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Computer Science 21 / Math 19 / Engg 66
Discrete Mathematics in Computer Science

Amit Chakrabarti

Winter 2004

Administrative Details


There will be a homework given out almost every class and it will be due at the beginning of the next class. Homework is to be submitted before you come into class in the homework box labeled "CS 21 Turn in Homework Here," right outside the classroom (Sudikoff 115). You are allowed to hand in upto three late homeworks (which must, under all circumstances, be handed in by the start of the next class) throughout the term, for no penalty. Beyond these three, late homeworks will receive half credit, but only if the grader has time to grade them. There is no guarantee that three late homeworks handed in during the last week of the term will be graded, even if these are a student's only late homeworks.

Exceptions to the above will only be made in truly exceptional circumstances.


There will be homework tutorials on Sunday, Tuesday, and Thursday evenings, as mentioned under Administrative Basics. The tutor will have done the problems, but is not supposed to do them for you; rather he will attempt to help you figure out how to do problems you are having trouble with. Thus you should be prepared to tell the tutor what you have tried so far and what results you have obtained.

Group Work and Classroom Activity

The teaching method for the course is based on student group discussion of problems in class for about half of each class period. These group discussions are followed by whole-class discussions which explain the ideas behind the problems and amplify on them. There is a good bit of research that shows students retain more information when they "construct" their own understanding of it in some way; the teaching method is designed to foster such constructions while covering the material in discrete mathematics that computer science students need to know. Interviews of students from earlier offerings of this course found that students believed at the end of the term that trying to solve problems that introduced ideas before the ideas were presented in class was helpful. Most students felt that working on these problems in small groups contributed to their understanding. Not all students have felt this way.

A piece of wisdom handed down to me by Professor Bogart — who has been instrumental in designing and teaching this course for many years — is that while different students learn in different ways, students who did not find small group work helpful either did not try hard enough to make the groups work for them or were matched with people who did not try hard enough.

It will be possible for the composition of the groups to change from day to day, and the formation of the groups on any given day will be based in large part on student choice. Therefore the student who wants to try to get the benefits of group work should be able to do so. Obviously it is difficult to participate in a group if you don't come to class, so regular class attendance is strongly encouraged! It has been difficult for students who come to class late to catch up with whatever group they join, and it disrupts the flow of ideas in this group. Thus for reasons of self interest and common courtesy, it is especially important to come to class on time.

Although the reasons for group work are based on research in learning, it is worth mentioning that people responsible for hiring in business usually put very high priority on a recruit's ability to function as part of a team.

Working Together and the Honor Principle

Students are encouraged to work together to do homework problems. Groups who work well together in class should consider working together to do homework. What is important is a student's eventual understanding of homework problems, and not how that is achieved.

The honor principle applies to homework in the following way. What a student turns is as a homework solution is to be his or her own understanding of how to do the problem. In preparing the draft of the homework to be turned in, a student may not consult the notes or homework solutions of another student or any solutions to homework problems in past offerings of the course posted on the web. Students may consult any source (including those just forbidden for the final draft), except for another student's final draft, in learning how to do homework problems. Students must state what sources they have consulted, with whom they have collaborated, and from whom they have received help. However students are discouraged from using solutions to problems posted on the web for previous offerings of the course, and as just stated, must reference them if they use them.

The honor principle applies to exams as follows. Students may not give or receive assistance of any kind on an exam from any person except for the professor or someone explicitly designated by the professor to answer questions about the exam.

Students with Disabilities

Any student with a documented disability needing academic adjustments or accommodations is requested to speak with the professor by Jan 20. All discussions will remain confidential, although the Academic Skills Center may be consulted to verify the documentation of the disability and advise on an appropriate response to the need.
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