BU CAS CS-350 Fall '02

Preliminary Policies*
Last modified on 09/02/2002

Grading Lectures Sections Homework Help Collaboration Plagiarism


Credit for the course will be split as follows

Activity Percentage
Attendance (in-class quizzes) 10%
Homework 45%
Mid-term 15%
Final exam 30%

Grading (except for the final exam) is done by a number of class graders, under the direct supervision of the Teaching Fellow and the Instructor. If you have an issue with a grade (homework or exam), please contact the Teaching Fellow. If your issue is not resolved, then (and only then) please contact the Instructor. In doing so, please note that (to ensure fairness and grading consistency) it is seldom the case that the Instructor will overrule the Teaching Fellow.


Attending lectures is mandatory and will account for 10% of the final class grade. To take attendance, frequent one-question quizzes (during a randomly selected set of lectures) will be given.

You are responsible for ALL the materials covered in the lectures including any topics not in the textbooks.

Class participation and questions are very welcome during the lectures. There is no such thing as a "stupid question''. Failure to ask a simple question might result in the inability to follow the rest of the lecture.


If you are taking this class then you have signed up for a weekly one-hour discussion session.

The teaching fellow will be leading the discussion sessions. Materials covered in the discussion sessions will be elaborations on materials covered in the lectures. Also, the discussion sessions will be the venue used to answer any questions (or provide clarifications) regarding the homework assignments.

If you miss the discussion section for which you are signed up, then please make sure to attend a later one during the same week if available.


Homework assignments constitute an important part of this course. They are designed to help you understand the materials covered in lectures and in assigned readings. It is only by doing the homework that you really learn the material. There will be approximately 6-8 homework assignments handed out throughout the semester. Homework assignments will NOT be weighted equally. Harder/longer homework assignments will constitute a larger percent of the combined grade for all homeworks.

Most problems on the homework will require only "paper-and-pencil" work. However, some problems may call for minor programming or use of special educational software to write concurrent software. It is possible that one homework assignment will be in the form of a significant programming project.

Homework assignments may be fairly long, each taking an average of 4 to 6 hours to complete, although the time required will vary quite a bit from student to student and assignment to assignment. Always allow more time than you think you will need!

Homework assignments will be made available on the web, and announced during class.

Handing-in homework. Homework assignments are to be handed in using the slotted homework box, labeled ``CS-350 / Drop Box'', in the hall outside of MCS-137 by 3:00 pm on the day they are due. A late homework must be time-stamped by a CS office staff member and left in the Teaching Fellow's mailbox (i.e., NEITHER in the drop box NOR in the instructor's mailbox). Do not hand in your homework in class or during office hours. Do not hand in your homework by slipping them under the office door of the instructor.

Late homework. There will be a hefty penalty of 15% for a homework handed in one class late, and of 30% for a homework handed in one week late. No homework will be accepted if late by more than one week. There will be NO exceptions to this policy, other than for religious holidays and certified medical excuses.

Grading. Graded assignments will be returned in a timely fashion. They will be available for pick-up during section hours. It is the student's responsibility to make sure that the grade they received for each homework is properly recorded by the instructor and/or teaching fellow. This can be done by periodically requesting on-line grade reports. Please check the course's home page for instructions on how to request such reports. Discrepancies will be corrected as long as the student can show the graded homework with the correct grade on it. Thus, make sure to get back your graded assignments.

Lost homework. If you believe that there is a chance that your homework assignment will be lost by the course staff, then here is how you can protect yourself: (1) Make a copy of your homework assignment before handing it in, and (2) have the Computer Science Department office time-stamp your copy of the homework assignment. Claims for lost assignments will be considered only if accompanied by a time-stamped copy of what you handed in. There are no exceptions to this rule.


Attendance quizzes. Random one-question quizzes will be administered throughout the semester. Each of these quizzes will be given at some point during the lecture. Each will consist of a single (easy) question on the material covered in that lecture. The main purpose of these quizzes is to be a measure of attendance, since I expect anybody who attended the class (and was not asleep) to be able to answer the question. Attendance Quizzes will be worth 10% of the final grade. 

Mid-term exam. The mid-term will cover the material presented from the beginning of the semester and up to the last lecture before the exam. Please check the class schedule for time and place.

Final Exam. The final will cover the material offered THROUGHOUT the semester, with emphasis on the second half. Please check the class schedule for time and place.

Policy on Missed Exams. Please mark the exam dates on your calendar; if the dates have to change, you will receive ample notification. There will be no make-up exams, except for medical emergencies. In that respect, I will not accept blue slips from Health Services; you must justify your medical problem with a letter from a doctor, specifying the period of time during which you were unable to attend one of the exams.


Office Hours. You should come to the Instructor and/or Teaching Fellow's office hours with your questions well-thought out. Office hours are not meant to be tutoring sessions; they are meant to answer specific questions about the material covered in the lecture, discussion section, and textbook(s). Questions like "could you repeat your explanation of ..." or "I do not understand section ... of the textbook" should be asked in the lecture and/or discussion sections.

Mailing List Usage. The class mailing list is for you to use as a channel for asking questions and seeking clarifications, whether from the instructor, teaching fellow, or classmates. However, like any broadcast medium, you should be careful not to abuse that list. This means that "one-liners" and "cute" commentaries should be avoided. Also, note that you will be held responsible for any inappropriate emails sent on this list.

Help from classmates, or other people outside the course, is covered by the policy on collaboration below.


There is nothing wrong in principle with discussing the topics covered in the course with your friends and colleagues. However, there are severe consequences to plagiarism. In particular, when you submit a homework with your name on it, you are claiming that the work contained therein is your own. As a simple rule of thumb, to avoid plagiarizing other people's work, please ensure that you

  1. Produce the actual text of your homework submission alone, and,
  2. Credit other people (including the TF or instructor) who may have helped you at the idea stage


In addition to the normal and well-understood strictures against cheating on exams, altering transcripts, etc., there are other varieties of academic misconduct described in the Academic Conduct Code of Boston University which you must be aware of when working on assignments. The most relevant sections (B, F, and I) of the Academic Code for the assignments in this class are as follows:

(*) Most of these policies follow previous instances of the course, taught by Prof. Azer Bestavros and myself, and most of the text here was copied with his permission from his web site for the course.