CSCI 1200 Data Structures
Fall 2012
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  Learning Outcomes
  Grading Criteria

  Optional Textbooks
  Web Resources
  C++ Development
  Misc. Programming Info
  Memory Debugging

Getting Help
  Advice from TAs
  Advice from Students
  2007 Course Review

  Lecture notes
  Lab materials
  Test reviews

Weekly Schedule
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Academic Integrity

  Due Date and Time
  Late Day Policy
  Electronic Submission

Programming Advice from Current & Former TAs

  • Read over the assignment in full before you begin coding.
  • Only code once you have at least a general idea of what your plan of action is, and preferably only once you're sure of your data structures and algorithms.
  • Once you start coding, make sure you compile after every 3 or 4 lines of code you write. This way, if there is a compilation error, you know exactly where it is occurring.
  • When you write a piece of functionality, test it fully before you move on to the next one. Make sure every small piece of code you write does what you want it to, and that way when things aren't working later in your code you can assume the error is not in the functionality you've already written, but rather in something new.
  • When compiling, always look at the first error, fix it, and recompile. Oftentimes the first error causes several more.
  • Learn what the more common errors mean. Nine times out of ten, the same error is caused by the same mistake.
  • Comment the top of every function, because:
    1. commenting is worth points, and
    2. it will help you remember what you were thinking when you wrote that function when you have to edit it.
  • Break code into logical small pieces; this allows easier debugging and code re-use.
  • Learn how to use a debugger and take advantage of this tool.
  • Do not come to Thursday's (due date) office hours, download the assignment in front of the TA, and expect help. Start early, and come to office hours with specific questions.
  • Do not submit code that does not compile. If incomplete, submit code that compiles with limited functionality. (See earlier point about compiling often.)
  • Read over the assignment in full after you have finished coding.
  • Backup of your work before adding functionality or making major changes.
  • Proper formatting will make your code much more readable. Get a design environment that you're comfortable with that formats and colors your code for you.
  • Use the compiler that the submission server uses.
  • Get to know your TAs and Tutors ... they are invaluable resources.
  • When sending email to your TA or professor, be thorough and polite and remember that we receive hundreds of emails each semester from students.

See also Advice from the Fall 2011 Data Structures students

and Review of CSCI-1200 Computer Science II, Fall 2007.

More Information about Homework Grading

Points for programming assignments are awarded for error-free compilation, correct program output, and overall program structure. The program structure grade is an evaluation of the quality of your code. This includes the following:
  • Your code should have a clear, logical organization. Functions should be written as appropriate to break up the program. Don't put all of your code in the main function. In general, each function should easily fit on a single screen.
  • Variable names should be intuitive and meaningful. For example, if you need a variable to represent an employee's salary, use the name salary, not x.
  • Use comments to describe functions and significant sections of code. These don't have to be long and involved. Keep them short and clear.
  • Use a consistent, logical method of indentation to make your program easy to read. For example, code inside a loop or if-else condition should be indented all at the same level (until reaching the inside of a nested loop or nested if-else construct).
  • Don't type lines of text that are too wide to fit the screen. Break statements cleanly across multiple lines as needed.
  • Avoid the use of global variables. Global constants are generally fine.

Use the example code given in class, in lab, and in the textbooks as guidelines. Programs that are unclear and do not compile will earn little or no credit.

Program correctness will be determined by evaluating your program on a series of test data sets. We will make available some but not all of this data, along with sample output, prior to the assignment due date. This will help you judge the quality of your program, but will not guarantee correct results on all data. You will need to ensure this on your own by creating additional test cases.