Fall 2018 — 3.0 Units
2018-08-27 through 2017-12-14
Class time: Tue & Thu, 11:20 — 12:50
Location: Pereira Hall 211
Dept. Admin.: Jacqi Davis
Doolan 101, 310.338.7351
Lab Mgr.: Masao Kitimura
Doolan 104, 310.338.8100

CMSI 185 Syllabus/Course Description Page

Prerequisites: none
Instructor: B.J. Johnson
Office Hours [Doolan 220]: Mon 14:30 — 17:45
Tue 14:45 — 17:45
Wed 14:30 — 16:00
Thu 14:45 — 18:00
Other hours by appointment

[Dedicated to the memory of Professor Phil Dorin, teacher, mentor and friend.]

Course Description from the Latest University Bulletin

"Introduction to algorithms and computer programming using Java, JavaScript, or Python."

Note that we'll be using JavaScript and Python [Java, not so much…], but the course will also provide general information about, and some examples from, many other programming languages.


There are no academic prerequisites for this course. No previous programming experience is needed or expected. If you do have some experience, it may help, but you might find that you need to be willing to un-learn some potentially bad habits.

Note that the course description above is not very specific.... there is more detail below!

Programming, like anything else, takes practice. You should be willing to make mistakes, to learn how to fix them, and to learn not to be afraid of them. Humans (and now even computers!) learn by making mistakes, and this is the place to do so without fear.

Course Goals and Objectives

The goal of this course is to learn the basics of computer programming and software application construction. Students learn how to create working computer programs, how to think critically, and how to appreciate the difference between well-crafted programs and what is known (in the software industry) as schlock. Students learn to view computer programming as an art form as well as a lucrative profession. The topics covered include (but are not limited to):

When you finish the course, you will be able to:

Some things we will study and do during this class:

What You'll Need for Success

In a nutshell, here's what you'll need to do to be successful in this course. YOU promise to:

…and *I* promise to:

Expected Workload

In addition to the time spent in two class meetings per week, students will be responsible for about six hours per week of academic work outside of the classroom. This work will consist of programming homework, watching some videos about programming and related computer science topics, reading/study of textbook material, and experimentation with JavaScript and Python programming, and the web-page topics discussed in class. Homework assignments are performed in pairs as described below. The intent of this course is to provide the necessary practice required to begin to master the subjects and topics covered.

Textbook and Resources

There are two required textbooks for this course:


The first book is NOT available from the LMU Bookstore. However, it IS available at many fine retail outlets, both online and brick-and-mortar. The book provides a large amount of information, using the JavaScript programming language, and presents a very complete introduction to many of the core concepts of computer programming. However, we will also be using Python in class for examples and to see comparisons of language syntax. Rather than make you buy TWO books, the Python book will be made available to you in soft copy for you to read only [not for downloading].

Although we won't be covering either entire book for this class, we will be using them as primary resources. There will be assigned readings from both texts, and the homework problems will also be assigned from these books.

There is also a large number of other resources which can be used to "mine the gold" for related information about computer science. The topic is a very broad field, touching almost every aspect of modern life. Any google search on computer sciencewill turn up at least 1.46 million links. Many of these will be shared during class, and you will be required to find some information about specific topics on your own. You may even be required to use the LMU library, so be prepared!

General Course Topics Outline

A list of topics that are covered, and the approximate order and time frame in which they will be discussed, is available on the class notes page for this site.

Reading Assignments

Chapter readings from the text book and the dates these readings should be complete are listed below. Note that you should have read the chapter material prior to the date listed, and you should be ready to discuss the text, ask questions about the concepts, and begin working with some of the implementations of the concepts in class. It is also a good idea to at least read (or preferably try) the exercises at the end of each chapter:

  1. Chapters one and two, pp. 1 — 53: Thursday of Week 01 [this week] [Introductory Material]
  2. Chapter three, pp. 55 — 98: Tuesday of Week 03 [Data Types]
  3. Chapter four, pp. 99 — 146: Tuesday of Week 05 [Statements, Conditionals, Iteration]
  4. Chapter five, pp. 147 — 196: Thursday of Week 07 [All About Functions]
  5. Chapter six, pp. 197 — 272: Tuesday of Week 10 [Events and Event-driven Programming]
  6. Chapter seven, pp. 273 — 357: Tuesday of Week 12 [Software Construction]

Homework Assignments

All written homework assignments are due at the beginning of the class on the date they are due. Deviation from this process requires prior consent of the instructor. I left my homework at homeis not a valid reason for late work. This is college, and you can be responsible for remembering what you need to remember. Every effort is made to ensure assignments, required deliverables, and due dates are prominently posted on these pages; it is your responsibility to make sure you know what is due and when it is due.

You may certainly turn assignments in late; I will happily accept them, but they will be reduced in grade by one letter for each day they are late. Daymeans day, not workdayor class day; an A+homework due on Thursday which is not turned in until the following Tuesday will unfortunately only earn a failing grade, unless some prior arrangements are made with the instructor due to illness or some major schedule conflict. However, if you want to turn something in late, I'll still provide feedback even for assignments which have no chance of any credit; I keep this policy to allow you to get the learning benefit of the assignment even if you don't get a grade for it. My philosophy is that it is important for the students to know the material, even if an assignment doesn't get the best marks.

All assignments must be printed on a printer — FAILURE TO DO SO WILL COST YOU A LETTER GRADE. All assignments must use proper American English and/or JavaScript Language spelling and grammar. FAILURE TO DO SO WILL COST YOU POINTS ON YOUR HOMEWORK TOTAL SCORE, so get a spell-checker and a grammar checker, or find a friend who is proficient at these tasks to proofread your work before it is submitted.

Other than these simple rules, there are no requirements for formatting, fonts, colors, diagrams, or anything else with respect to your homework assignments, other than good code craftsperson-ship.

There will be four homework assignments during the semester, due on the dates shown in the list below. Each assignment will contain eight to ten written problems, and some reading and other information/activities such as web sites to browse, articles to read (and possibly write about), or videos to watch. Each of these assignments is detailed on a separate web page; they are available by using the links in the list. Solutions will be provided after the assignments are handed in.

  1. Homework #1 — Due date 2017-09-13 – [Thurs. of week 03]
  2. Homework #2 — Due date 2017-10-18 – [Thurs. of week 08]
  3. Homework #3 — Due date 2017-11-15 – [Thurs. of week 12]
  4. Homework #4 — Due date 2017-11-29 – [Thurs. of week 14]

In addition to these homework sets, there is a web page containing (an ever-increasing list of) practice problems which are designed to help you get a good handle on developing web pages and JavaScript code. The descriptions tell you what is required to solve the problemwithout telling you exactly how to solve it. Thus, you need to work out which of the concepts we've studied during the semester will (or should) apply to the solution, then implement the solution. Remember there are often many ways to solve a problem, and there is not always one rightanswer! The problems are located here.

Exams, Quizzes, and Projects

There will be two tests during the semester. The first is scheduled for Thursday 2016-09-27 [week 05], and the second is scheduled for Thursday 2016-11-01 [week 10]. Note that they are interspersed with the homework assignments, such that there is something due approximately every second or third Thursday. There will not be any homework assignment due on a test date.

There will be a final exam, which will be scheduled per the university's official exam schedule. At this writing, the final is scheduled for 11:00 on Tuesday of finals week. It would be a good idea to double-check this date and time as the semester end approaches, although it rarely changes. The schedule is available here. The final is a cumulativefinal, which covers everything for the entire semester.

Missed quizzes or tests: it is the responsibility of the student to provide an adequate advance notice to the professor if a scheduled quiz, test, or homework assignment is going to be missed. If you have a conflict in schedule which will cause a missed exam, please notify the professor at least two days in advance to avoid a failing grade. Prior arrangements must be made in order for a make-up exam to be taken, since this requires the professor to create a second copy of the test.

Use of Technology

You will need access to a computer of some variety. It doesn't matter whether it is a Windows, Mac, Linux, SmartPhone, tablet/iPad, or other machine, as long as it has a browser and some sort of text-only editing facility. [Don't worry if you don't know what that is, it will be explained on the first day of class.] You will also need access to the internet.

If you don't have a computer available, or if you just don't want to carry it around, there are plenty of computers of all types in the Keck Lab, Doolan 112. All of the Keck Lab computers have internet access, text editors, and browsers. They also have word processors and are connected to both B&W and color laser printers.

Attendance and Participation

Although attendance is not mandatory, it is in your own best interest to attend every class. Much of the material will be discussed in class, so counting on the book for all information which appears on tests will not provide you with complete information. In addition, there will be coding done during class time, and in-class exercises in small groups which you will miss out on if you are not there.

Obviously, if you skip too many classes, you will likely fail; this is a simple and self-fulfilling prophecy.

The class participation rubric appears with the grading stuff in the tables below.

Extra Credit

There will be no extra credit given in this course.


Grades for the course are assigned according to the weighting factors shown in the tables below.

Final letter grades will be assigned based on the following scale:

PercentLetterRating and Achievement
91-93 / 94-97 / 98-100% A- / A / A+ Professional work; outstanding
81-83 / 84-87 / 88-90% B- / B / B+ Entry level work; above average, shows extra effort and interest
71-73 / 74-77 / 78-80% C- / C / C+ Satisfactory work; expected with reasonable effort
61 - 70% D Substandard work; minimal effort shown
60 or less F Thank you for playing; see you next semester

Evaluation ItemWeight
Homework (total) 20%
Test #1 20%
Test #2 20%
Final Exam 30%
Class Participation10%

Class Participation CriteriaValue
Absent *without* prior notification/agreement of professor0
Absent *with* prior consent/agreement of instructor1
Demonstrates adequate preparation.
Knows basic reading facts, but does not show evidence of trying to interpret or analyze them; demonstrates sporadic class involvement.
Demonstrates excellent preparation to readings and other material.
Offers analysis, synthesis, and evaluation; puts together pieces of the discussion to develop new approaches that take the class further.

New for Fall 2016: Minimum Grade Requirement for LMU Core Curriculum Courses

Effective Fall 2016: To satisfy a Core requirement (other than a flag requirement), a course must be completed with a grade of C- or better. To satisfy a flag requirement, a course must be completed with a grade of D or better. Baccalaureate Degree Requirements, 2016-17 University Bulletin.
Should a student receive a D in a Core Curriculum course, the student will earn the course units, but the Core Curriculum requirement (except for flags) will not be met.
Important to Note: This policy does not affect any grade received prior to Fall 2016. Those grades of D earned in Core Curriculum courses prior to Fall 2016 will remain on record as having met the Core Curriculum requirement. This policy only affects grades awarded in Fall 2016 and beyond.

Also of note…

An incomplete will be granted only when the student requesting the incomplete has completed at least 80% of the coursework, and has at least a B average in the course work completed. This is standard LMU policy.

Leave of Absence/Withdrawal: Please read the revised policy here:
http://bulletin.lmu.edu/… Leave_of_Absence_Withdrawl

All work is evaluated for both technical merit and quality of written and/or oral presentation. Find yourself a good spelling and grammar checker, or a trusted human editor, if you are having any difficulty with the rules of standard English language usage. Another excellent resource is the Academic Resource Center, located on the south side of Daum Hall. The center takes appointments, and also allows drop-in consultation sessions, and they have a number of good benefits. Call (310) 338-2847 to schedule an appointment. [For those that don't know, Daum Hall is the building where the LMU Security and Parking office used to be. ARC is on the second floor.]


In this class, documentation which is not of professional quality is no longer acceptable. Spelling, grammar, and internal document consistency all count and will cost you big-time if not correct! I will not hesitate to knock off a full letter grade on an otherwise perfectly correct assignment if there are egregious and/or numerous spelling/grammar errors. In addition, coding style will play a large part in determining the grade on the code for the homework. It is the job of each student to properly structure, comment, and indent, to select proper names for variables, and to not "hard-code" values.


Academic Honesty and Integrity

Academic dishonesty will be treated as an extremely serious matter with severe consequences that can range from receiving no credit for assignments/tests, failing the class, to expulsion. It is never permissible to turn in any work that has not been authored by the student, such as work that has been copied from another student or copied from a source (including the Internet) without properly acknowledging the source. It is your responsibility to make sure that your work meets the standard set forth in the Academic Honesty Policy (see http://academics.lmu.edu/honesty.)

Cheating on assignments, plagiarism, falsification of data, and other similar or related violations of LMU standards of honesty and integrity ARE NOT TOLERATED. Any student or students who commit such offences will receive a failing grade for that assignment, possibly a failing grade for the course, and conceivably further disciplinary action. It is acceptable to use code from textbooks, friends, coworkers, or other sources, as long as the source of the code is cited/acknowledged in all reports and source file headers.

This does not mean that collaboration is discouraged; in fact, the "pair programming" paradigm is encouraged. However, this does mean that exact duplicates of reviews and write-ups turned in by more than one student as individual work, or uncited copying from the Internet or any other source, will not be allowed. Such a situation will be dealt with in the manner outlined above. In short, if you are responsible for your own work, do your own work.

Repeat: failure to follow this simple guideline will result in a failing grade on that assignment, likely failing grade in the course, and quite possibly further disciplinary action.

Special Accommodations

Students with special needs who require reasonable modifications, special assistance, or accommodations in this course should promptly direct their request to the Disability Support Services (DSS) Office. Any student who currently has a documented disability (ADHD, Autism Spectrum Disorder, Learning, Physical, or Psychiatric) needing academic accommodations should contact the DSS Office (Daum Hall 2nd floor, 310-338-4216) as early in the semester as possible. All discussions will remain confidential. Please visit http://www.lmu.edu/dss for additional information.

Respect For Self And Others

As an LMU Lion, by the Lion's code, you are pledged to join the discourse of the academy with honesty of voice and integrity of scholarship and to show respect for staff, professors, and other students.

The following LMU documents are available to reference:

For more information on this or any other conduct issues, please refer to the Student Codes and Policies section in the Community Standards. The Lion's Code, Student Conduct Code, Honor Code and Process, and information on many other policies are available from that link. You can find any and all other related data from the Office of Student Conduct & Community Responsibility web page. Also check the main Student Affairs Departments Website.

Expectations for Classroom Behavior

Electronic Devices: Without being totalitarian about it, because I forget sometimes myself, I would prefer that you turn off your cell phone ringer during class. Cell phone ring tones and text message tones can become disruptive. If you have a laptop, I don't mind if you want to IM with your friends or surf the Internet during class time, but be aware that will not be accepted as a valid excuse if you are called on and don't know what we're talking about — this could be a contributing factor for a low class participation grade for that day, but it's really up to you to decide. Just please keep the volume off so that you don't disturb others.

I would also like to stress that during exams, you will NOT have access to computers or other devices; this has become a problem in the last couple of years, with students sharing answers during tests via IMing or other modern collaboration technologies.

Emergency Preparedness

To report an emergency or suspicious activity, contact the LMU Department of Public Safety by phone (x222 or 310-338-2893) or at the nearest emergency call box. In the event of an evacuation, follow the evacuation signage throughout the building to the designated safe refuge area where you will receive further instruction from Public Safety or a Building Captain. For more safety information and preparedness tips, visit http://www.lmu.edu/emergency.

Office Hours / Communication / Contact Information

I have office hours during the days when I have classes, Monday through Thursday. The normal hours are listed at the top of this syllabus page. I will make every effort to be available during those hours, and if I cannot for some emergency reason, I'll make sure you all know about it in advance if possible. My office is Doolan 220, on the second floor, and the normal office hours are posted on the small cork bulletin board to the right as you are facing the door. Office hour data is posted there in redundancy to the posted hours on this syllabus page. Brought to you by the Department of Redundancy Department.

Every effort will be made to be availble during these posted hours. If something changes, I will notify you in advance, when possible and as soon as possible, via an e-mail blast.

You can set up appointments at my You Can Book Me site. Just visit the page and click on any available slot (which isn't lined out), then enter your information in the window fields. We will both get a confirmation e-mail, which is my notification that you'll be coming in. Easy, huh!?

I am also always available by e-mail at either of the following addresses:

I check email at both these addresses at least twice a day, usually three times a day. In addition I am frequently on line for google+ chat sessions after 9:00 PM. LMU CS also uses Slack, and there is a fairly active user group on that tool.

YOU SHOULD CHECK YOUR LION EMAIL ADDRESS OF RECORD. I will start by sending all email blasts to everyone's lion.lmu.eduemail addresses. If you specifically provide me with a preferred alternative email to use I will be happy to oblige. I create a distribution list to which I send all general communications, so it is important for me to have an email address which you will check on a regular basis.

Tentative Nature of the Syllabus

If necessary, this syllabus and its contents are subject to revision; students are responsible for keeping up with any changes or modifications, which will be distributed either in class or using the normal (specified) communications channels previously described (usually via e-mail).