CSCI-C 102
Great Ideas in Computing
Summer 2018

Esfandiar Haghverdi
Luddy Hall 3154
Office Hours: T,Th 5:00-6:00 pm.

Katie Siek
Informatics East 267
Office Hours: T, Th 8:00-9:00am.


2:15 pm -3:30 pm, Teter F160



Weekly schedule

Description: In this course we will explore information technology and discuss the role it plays in our society. In the first half of the course, students will explore how to design and build a technology that addresses a societal challenge. In the second half of the course, systematic approaches to problem solving and logical thinking will be thoroughly covered using examples from mathematics, computer science, and logic. Time permitting we will also study some important algorithms that have become an integral and crucial part of our daily lives, such as PageRank (used by Google) and Public Key Cryptography (RSA).

Curiosity and diligence.

Learning Outcomes:

  • (Gen Ed Learning Outcome) the ability to model and understand the physical and natural world;
  • (Gen Ed Learning Outcome) the ability to solve problems;
  • (Gen Ed Learning Outcome) analytical and/or quantitative skills;
  • the ability to design and build a 3D printed artifact;
  • the ability to design and print a laser printed artifact
  • the ability to clearly identify what a given problem is asking for and what data are provided that might lead towards a solution;
  • the ability to program basic input and output to an embedded system;
  • the ability to apply Polya's method to solve problems;
  • the ability to provide a suitable model to solve a problem;
  • the ability to plan and execute a solution strategy based on a chosen model;
  • the ability to reason using propositional logic;
  • the ability to use mathematical induction;
  • the ability to read and understand mathematical text.

Topics covered:

  • Introduction to problem solving
  • Propositional Logic
  • Formal Proofs
  • Set Theory
  • Predicate Logic
  • Mathematical Induction
  • Search engine indexing
  • PageRank algorithm
  • Public Key Cryptography
  • Communicating with faculty

Required Textbooks:

  1. Notes on logic and math foundations will be provided free of charge.

Recommended Textbooks:

  1. Sew Electric,Leah Buechley, Kanjun Qiu, and Sonja de Boer, HLT Press, 2013. (Most materials we will use are freely available online
  2. Unlocking the Clubhouse, Women in Computing, Jane Margolis and Allan Fisher, MIT Press, 2003.

Handouts and Homework: All handouts and homework assignments will be posted on Oncourse.


  • Professionalism: 10%
    • Professionalism covers everything from being on time to class, submitting assignments on time, preparing for classes by reading assignments and readings, participating in class, communicating in written, oral, and digital form professionally, conducting oneself ethically, and general respect for classmates, instructors, and instruction spaces.
  • Homework assignments: 15%
    • Students should always assume that there is homework each evening.
    • The first half of the course will have individual and group assignments that build on each other so that students can create a computational artifact.
      1. Assignments must be typed and available on the team website.
      2. Assignments where students design an artifact or create code must be available for the instructors to access online (e.g., the file should be the correct file type, uploaded to a fileshare service (e.g.,, and made accessible to the instructors for downloading).
      3. Students must read the assigned websites, handouts, and text before class in preparation for active labs and possibly quizzes.
    • The second half of the course assignments will consist of the following parts:
      1. Regular problems: A set of problems chosen from several sources including the textbooks above.
      2. Reading assignment from the textbook or other handouts.
      3. Solutions must be written LEGIBLY.
      4. It is encouraged to discuss the problem sets with others, but everyone needs to turn in a unique personal write-up.
  • Group project report and a poster (Underrepresented Minories in Computing): 25%
  • Midterm (Artifact and a video): 20%
  • Final Exam: 30%.
    • Final exam is scheduled on TBA in class.

Ground rules:

  • We strongly advise you to attend all the classes and take good notes.
  • Late homework will NOT be accepted. However, the lowest homework grade will be dropped.
  • There will be NO make-up midterm exams.
  • The final grade will be calculated according to the evaluation scheme given above and these grades will then be curved to determine your letter grades. However if you get less that 25/100 on the final project or your total grade is less than 45/100 your final grade will automatically be an F.
  • NO Incomplete grades will be given under any condition.
  • NO extra work, extra credit or anything outside the regular homeworks and projects will be assigned. Please plan your study strategy during the term accordingly.
  • Emails:
    We all get more email than we can read every day. If you email the instructor concerning this course, it is VITAL that you begin the subject line with "GIC:" and follow this tag with a meaningful subject line (e.g., GIC: 2 Questions about Midterm Project Pseudocode); otherwise your message may not get read as soon as you might hope. Email communication will be considered as part of the Professionalism grade. If you are unsure how to email a professor, we strongly recommend you review this article.
  • Grading mistakes:
    If during the semester you feel there has been a mistake made in your grading by the AIs, please contact them first. If after meeting with the AIs you still feel there is a problem with the marking, please contact us.
  • Collaborative work:
    One of the best ways to learn new material is to collaborate in groups. You may discuss the homework problems with your classmates, and in this way make the learning process more enjoyable. However, the homework you hand in must be your own work, in your own words and your own explanation.
  • Here is the link to The Code of Student Conduct.
  • Writing:
    Written communication is an important skill for all students (see Edward Tufte’s Challenger Disaster discussion if you doubt this), and will be emphasized in this course through the homework assignments. There are resources available to help you with your writing skills at the Writing Tutorial Services, northwest corner on the first floor of the Information Commons in the Wells Library (More Information:
  • Identity:
    We foster an inclusive classroom environment that is respectful of all students. Class rosters are provided to the instructors with the student's legal name. We will gladly honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise us of this preference as soon as possible so that we can make appropriate changes to our records.