Course Information for Fall 2020
Lab and Project Links
|1||Java and ArrayLists||Monte-Carlo Simulation: Blackjack||7 September 2020|
|2||2D Arrays||Cellular Automata Simulation: Game of Life||14 September 2020|
|3||Stacks||Search Simulation: Sudoku||21 September 2020|
|4||Linked Lists||Agent-based Simulation: Grouping Behaviors||5 October 2020|
|5||Queues||Decision-making Simulation: Checkout Lines||19 October 2020|
|6||Binary Search Trees and Sets||Analysis: Word Frequences||2 November 2020|
|7||Hash Tables||Analysis: Comparing Data Structures||9 November 2020|
|8||Priority Queues: Heaps||Analysis: Word Trends||16 November 2020|
|9||Graphs||Game: Hunt the Wumpus||23 November 2020|
Much of what you learn in this course will come from implementing a core set of data structures and algorithms. Each week in lab you will implement a new data structure, then use that data structure as the basis for the week's project. Each project will involve either simulation or analysis, mostly related to social science topics. As with all core CS courses, the defined part of the project will constitute about 85% of it. You can choose to stop there, or you can extend the project in ways that are interesting to you for additional credit. Each project will have some suggested extensions, but you are always free to choose your own.
A project will always have a coding part and an associated report. Your code should be well-written, well-commented, and efficient. The report gives you a chance to do two things: explain your code/design to others, and explain the results of your project. These are two different skills, both of which are important for any computer scientist or software developer. The first requires you to explain an algorithm or data structure using natural language. This is necessary in order to communicate or explain ideas in a structured manner. The second requires you to examine the results of your code, analyze whether it is working, and explain either the behavior of your simulation or what you discovered in your analysis. Note that the second part also helps you to ensure your code is working properly.
All projects will be graded out of 30 points. The code and quality comments constitute 21 points, the report constitutes 5 points, and you can earn up to an additional 4 points with extensions. A 30/30 project requires perfect code, a clear and well-written report, and meaningful or significant extensions. Note that doing lots of extensions will not make up for a poor report, code with errors, or code without comments.
The faculty and TAs are available to help you, especially with projects. Please follow the 30-minute rule: if you have not made any progress after 30 minutes of honest effort, stop what you are doing and ask a question of a TA or faculty. The point of the projects is not to be frustrated, but to make progress.
Success in the projects results from starting early, attending lecture and lab, making use of the course resources, and asking questions when you get stuck. All projects, except the last one, will be due on Monday evening by midnight. Projects submitted after the specified deadline will be graded without considering extensions. Any project work must be submitted within a week of the deadline to receive any credit. Submit what you have and move on to the next project.
Online Book Library
The Safari online book collection has many textbooks on Java and data structures.
- Java Tutorial for Python Programmers
- Java vs Python comparisons
- Table of differences between Java and Python
Links to free online data structures textbooks:
- A Practical Introduction to Data Structures and Algorithm Analysis, Java version, by Clifford Shaffer
- Introducing Data Structures with Java, by David Cousins
- Data Structures and Algorithms Using Java, by William McAllister
Links to Java online documentation, tutorial, and sample code:
- Java (& Swing) Tutorial
- JDK 1.8 Library API
- Practice problems that can be written and checked for you within the web page --click on the "(parent)" popup menu to choose a problem and then click "Change folder:"
Links to free online Java help:
- CodingBat (a website for practicing writing Java code)
- JavaRanch (a friendly website where you don't get attacked for asking "stupid" questions)
- StackOverflow, cs.stackexchange.com, programmers.stackexchange.com (websites where professionals ask questions -- it is probably best not to post beginner questions here)
Links to free Java development environments: