structures for selection and repetition (3.4)
7 February Strings and text processing (4.1)
6. 12 February Formatting output (4.2)
14 February Files (4.3, 4.4)
7. 19 February Control structures revisited (5.1, 5.2, 5.4, 5.5, 5.6)
21 February — Second Midterm —
8. 26 February Extended example
28 February Combining data structures (5.3)
9. 5 March Dictionaries (6.1)
7 March Tuples and sets (6.2)
10. 12 March Extended Example (6.4)
14 March Looking back and looking forward
F. 19 March Final exam, Tuesday, 8:00 to 10:00 a.m.

David G. Kay, kay@uci.edu
Sunday, September 22, 2013 11:40 AM