Syllabus and general information for MC28: Introduction to Computer Science II (Spring 1997)


In MC28 we continue exploring the perspectives and methods of computer science, particularly abstraction. We'll first confront language issues by investigating how one might write and modify a Scheme system in Scheme, a so-called meta-circular evaluator. We'll next consider the notion of computations with changing state by looking ``under the hood'' at computers. We'll extend this notion of state into other areas, such as the use of state to construct more efficient computational processes than otherwise, and the use of object-based and object-oriented programming to model systems of objects with changing state. Finally, at the end of the semester we'll see how object-oriented programming plays out in a second programming language (Java) and take a brief look at its use in writing event-driven and concurrent programs (those that behave in response to user actions and those that do more than one thing at a time).

Office hours

I will be available in my office (OHS 303) on Mondays from 1:30 to 2:20, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 10:30 to 11:20, on Wednesdays from 9:00 to 9:50, and by appointment. You may send me electronic mail at or call me at extension 7466. I'll try to put any temporary updates to my office hours on my web page and any long-term updates on my on-line schedule, so check there if in doubt.

Karl Knight, the other lab instructor, will have office hours on Mondays and Fridays from 11:30 to 12:20, on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9:00 to 9:50, and by appointment. His office is OHS 312, his email address is, and his phone extension is 7479.

World Wide Web

All course handouts will be available through my World Wide Web page, and some supplementary materials such as code to use as a starting point in assignments may be available there as well. The URL for this course is


The normal prerequisite is MC27, but Karl Knight's FT01 from Fall of 1995 or 1996 together with his J-term course from 1996 or Mike Hvidsten's from 1997 is also acceptable.

Text and readings

The primary text for the course will be the manuscript Concrete Abstractions: An Introduction to Computer Science by Max Hailperin, Barbara Kaiser, and Karl Knight. We will use chapters 10-14, which are in a separate ``MC28'' volume at the Book Mark. Please don't buy another copy of the MC27 volume. For the Java part of the course at the end of the semester, I'll use handouts. (There's also an on-line Java Tutorial at, and copies of Arnold and Gosling's The Java Programming Language book and Cornell and Horstmann's Core Java book in the MCS Lab monitors' room, any of which you are welcome to use as a supplement.)


Normally labs will be held on Tuesdays and Thursdays and classes on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, but there are a few exceptions. The first Tuesday, February 11th, will be a class day rather than a lab day. Tuesday, March 11th, will also be a class rather than a lab day. Friday, April 18th, and Monday, May 19th, will be lab days rather than class days. Labs will be held in the OHS 326 lab, using the SGI computers.


The two intra-term exams will be conducted during the evening from 7:00-8:30pm on Thursday, March 13th, and Thursday, April 17th. (There will be no lab on those two days.) Please let me know as soon as possible if you won't be able to take the tests at those times. The final exam will be as scheduled by the registrar; tentatively 3:30 on Saturday, May 24th.


Students are encouraged to discuss the course, including issues raised by the assignments. However, the solutions to assignments should be individual original work unless otherwise specified. If an assignment makes you realize you don't understand the material, ask a fellow student a question designed to improve your understanding, not one designed to get the assignment done. To do otherwise is to cheat yourself out of understanding, as well as to be intolerably dishonorable.

Any substantive contribution to your solution by another person or taken from a publication should be properly acknowledged in writing. Failure to do so is plagiarism and will necessitate disciplinary action.

The same standards regarding plagiarism apply to team projects as to the work of individuals, except that the author is now the entire team rather than an individual. Anything taken from a source outside the team should be be properly cited.

One additional issue that arises from the team authorship of project reports is that all team members must stand behind all reports bearing their names. All team members have quality assurance responsibility for the entire project. If there is irreconcilable disagreement within the team it is necessary to indicate as much in the reports; this can be in the form of a ``minority opinion'' or ``dissenting opinion'' section where appropriate.

Late assignments

All homework and lab assignments are due at the beginning of class on the day indicated. Late assignments will be penalized by one ``grade notch'' (such as A to A- or A- to B+) for each weekday late or fraction thereof. However, no late assignments will be accepted after graded assignments are handed back.

If you are too sick to complete an assignment on time, you will not be penalized. Simply write ``late due to illness'' at the top of the assignment, sign your name and hand it in. Other circumstances will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis.

Grade changes

Please point out any arithmetic or clerical error I make in grading, and I will gladly fix it. You may also request reconsideration if I have been especially unjust.


I will provide you with a letter grade on each homework and lab assignment and on each test, in addition to the mid-term and final grades, so that you may keep track of your performance. As a guideline, the components will contribute in the following proportion to the final grade: However, I reserve the right to subjectively adjust your final grade. Please see me if you have any question how you stand. Class participation is not graded; however, it allows you to find and repair the gaps in your understanding before doing the homework or exam, and thus can dramatically improve your grade.

Style guidelines

All homework and lab reports should be readily readable, and should not presuppose that I already know what you are trying to say. In particular: Be sure your assignments are always stapled together and that your name is always on them.


Please contact me immediately if you have special physical circumstances, e.g. impaired vision, which may affect the accessibility of any course components. I will do my best to facilitate necessary arrangements or resources.


When a reading is indicated as going to a particular page number, it means up to the heading on that page. The same section number on the next class day then indicates to finish the section.

This is my best guess as to the rate at which we will cover material. However, don't be shocked if I have to pass out one or more revised syllabi.
2/1110.3Micro-Scheme (class instead of lab)
2/12More on Micro-Scheme
2/13Lab 1: Extending evaluators
2/1410.4Global definitions: Mini-Scheme

2/1710.5Adding explanatory outputHW 1
2/18Lab 1 (continued)
2/19More on explanatory output
2/20Lab 1 (continued)
2/2111.1-11.2The SLIM architecture

2/2411.3SLIM's instruction set
2/25Lab 1 (concludes)
2/2611.4Iteration in assembly languageLab 1
2/27Lab 2: Assembly language programming

3/311.5Recursion in assembly languageHW 2
3/4Lab 2 (continued)
3/5More on assembly programming
3/6Lab 2 (concludes)
3/711.6Memory in Scheme: vectors

3/10More on vectorsLab 2
3/1112.1Revisiting tree recursion
3/12Review; catch-upHW 3
3/13Test 1, 7:00-8:30pm; no lab

3/17More on memoization
3/18Lab 3: Formatting paragraphs
3/1912.3Dynamic programming
3/20Lab 3 (continued)
3/2112.4More on dynamic programming

3/2413.1Arithmetic expressions revisitedHW 4
3/25Lab 3 (continued)
3/2613.2RA-stacks and rep. invariants
3/27Lab 3 (concludes)

4/7More on RA-stacks and rep. invariantsLab 3
4/8Lab 4: Robots
4/913.3Red-black trees
4/10Lab 4 (continued)
4/11More on red-black treesHW 5

4/15Lab 4 (concludes)
4/16Review; catch-upLab 4
4/17Test 2, 7:00-8:30pm; no lab
4/18Lab 5: Dictionaries (lab instead of class)

4/2114.1-14.2Object-oriented programming
4/22Lab 5 (continued)
4/23More on object-oriented programming
4/24Lab 5 (concludes)
4/2514.3Extensions/variations on compu-duds

4/2814.4-p. 584Implementing object-oriented programmingLab 5
4/29Lab 6: Adventures in the Imaginary Land of Gack
4/3014.4More on implementation of o-o programming
5/1Lab 6 (continued)
5/2Yet more on implementation of o-o programmingHW 6

5/5Programming in Java
5/6Lab 6 (continued)
5/7More on programming in Java
5/8Lab 6 (concludes)
5/9Event-driven GUI programming in Java

5/12More on event-driven GUI programmingLab 6
5/13Lab 7: CompuDuds in Java
5/14Concurrency in Java
5/15Lab 7 (continued)
5/16More on concurrency

5/19Lab 7 (continued) (lab instead of class)HW 7
5/20Lab 7 (concludes)
5/21Review; catch-up; evaluationLab 7

5/24Final exam, 3:30 (tentative)

Course web site:
Instructor: Max Hailperin <>
Other lab instructor: Karl Knight <>