15-111 Syllabus

Table of Contents

Course Meetings Lectures:

  • Lecture 2: 1:30 - 2:20 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in PH A18B
  • Lecture 3: 2:30 - 3:20 Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays in PH A18B


  • Section C: 8:30 - 9:20 Tuesdays in WeH 5419D
  • Section D: 9:30 - 10:20 Tuesdays in WeH 5419D
  • Section E: 10:30 - 11:20 Tuesdays in WeH 5419D
  • Section F: 12:30 - 1:20 Tuesdays in WeH 5419B (Note: Room B, not D)

Course Description

A continuation of the process of program design and analysis for students with some prior programming experience (functions, loops, and arrays, not necessarily in Java). The course reinforces object-oriented programming techniques in Java and covers data aggregates, data structures (e.g., linked lists, stacks, queues, trees, and graphs), and an introduction to the analysis of algorithms that operate on those data structures. The course, along with 21-127, serves as a prerequisite for 15-211.

NOTE: students who receive a grade of C or less in 15-111 should discuss whether they are adequately prepared for 15-211 with their academic advisor.

NOTE: Consider taking 15-111 if you have some programming background, such as, reading values from a file into an array and then writing methods that, examine the objects stored in it. Otherwise, consider taking 15-100. Students who have completed the old 15-200 are not permitted to register for this course.

-- From the Offical Course Description


A grade of "C" or better in 15-100, or a "C" or better in an equivalent course approved by the CS Department, or a "4 or better" on the AP exam, or permission of instructor.

The prior programming courses should have included the basics of program structure, constants, variables, I/O, program control including simple decisions and loops, and functions or methods including paramter passing. Those with prior programming experience or coursework that does not fit this model should consult an advisor or instuctor to determine if 15-100 is a better alternative.

Textbook (Optional)

None required as copious resources exist on the Web. But, see instructor if you'd like recommendations.

Web site

The course website is http://www.andrew.cmu.edu/course/15-111-kesden/, contains a tremendous wealth of resources -- check it often!

Lecture Instructor

Gregory Kesden
8020 Wean Hall
(412) 268-1590
Schedule w/Office Hours

Sometimes I can be found as gkesden@AIM, gkesden@GTalk, gkesden@MSM, or gkesden@yahoo

All of my phone numbers forward to my cell phone. Please feel free to call any time -- I generally turn it of when inconvenient to answer.

Recitation Instructors

  • TBA

Course Assistants

  • TBA
  • Office hours: (in the Wean 5419 cluster)
    • Generally evenings in WeH 5419 -- Details TBA

Course Attendance

Attendance is expected at all classes. You are responsible for everything conveyed during class, even if you are absent. It is suggested that you make friends with your classmates and establish a study group -- these will provide vehicles by which you can discovery the content of any lectures you might miss. In the event that you miss class, you should contact one of these individuals promptly to ask for help.

The course staff is not responsible to help you with material or procedural announcements from which you opted out by electively missing class.

Attendance may be graded in recitations. Please see the section on grading for more information. Certain qualifying individuals may be given permission by their recitation instructor to opt out of recitation. Please see your recitation for more information should you believe that opting out of recitation would be in your best interest.

Need Help?

I can't stress enough that the course staff, the instructors and CAs, are dedicated to providing you the highest possible levels of support: inside of the classroom and outside. Please, if you need help, do ask.

To reach the entire course staff, please email
staff-111@cs. This is a great way to get a fast answer to your questions -- I'll be one of us isn't far from the keyboard.

Additionally, the Introductory Computing Group staffs the 5419 clusters during many hours of the afternoons, evenings, and weekends with highly qualified lab assistants. Although these individuals aren't familiar with the specifics of your homework or lab assignments, they are highly knowledgable about the Java language, programming methodology, and data structures -- please don't hesisitate to drop the clusters and query them for general help in these areas.

Assignments and Grading

  • Exams: 45%: 15% each of three
    These will be individual, in-class written exams. There are most likely to be "closed book, closed notes, closed everything" style exams. They will incorporate programming questions, theory questions, problem solving, the drawing of figures, &c.
  • Uniform Written Exam: 20%
    This exam is being developed by the department and will be administered to all 15-111 sections. The same exam configuration, grading scheme, and course weight will be applied, regardless of the instructor or section.

    This is a traditional paper-and-pencil exam to be administered during the University final exam period.

  • Classwork, homework, &c: 25%
    The bulk of the assignments in this category will likely consist of individual programming-intensive laboratory assignments. But, there will also be some in-class assignments, non-programming homework, collaborative work, and other material as necessary to adapt to the needs of the class.
  • Recitation: 10%
    This grade is the subjective and largely qualitative evaluation of your recitation instructor. Manifest error aside, it is not re-evaluated by the lecture instructor who is not present during recitation.

    Please see your recitation instructor for more detail about this portion of your grade. In the past this grade has been a combination of measured attendance and estimated active participation. But, it can include an evaluation, whether subject or objective, of any activity during recitation.

Grade Corrections

We try to be very, very careful about scoring your work and maintaining your grades. But, we are human and will make mistakes. If you have any questions about grading, please see any member of the course staff.

If possible, s/he will help you "on the spot". But, if s/he want to discuss the issue with other members of the staff, which does occur in many cases, he or she might make a copy of your work and/or ask you to write down or email your concerns. Please don't be alarmed -- this is just to try to ensure correctness and consistency among staffers, as well as prevent miscommunication. If you are asked to provide a copy of the work or feedback in question, or to provide your concerns in writing or email, you are required to do this before your concern can be addressed.

Please keep copies of all of your graded work, electronic submissions, and electronci feedback, until you receive your final course grade and are satisifed that it is correct. Without the original work and the grading information, it is more difficult and time consuming to correct errors.

In general, grading concerns should be addressed within one (1) weeks. In the special case of the final exam, they should be addressed with one (1) year. The course staff, at its discretion, may refuse to reconsider grades outside of this time period.

Should concerns arise outside of these time periods, but during the semester, please do contact any member of the course staff -- we want to be reasonable and will do our best, within our discretion, to help. Should concerns occur after the end of the semester, please contact the instructor. Or, in the unlikley event that he is no longer at the University, on leave, or otherwise inaccessible, contact an administrator in the Computer Science department.

Students do have the right to appeal final course grades. This can be done informally, beginning with the instructor, and then to the student's academic dean and/or the academic dean in the home department. It can also be done formally using the policy outline in the Academic Regulations.


It is suggested that you form study groups as soon as possible. These groups generally work best if there are between three and five people involved, but sometimes pairs or slightly larger groups can work well. Typically the most effective study groups meet once per week for a few hours, or a couple of times each week for a couple of hours each meeting. For study groups to be effective, each member must work indivudally with the material in-between meetings such that s/he has something to contribute as well as questions to drive the discussion.

Unless otherwise specified, all assignments should be completed individually. In other words, it is okay to collaborate in studying the course material, but the "writing on the page" or the "code in the lab", as examples, should be your own "thought product".

If portions of your indididual assignments have been significantly influenced by someone else, you should prominently give them credit for their contribution. Proper attribution is critically important -- and is an absolute defense against charges of "Academic Dishonesty"

Failure to provide proper recognition for the contributions of others towards any graded work may be, at the discretion fo course staff, considered Academic Dishonesty under the applicable University, School, Department, and/or Intro Group policies.

The Academic Regulations are the only authoritative source for information regarding the University police on Academic Dishonesty, and related procedural matters. But, the following is an informal summary:

  • An instructor can charge a student with academic dishonesty and impose a penalty within the course, including an "R" grade.

  • The instructor informs the University of the charge, where it is recorded. If it is a first-offense, the University takes no further action. If it is not, a University committee is convened. For other than first offenses, the Committee, not the instructor determines the penalty, which can include academic actions such as expulsion or suspension, as well as less-severe actions. The student may appear at this hearing, and the instructor might also ask to appear or be asked to appear.

  • Even on a first offense, the instructor can ask the University to convene a Committee as discussed above. This might be done, for example, in the case of a particularly flagrant case, or under atypical cicumstances.

  • The student has the right to appeal an instructors finding of academic dishonesty. Such an appeal is heard by the same Committee as discussed above. In the event that both the student and faculty member request a Committee, the same Committee will hear both.

  • University procedure provides for the appeal of decisions by the Committee.

  • In the event that the instructor charges a student with Academic Dishonesty, it is suggested that the student consider the totality of the circumstances calmly and rationally and seek advice from the instructor -- as well as third parties, such as the student's advisor, academic dean, or a dean of student affairs. It is may not be in the student's best interest to take a rash action, such as attempting to drop the course.

  • Students who are charge with Academic Dishonesty should be aware that there will be no prejudice against them in the course, beyond the penalty directly imposed, as a result of the charge, or of any appeal.

Late Work

You have five (5) "Late Days" for use on assignments this semester. You can use one day on each of five assignments, five days on one assignment, &c. There are no half days -- an assignment 1 second late requires the use of a full late day.

These late days are not "procrastination days". They are instead designed much like "personal days" at work to handle the little things that come up during the semester: short illnesses, injuries, visiting family or friends, a burst of work in other classes, doctors vists, &c.

The use of these days is completely at your discretion -- but, once they are gone, they are gone. That's it. The course staff cannot give you more. Late work is not accepted, other than through the use of "Late Days".

There is, of course, the possibility that exceptions to this policy will arise. We certainly hope that nothing incapactiating will happen to any of you. But, in the event that there is some major life event including major medical issues, emotional problems, family problems, &c, the course staff stands ready to work with you, as appropriate.

But, because these events are major events that likely will affect more than one class, we refer these circumstances to other University officials, typically academic deans, deans of student affairs, and/or assigned academic advisors.

In the event that you need help of this kind, please see a member of the course staff, and advisor dean, or other appropriate University offical. If you contact us, we'll likely begin by contacting your advisor or dean. But, regardless who you contact first, we'll work together with your academic unit and/or student affairs, and (most importanbtly) you, to do the Right Thing. We are, in fact, here to help.

Please also keep in mind that assignments only count as submitted, if submitted as directed. For example, we don't accept assignments via email or on floppy disk, unless we specifically authorize it. Should you fail to submit an assignment as directed, you will need to use late days to submit it.

No Email Attachments

Unless otherwise directed by a member of the course staff, do not send files as attachments via email. For technical reasons, this mode of file transmission is extremely inefficient. Instead, please create a directory within your AFS space, place the file or files into that directory, and give gkesden:staff-100 at least "rl" access. If this doesn't make sense to you -- relax. Just send email to us and ask for instructions for sending us the file(s).

Videotaping, audiotaping, still photography prohibited

This policy applies to audio, still video, moving video, and any other recording with a greater fidelity than natural language, manually scribed notes.

No one, other than an appropriately authorized agent of the University or Gregory M. Kesden, may record or tape any classroom activity without the express written consent of Gregory M. Kesden. Unless expressly granted, the authorization to record does not confer any license for viewing or other use. This written consent must be witnessed and notarized.

If a student believes that he/she is disabled and needs to record or tape classroom activities, he/she should contact the Office of Disability Resources. If deemed appropriate by Gregory M. Kesden, the student will be permitted access, for a limited time, and for the single purpose of the permitted student satisfying the written objectives of this course, to a recording created by the University.

Unless given express written consent via a witnessed and notarized document by Gregory M. Kesden, consent is expressly withheld to maintain recordings covered by this policy, regardless of media or format, and regarldess of whether the recording 1st class, "backup", or "cached", beyond the 15th day following the last day of classes of the semester of the recording.

Unless given express written consent via a witnessed and notarized document by Gregory M. Kesden, anyone permitted to record, or access to recordings, under this policy, has the affirmative duty to take all reasonable precautions to ensure that the recordings are not redistributed in any form or otherwise viewable or accessible to those not expressly authorized by Gregory M. Kesden.

Electronically Mediated Communication -- A.M. Memorial Policy

You are not permitted to engage in any electronically mediated communication during class -- the penalty, even for a first offense, is an "R" in the course. No TXTing. No IMing. No email. No surfing the Web. No net games. No talking on your cell phone. You get the idea: If something is being communicated and anything even vaguely electronic is involved, you flunk. If you are not comfortable with this -- find a different section.

This might seem extreme to you, but it necessary. The ubiquity and pervasiveness of these technologies is threatening the classroom dynamic. Unless it is controlled, it will become cultural -- and the loss to education permanent and tremendous.

Since it is somewhat difficult to prove allegations of this kind from the front of the classroom, the penalty is severe to act as a deterrent. Other instructors, student assistants, staff members, and/or other trusted individuals may be asked to monitor the classroom from various points of observation to aid in the enforcement of this policy and still photographic evidence may be acquired and used to document violations.