Carnegie Mellon University
Computer-Aided Design

Course Info    
  Fall 2018    

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- Vector Calculus and Linear Algebra (A quick review will be given in lectures.)
- Programming experience in at least one language (C, C++, Java, Python, Fortran, Matlab, etc.)

Learning Resources


There is no single textbook that covers all the topics in this class. Instead, current real-world industry problems are presented one by one, with related literatures assembled from multiple sources: textbooks, conference proceedings, journal papers, video clips, etc., made available through the class webpage. The lectures cover related technical issues, including theories and computational methods, necessary for solving each of the problem sets. 


Problem Sets: 12 problem sets are given to help you better understand the course material.   Problem sets are downloadable from the "Schedule" section.

Computational Assignment: You will be asked to write your own computer programs in C/C++/Java/Matlab/Python.  Computers are available in the MechE Computer Cluster (HH-C101) and other public computer clusters.
Individual Effort
: The solutions to all the problem sets that you hand in should be generated by your individual effort.  It is ok to discuss the approach to problems with other students, but the submitted solutions, programs, and data files and computer codes must be your own work and should not be copied from someone else. 
Academic Integrity & Collaboration: Any act of cheating or plagiarism will be treated in accordance with Carnegie Mellonís Policy on Academic Integrity, which can be found on the web at:  Depending upon the individual violation, students could face penalties ranging from failing the assignment to failing the class.
Late Policy for Problem Sets
:  25% off for one day, 50% off for two days, and no credit afterward.  For example, suppose that the due date is 3:00pm Thursday  afternoon; you will lose 25% by handing it in Friday afternoon and 50% Monday afternoon.
No-penalty Late Days
: Everyone is given four no-penalty late days. You may submit four Problem Sets one-day late with no late penalty, two Problem Sets two-days late, or one Problem Set one-day late and another Problem Set three-days late with no penalty. Just indicate on the cover page how many no-penalty late days you would like to use.  You may NOT use no-penalty late days for the project.

Project:  There will be a group project toward the end of the semester.

Late Policy for Project Reports:  No credit for late Project Reports. 

Hand-in Directory:  Hand in your solutions to the problem sets by the beginning of the class on the due date.  For some problem sets your work should be uploaded to one of the following AFS directories by the same due date and time:
    /afs/ course/24/681/handin-1/your_email_account 
    /afs/ course/24/681/handin-2/your_email_account 
    /afs/ course/24/681/handin-3/your_email_account 
    /afs/ course/24/681/handin-4/your_email_account 

Grade Correction: Please review your graded problem sets and quizzes right after they are returned to you to make sure that there is no error in grading.  If you find a grading error, you must let the instructor or one of the TAs know as soon as possible but no later than a week from the date your graded problem set or quiz is returned. The grade will not be corrected after one week.

Textbook Reading: Reading assignments may be given every week .  Check the schedule section regularly for each week's reading assignment.  

In-Class Assignments: During the lecture time, short (5-10min) in-class assignments will be given.  This allows you to reflect on what has been covered in the recent lectures and reading assignments and to check your understanding of the material.  It also gives the instructor a chance to detect and point out typical mistakes so you will be better prepared for quizzes.  There will be 15 to 25 sets of such in-class assignments throughout the semester.   The class participation credit (10% of the total grade) will be given partly based on how many in-class assignments you submit. 
Note: As long as you submit 20% or more in-class assignments you will get the full attendance credit.  However if you submit only 50% of the in-class assignments you will get only 50% of the attendance credit.  The 20% tolerance is intended to cover all personal needs that may come up during the semester including interviews, illness, laziness, etc. 

Policy on Missed Quiz

A missed quiz counts as zero credit unless you get permission in advance from the instructor.  If you are sick a note from the student health center is required.  A make-up quiz may not be of the same difficulty as the in-class quiz.   The instructor can also give an oral make-up quiz instead. 

Course Policies

Accommodations for students with disabilities: If a student has a disability and requires accommodations, he/she should contact Catherine Getchell, Director of Disability Resources, 412-268-6121,  If a student has an accommodations letter from the Disability Resources office, the instructor will discuss with the student and make sure that accommodations are provided as appropriate.
Statement on student wellness: As a student, you may experience a range of challenges that can interfere with learning, such as strained relationships, increased anxiety, substance use, feeling down, difficulty concentrating and/or lack of motivation. These mental health concerns or stressful events may diminish your academic performance and/or reduce your ability to participate in daily activities. CMU services are available, and treatment does work. You can learn more about confidential mental health services available on campus at:  Support is always available (24/7) from Counseling and Psychological Services: 412-268-2922.. 


Time management is a critical factor to your academic success, as to any professional environment.  Being a 12-unit course, it is expected that each student will devote at least 12 hours a week to: (1) reading assignments, (2) attending lectures, (3) completing problem sets, (4) reviewing lecture materials, and (5) preparing for quizzes.

Your Grade

Your final grade will be determined by an absolute method of grading.   This is to allow you to obtain a grade based on your individual performance without having to compete with others.  It is thus possible for the whole class to get an A grade or in the other case for the whole class to get a C grade.  (Of course we hope that you all will work hard and get an A!)  The final letter grade ranges are:  

A: 100-90%    B: 90-80%   C: 80-70%    D: 70-60%

The evaluation of your work in the course will be based on the following distribution:

24-681 Grading Items Total Points
12 Problem Sets 3% x 12 36%
Project 15% 15%
3 Quizzes 13% + 15% + 11% 39%
Class Participation 10% 10%

The following is the description of the project that you will be working on toward the end of this course.  You will be working in a group with two other students.

  • Schedule

11/2 (Fri) 5:00 PM: One-page proposal due

11/16 (Fri) 5:00 PM: Interim report due

12/4 (Tue) 1pm: Project presentation documents due

12/4 (Tue) and 12/7 (Thu): Project presentations

12/7 (Fri) 5:00 PM: Project final report due

  • The project will count 14% of the total grade.  Please "design" the difficulty and scope of your project so that you will spend the time and effort that you would spend for approximately three Problem Sets.

  • You can choose either a "Survey Project" or a "Programming Project."

    • In a Survey Project, you are asked to find at least 15 technical papers on your topic from conference proceedings and technical journals. Read these papers, summarize problems, categorize previously proposed approaches, discuss the pros and cons of each approach, give discussion and observation. and wrap up with future directions that you think might be promising.

    • In a Programming Project, you are asked to define a problem (just like in a Problem Set), write a code, show the results with several test cases, and wrap up with discussion and observation. Define your programming task so that the difficulty and the coverage of your project is appropriate, that is, approximately three times of programming assignments in Problem Sets.

  • How you proceed:

Step 1: Think about topics related to CAD that you are interested in. Find two other students who share similar interests.

Step 2: Choose the type of your project, Survey Project or Programming Project.

Step 3: Write and hand in a one-page proposal (Due: 11/2 (Fri) 5:00 PM). This is to give the instructor a chance to offer you feedback on your topic if it seems too easy or too tough. (You can later change the description of the proposal with the permission from the instructor.) Include the following items in your proposal.

Group name

Member names

Project Title

Project Type: "Survey" or "Programming"

Mission Statement: Describe the goal and coverage of your project.

Background Information: Explain why your team is interested in this problem. Also give some background, for example, if this is a part of one of the members' senior project, MS project, or Ph.D. project.

Step 4: Work hard for a couple of weeks and submit an interim report as a PowerPoint file, or a PDF file, by 11/16 (Fri) 5:00PM.  Create under your team's hand-in AFS directory and upload the interim report and other files that show the progress of your team's work.  

Step 5: Work on the project presentation files and the final report.  You may submit as many files (stl, wrl, images, and video files) as you like in your project directory. Your presentation and final report should include the following information:

Survey Project: problem summary, classification of previous approaches, discussion of pros and cons of each approach, discussion and observation, and a list of the references. Also hand in one copy of all the reference papers.

Programming Project: problem summary, description of your algorithms, results of some test cases, and discussion and observation. Hand in your source code.  

Step 6: Project Presentation: 12/4 (Tue) and 12/6 (Thu). Each team has 10 minutes to present its project and answer questions. Hand in all of your project presentation files by 12/4 (Tue) 1pm.

Step 7: Submit the final project report by 12/7 (Fri) 5:00PM.

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