"A broad survey of the computer science discipline, focusing on the computer's role in representing, storing, manipulating, organizing and communicating information. Topics to include hardware, software, algorithms, operating systems, networks."
Our goal for the course is to explore a broad view of the computer science discipline, emphasizing the connections between individual aspects. To truly understand the capabilities of computing systems, we must recognize how various forms of data are represented digitally, how the major hardware components store and operate on such data, and how software is developed to control the systems. We will examine the role of operating systems and networks in coordinating the usage of shared resources and in communicating information. We will also consider the use of computers in the larger society, the ethical implications of these uses, and whether there are inherent limitations to the power of computers.
For students considering further computer science offerings, this course provides an accurate picture of what lies ahead, hopefully increasing interest in the discipline. In fact, in many ways, each week of this course will introduce a particular topic that is the focus of an entire course later in the program, such as programming, architecture, algorithms, or networking. The course is also valuable for students who wish to take a single computer science course providing a coherent vision of the entire field.
We should note that computer programming is not a primary focus
of this course. The university offers several introductory
computer programming courses
Email contact with the course instructor is a necessity in this class, since homework will primarily be submitted via email. I will check email several times throughout the work day, and will also check email at least once per evening to answer questions and resolve issues. Email contact over the weekend may be more sporadic, although I will be sure to check at least once.
In terms of email contact, please keep questions as specific as possible. Also, please keep in mind that it is a lot harder to answer 20 emails at 11pm the day before homework is due, so I make no guarantees about getting back to you immediately! Please ask questions as early as possible, since that is the best way to ensure prompt responses.
Computers will be an integral part of this course, particularly for homework. However, we will not typically need the computers in the class room during lecture. Unless otherwise directed during the course of class, please do not use the computers provided or personal laptops during lecture. Should you require the use of a computer for a special reason, contact the instructor, and we can make special accomidations.
Similarly, you are unlikely to need cell phones during the course of lecture. Please ensure that your cell phone is set to vibrate or silent during lecture, and do not send text messages of any kind.
There will be a total of 10-12 graded homeworks throughout the course of the semester. Each homework must be submitted via email to the instructor and will be due by 11:59pm on the due date specified. Late homeworks will not be accepted. To offset this fairly draconian policy, students will be allowed to drop the lowest homework grades.
As discussed below, students are expected to complete assignments individually and using only approved course materials.
There will be quizzes at least weekly (and possibly more often) over material covered in lecture. My plan is to have these offered on the course blackboard site, so stay tuned for more details.
Letter grades will be based on each students overall percentage of awarded points according to the following formula.
Any modification to this scale at the end of the year will be in favor of the students. That is we may later decide to award an A to a student who is slightly below the above cutoff, but we certainly will not deny an A from someone who is above the cutoff.
Most assignments will include a small extra credit challenge. Notice, however, that the actual extra credit given for these challenges is relatively insignificant. Students who are seriously concerned about improving their overall grade would be best advise to focus all efforts on doing as well as possible on the required work and in preparing for exams.
Our true reason for including these opportunities is to provide some fun and encouragement for students who wish to dig a bit deeper than was required in an assignment. For those students, the chosen extra credit challenges provide a good next step.
Late homework will not be accepted in this class. Homework will be submitted electronically, and must be emailed to the instructor by 11:59pm on the date due. In unusual circumstances, such as extreme illness or injury (documented by a doctor's note), family emergencies, etc., please contact the instructor as early as possible to arrange accomidations.
In the context of this course, I encourage students to discuss general course material, which includes studying for exams, sharing notes if a student must miss class, and working on any practice problems which are assigned. However, all work which will be submitted for a grade must be completed by individuals. In addition, the only acceptable sources of information are the course textbook, the instructor, official university tutors, or other sources which are explicitly mentioned in an assignment. Students may not use other sources, including (but not limited to) websites other than the official course website or those explicitly listed in course materials, textbooks other than those officially listed below, or students (either past or present).
Students who violate academic integrity policies will be reported to the department. First time offenses on homework will result in a minimum of a failing grade on the assignment in question, with egregious or repeated offenses resulting in failure in the course. In addition, students may be referred to the College of Arts and Sciences for further disciplinary action.
The following is a statement of minimum standards for student academic integrity at Saint Louis University; I expect full compliance with the policies described.
The University is a community of learning, whose effectiveness requires an environment of mutual trust and integrity, such as would be expected at a Jesuit, Catholic institution. As members of this community, students, faculty, and staff members share the responsibility to maintain this environment. Academic dishonesty violates it. Although not all forms of academic dishonesty can be listed here, it can be said in general that soliciting, receiving, or providing any unauthorized assistance in the completion of any work submitted toward academic credit is dishonest. It not only violates the mutual trust necessary between faculty and students, but also undermines the validity of the University’s evaluation of students and takes unfair advantage of fellow students.
Further, it is the responsibility of any student who observes such dishonest conduct to call it to the attention of a faculty member or administrator.
Examples of academic dishonesty would be copying from another student, copying from a book or class notes during a closed-book exam, submitting materials authored by or editorially revised by another person but presented as the student’s own work, copying a passage or text directly from a published source without appropriately citing or recognizing that source, taking a test or doing an assignment or other academic work for another student, tampering with another student’s work, securing or supplying in advance a copy of an examination without the knowledge or consent of the instructor, and colluding with another student or students to engage in an act of academic dishonesty.
Where there is clear indication of such dishonesty, a faculty member or administrator has the responsibility to apply appropriate sanctions. Investigations of violations will be conducted in accord with standards and procedures of the school or college through which the course or research is offered. Recommendations of sanctions to be imposed will be made to the dean of the school or college in which the student is enrolled. Possible sanctions for a violation of academic integrity include, but are not limited to, disciplinary probation, suspension, and dismissal from the University.
In recognition that people learn in a variety of ways and that learning is influenced by multiple factors (e.g., prior experience, study skills, learning disability), resources to support student success are available on campus. Students who think they might benefit from these resources can find out more about:
Students who believe that, due to a disability, they could benefit from academic accommodations are encouraged to contact Disability Services at 314-977-8885 or visit the Student Success Center. Confidentiality will be observed in all inquiries.
Course instructors support student accommodation requests when an approved letter from Disability Services has been received and when students discuss these accommodations with the instructor after receipt of the approved letter.
Our department employees many junior/senior computer science majors to help out in our department labs. Those students are also available to provide assistance with course materials at such times.
Our department web page maintains a current list of the available times and locations.
As stated in the Academic Integrity policy, these workers are an acceptable resource for help, yet you should still document both the source of the help as well as the extent, if significant.
In addition to the course text, many other books give an overview of computer science in the same spirit as the book we have chosen. We list a selection of such books for those interested. Keep in mind that these books are NOT required; they are merely included as additional references for those who are interested in further reading in this subject.