Informatics 41 * Department of Informatics * UC Irvine * Fall 2005


Instructor: David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science (

Teaching assistant: Jeff Ridenour (

Quick links: Textbook Assignments Email archive Past quizzes References Final exam details

Course goals: This course is the first of a three-quarter sequence introducing the field of informatics-- computer science with an emphasis on software and systems design and the human, organizational, and social context surrounding what we design. This course will not only broaden your technical horizons but also focus on systematic problem solving. 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 XP 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: Lecture meets six hours each week: Tuesdays and Thursdays from 11:00 to 12:20 in HH 262 and also from 2:00 to 3:20 in CS 180. At present there are two discussion/lab sections:
1.   MWF 3:00-4:50, starting in CS 219 and continuing in CS 192
2.   MWF 5:00-6:50, starting in CS 213 and continuing in CS 192.

Most of your lab work will be done in pairs, so you should plan always to attend your scheduled lab times so you can work with your partner.

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: Wednesdays from 9:30 to 9:55 and Thursdays from 10:00 to 10:45. 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. The quickest and most effective way to reach me is by electronic mail, as described below.

Questions and announcements: You can usually get a response to your course-related questions within a few hours (a bit less frequently on the weekends) by sending electronic mail to the ID This goes to both of us, and whoever reads it first can respond. If you need to reach one of us individually, use our individual IDs listed above.

We may 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). Don't let this slide; if you miss official announcements, your grade could suffer. If you prefer to read your Email on another account, forwarding instructions appear below.

This course's web page is at; official course Email is archived at; and a course Note Board for student-to-student discussions is available when you log on to .

Textbook: How to Design Programs, by Felleisen, Findler, Flatt, and Krishnamurthi. You will also find the full text of the book on the web at, along with errata, code for the book's examples, and a guide to using the DrScheme software. The on-line version is slightly more current than the print version, but many people find it tiresome to read long technical material on the screen.

At is a list of supplementary references on course topics. These are not required reading (unless we tell you otherwise later).

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 Informatics 41 may use any of the school's instructional computing labs except for times when another course is scheduled in the lab exclusively. See for lab hours and other information. Note in particular that all ICS labs are closed on university holidays, such as the Friday after Thanksgiving (but not the Saturday and Sunday).

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 assignments, some on paper and some on line (25% of the course grade). All the assignments will be available at .
Class participation: Based primarily on participating consistently and effectively in the lab (10%).
Weekly quizzes: Given in lecture every Tuesday morning at 11:00 (30% together). Last year's quizzes are available on the web at; they're an excellent way to prepare and review (but they won't perfectly mirror the form and content of this year's quizzes).
One final exam: On Tuesday, December 6, from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (35%).

We determine final grades neither on a formal curve (with equal numbers of As and Fs, Bs and Ds, etc.) nor on a fixed, straight scale. Scores on the scale shown below will get the grades indicated, but in the past the actual cutoffs have often been lower; this means that you should not assume your grade will be as low as the scale indicates. If you're concerned, check with your TA or the instructor. The basic scale is: grades in the A range (A-, A, and in exceptional cases, A+), 90% and above; grades in the B range, 80%-90%; grades in the C range, 70%-80%.

Your TA has primary responsibility for evaluating your work; go to him first for any questions about grading or scoring. If that does not resolve your question, then see the instructor. The TA and instructor 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're required to say that in unusual circumstances, these criteria could change, but we do not expect that to happen.

What to do this week to get started in Informatics 41:
-- If you do not have a UCInet ID (an account on the EA system for reading electronic mail), get one. See .
-- If you prefer to read your electronic mail on an account other than your UCInet account, redirect your mail at .
-- If you do not have an ICS account for access to the Windows network in ICS, get one. See .
-- On the Web, go to, log in with your UCInet ID, choose "Course Listing," click "Go" next to Informatics 41, and then click "List me for this course." You'll submit some of your work electronically; this step is necessary to set that up.
-- Get a lab printing key-card if you plan to do any printing in the lab.
-- 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 fun--it's a course requirement.) Also turn in your signed Questionnaire to your TA in discussion section.

Good advice and helpful hints: Make every effort to attend the lectures; 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 he will answer questions about it.

Attend your discussion and lab section, too; assignments will be discussed and completed there, exams will be reviewed there, and you can hear a different perspective there than you can in lecture. Don't hesitate to ask your TA to cover things 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. ICS takes academic honesty very seriously; for a more complete discussion, see the ICS departmental web page covering academic honesty issues (

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; zeroes (especially more than one of them) 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 HtDP* text)
1. 27 September Introduction to the course and computing * Information, data, and functions (H1-3)
29 September Conditionals, symbols, and compound data (H4-6) * Abstraction, models, and problem solving
2. 4 October Unions and evaluation (H7-9) * Internet organization
6 October List processing (H10) * Internet services, the web and searching
3. 11 October Numbers and recursion (H11-13) * HTML and web publishing
13 October -- No class meeting --
4. 18 October Lists and trees (H14-16) * Information systems and stakeholders
20 October Complex list processing (H17, 18) * Social impact of computing
5. 25 October Extended example * Operating system functions
27 October Algorithmic abstraction (H19, 20) * Human-computer interaction
6. 1 November Higher-order functions (H21, 22, 24)
3 November Recursive algorithms (H25, 26) * Basic processor operations
7. 8 November Recursive algorithms (H27.1-27.3, 28.1) * Processor operations continued
10 November Program performance (H29) * Memory organization
8. 15 November Accumulators (H30-32) * Machine-level and high-level languages
17 November State and assignment (H34-37) * Data representation in memory
9. 22 November Extended example * Representing graphics. * Data compression * Secondary storage and peripherals
24 November -- No class meeting --
10. 29 November Social and legal issues
1 December Looking back and looking forward (H Epilogue)
6 December Final exam,Tuesday, 10:30 a.m. to12:30 p.m.

* Some chapters in the HtDP book are called Intermezzos. Intermezzo 1, for example, occurs between Chapter 7 and Chapter 9, so it's the same thing as Chapter 8.

David G. Kay, 406B Computer Science
University of California, Irvine
Irvine, CA 92697-3425 -- (949) 824-5072 -- Fax (949) 824-4056 -- Email

Tuesday, November 22, 2005 -- 8:51 PM