FALL 2003

Instructor: Rich Wheaton
Course Description: The primary goal of CS 1104 is to provide an introduction to the fundamental concepts found throughout the field of computer science. As an overview of the discipline, the course covers a breadth of topics including algorithmic foundations of computer science; hardware issues such as number systems and computer architectures; and software issues such as operating systems, programming languages, compilers, networks, and human-computer interaction. The course is intended for beginning computer science majors. Students come to Virginia Tech with a very wide range of backgrounds in computer science; this course seeks to provide a common foundation and unifying perspective. It is important to note that this class requires the student to read and study the textbook and online course materials. It is most helpful to do this prior to the class period in which specific topics will be covered. Class time will be devoted primarily to presenting special elements of each topic and additional topics that are not covered in the textbook; more general information will be learned through the readings. You will be responsible for the totality of the prescribed textbook content, online course materials, and class presentations.
Pre- or Co-requisites: These will be strictly enforced; no exceptions will be made for any reason.
Required Textbook: G. Michael Schneider & Judith L. Gersting, An Invitation to Computer Science, Java Version, Brooks/Cole Thomson Learning, 2000.
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Grading: exercises (25%), homework assignments (25%), quizzes (25%), final exam (25%).

Exercises, homework, and quizzes require the use of Blackboard. Therefore, it is extremely important that students become familiar with Blackboard as soon as possible. In addition, past experience has shown that students working off campus often experience connectivity problems, longer delays when submitting to Blackboard, and other abnormalities, all of which can cause a student to receive a zero on an assignment. Therefore it is highly recommended that students use on-campus connectivity which using Blackboard.


Throughout the semester there will be numerous short graded exercises. The purpose of these activities is to encourage you to keep up with the material and to give you opportunities to work with the concepts interactively. They are open book, but there is a time limit that will prevent you from looking everything up from scratch!

Every exercise is worth the same amount of points relative to every other one, e.g., if there are 20 exercises, each is worth 1/20 of the 25% mentioned above. There will be no make-up opportunities for exercises. However, the two lowest scores in this category will be dropped. See the course calendar for due dates for all exercises.


A homework assignment is a set of problems that should be solved off-line, and then a series of questions on the results must beanswered in Blackboard. There will be 5 homework assignments during the semester. The lowest homework score will be dropped, and each of the remaining 4 homeworks will be equally weighted when calculating the homework average. See the course calendar for due dates.


A quiz is a short multiple-choice test taken in Blackboard. Although a quiz is open-book, you should study beforehand because there will not be enough time for you to look up answers in real time and finish the entire quiz. There will be 7 quizzes in the semester. All quizzes will be equally weighted, and no quizzes will be dropped.

Final Examination: The final examination will be a multiple choice, closed-book, closed-notes examination.
Course Policies:

Reading assignments. You are responsible for keeping up with the textbook reading schedule given on the course calendar. You should read each assigned chapter or section in its entirety at least once. The homeworks and quizzes will be based on the readings and lecture notes.

Valid excuses. If you miss completing an activity or assignment for a reason that you believe to be valid (illness, death in the family, etc.) you must notify the professor as soon as possible. Your explanation will only be considered if you present a note explaining the situation; recall that Virginia Tech operates under a honor code. Thus there is no necessity to bring any "evidence" such as a doctor's note. If the reason for absence is such that it is excused by the Dean's office, they will inform the professor of the absence. Since the final examination is a common-time examination set by the university, no make-ups or rescheduling will be allowed.

Missing or lost homeworks and quizzes. Since everything is on-line, you should keep your own paper-trail of completed assignments. Print a copy of the graded results; these will be available once the deadline for a given assignment has passed.

Questions about grading. While the professor establishes grading standards, the machine actually grades exercises, quizzes, and homework assignments. If you have a strong disagreement with an answer then you must bring this to the attention of the instructor as soon as possible so that ALL student submissions may be regraded. All questions regarding grading must be resolved within one week of the required completion date. In case your grade is incorrectly recorded, you will need to bring a copy of the graded original in order for the recorded grade to be changed. In a class this large, no matter how hard we try, there may be some incorrectly recorded grades, and you must show the graded original to the instructor or a GTA to get an erroneous grade corrected.

Honor Code: The Virginia Tech Honor Code will be strictly enforced in this class. The work you submit must be your own. All aspects of your course work are covered by the Virginia Tech Honor System. Honesty in your academic work will develop into professional integrity. The Faculty and Students of Virginia Tech will not tolerate any form of academic dishonesty. Any violations will be referred to Judicial Affairs, Office of Student Affairs, and may result in an Honor Code case.
CS Department's Koofer Policy: The CS Department's "Policy on Koofers, Old Programs, Cheating, and Computer Use" applies to this course; that document is on the Web at http://www.cs.vt.edu/academics/ugrad/Handbook/koof.html, and is part of this syllabus.
Special Needs: If any student needs special accommodations because of a disability, please contact the instructor during the first week of classes.