You will not be surprised to hear that Introductory Programming is an
introductory class that teaches basic programming. It is a 2-unit
class intended for students with no programming experience (or very
little). The goal is to give incoming students a chance to learn
the programming concepts and skills they will need in other classes.
The language of instruction this semester is MATLAB. The exercises
we will work on are designed to supplement the ICBs and prepare
students for the programming work in those classes.
This class consists of a series of 10 modules; each module includes
reading from the textbook (and other sources), a lab exercise intended
to allow you to practice the ideas in the reading, and some
kind of evaluation, either written or practical.
We will spend some class time going over the reading and working
together on practice exercises. Some class time will also be free for
you to work on the lab exercises and evaluations.
At the end of each module, you will have several opportunities
to pass each evaluation. The class is self-paced in the sense that
you will have some ability to get ahead, or to catch up if you
fall behind. The only limitation is that some in-class activities
are necessarily synchronous.
Most students will take this class P/NR. To pass the class, you
must pass 8 of the 10 modules, or pass 6 and make a good faith
attempt at the other 4. Occasionally, a student may complete a module
but not demonstrate command of the material. In that case I may
ask for additional evidence, usually by oral or practical evaluation.
The easiest way to reach me is by email; I read my mail fairly often,
even in the evening and on weekends. Unfortunately, my email accounts
are constantly hammered by an astounding amount of spam, which means
that I sometimes lose email, either because it gets caught in a spam
filter or because I delete it without recognizing it as legitimate.
So, if an email goes unanswered, please give me another chance. You
are also welcome to call me at x2558 any time, or at home during
normal waking hours.
If I am in my office and my door is open, you are welcome to come
in and talk to me. If I can't meet with you, I will let you know,
and schedule a meeting for later. When I know my schedule for the
semester, I will make it available.
You are encouraged to communicate with the other members of the
class using whatever means you choose, including the class mailing
list. You can join the mailing list (and change your membership
It is appropriate to use this mailing list to discuss anything
pertaining to the class, or to the topic of the class, broadly
defined. For example, I will probably post messages about news
items that pertain to computer science or technology and society.
You are encouraged to work with other students (in and out of this
class) as you develop your understanding of the material. You are
free to work together on lab exercises, but remember that these
exercises are your opportunity to practice the material, so make sure
you are not depending on your partner too much! Most of the
evaluation exercises will be individual efforts, although we might
have some that are collaborative.
As always, your actions in this class are bound by the Honor Code; in
particular, the principle of integrity states, `Each member of the
college community will accept responsibility for and represent
accurately and completely oneself, one's work, and ones actions.''
When you submit course work for evaluation, you are representing that
the work is entirely yours, unless you state otherwise. Representing
someone else's work as your own is a very serious violation of the
The following are the topics we will be covering,
roughly in the order we will be covering them:
- Programming and debugging.
- Formal and natural languages.
- Variables, values and workspaces.
- Functions: calling, defining, parameters, arguments, return values.
- Floating point, relative and absolute error.
- Root finding, Newton's method, fzero.
- Iteration: for loops and while loops.
- Conditional statements.
- Matrices: creating, accessing, modifying.
- Time-based discrete simulation.
- Euler's method, ode45.
- Second order systems. Multidimensional systems.