- Professor: Allen Downey, email@example.com,
Olin Center 359, x2558.
- Class time: Monday, Thursday, 10:00 to 10:50.
- Lab times: Wednesday, two hours during 1-5pm.
- Textbooks: Downey, How to Think Like a Computer Scientist,
plus your choice of another Python book.
- Web page: The class web page is at
http://whiteboard.olin.edu/sd. On campus, it can be
- Class mailing list:
Software Design is an introductory class that teaches basic
programming. It is called `Software Design' because it is based on
the idea that programming is more than just translating a
well-understood solution into code; it is the process of solving a
problem by designing a language for expressing the solution.
This semester, we will be using the Python programming language. In
other semesters, this class is taught using Java. I believe that
Python is an excellent first language for beginning programmers, but
it also offers advanced features that will be exciting for people who
know other languages.
During the first 8 weeks, you will work on series of exercises
covering topics in graphics, animation and graphical user interfaces;
network and concurrent programming, and object-oriented design. During
the next 6 weeks, you will work in small groups on an extended project
that applies software design to an application or problem of
your choice. In previous semesters, projects have included
network applications and games, and tools for creating and
manipulating images and sound.
Regular class meetings and lab times will be used for lectures,
hands-on work and collaborative work, as well as written exercises and
other forms of evaluation.
Students with no programming experience and students with background
comparable to the CS AP should both find this course interesting and
Work in this class will include readings from the textbook and other
sources, weekly programming homeworks, a final project, two
one-hour exams, a final exam, and written quizzes.
The total course load is intended to be 12 hours per week (including
class time); the load should be spread evenly across the semester.
Final grades are determined by a weighted average of
exam scores, quizzes, homeworks, and an additional factor that
reflects my subjective impression of the quality of your work,
your progress and effort, and your contribution to the educational
goals of the class.
- Quizzes: We will have about one quiz per week. The quizzes
are intended to help both you and me figure out how things
are going. They make up a small part of the final grade. Since
there are many quizzes during the year, it is too complicated to
try to schedule alternative dates. Instead, I will drop the lowest
quiz score at the end of the semester.
- Exams: During the first week or so, we will choose dates for
the two midterm exams. Both exams will be given during a regular
class meeting and will take 50 minutes. The final exam will be
given during the final exam period.
If you miss a midterm for an extremely legitimate reason, your final
grade will be based on the other exams. If you miss a midterm without
a legitimate reason, you will receive a zero. If you miss two
midterms or the final for any reason, you cannot pass the class.
- Homeworks: During the first 8 weeks of the class, we will have
weekly homeworks that are meant to give you an opportunity to apply
and practice the material we cover in class. Homeworks are graded
on a coarse scale: check-plus has the numerical value 10/10;
check has the value 8/10; check-minus has the value 6/10.
I believe that these homeworks are most effective if we have an
opportunity to discuss them in class shortly after the due date.
In order to make that possible, I will have to enforce the due
dates with some strictness. Homework that is up to one day late
can get a check or lower; homework that is more than one day
late can get a check-minus or lower. But late is still much better
- Project: During the last 6 weeks of the class, you will be
working on a project. I will provide more information about the
- Competency assessment: I hope that your activities in this
class will help you to develop many of the competencies that Olin
has identified as most important to your college education. The
two competencies that are most central to this class, and which
I will assess, are design and diagnosis. In addition, we will have
one assignment intended to encourage you to think about life-long
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.
Some of the coursework you will do this semester is intended to
help you develop understanding of the material, and some is
intended to allow me to evaluate your understanding. While you
are developing your understanding, you are encouraged to work
with other students, but when you are being evaluated you will
have to work alone (with the exception of the project, which
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:
- Variables, expressions, statements and functions.
- Conditionals, fruitful functions,
encapsulation, generalization. UML state diagrams.
- Iteration, strings, lists; text processing.
- Tuples, dictionaries, textual analysis.
- Files, exceptions, classes, objects. UML object diagrams.
- Classes, functions and methods; data structures.
- Collections of objects, probability and statistics.
- Object-oriented programming, inheritance. UML class diagrams.
- Graphical user interfaces.
- Threads, concurrent programming.
- Remote objects, distributed programming.