CS 421 Course Requirements and Grading (Fall 2005)

Problem set 1 9/7 - 9/16
Prelim 1 9/22
Problem set 2 9/21 - 9/30
Problem set 3 10/5 - 10/14
Problem set 4 10/19 - 10/28
Prelim 2 11/4 - 11/7
Problem set 5 11/9 - 11/18
Problem set 6 11/21 - 12/2
Final exam 12/15

Course Requirements

Lecture attendance is a course requirement, although attendance is not recorded. The course requirements for CS 421 include six problem sets, two prelims, and a final exam. The problem sets will be part written exercises and part programming. The written exercises will involve design and analysis of algorithms and will require mathematical proofs in many cases. The programming will be in Matlab on either Unix or Windows workstations. Matlab is a high-level language for numerical computation. Prior knowledge of Matlab is not a prerequisite of the course.

The first prelim, scheduled for Thurs., Sep. 22, 7:30 p.m., Upson 207, will be a closed-book 75-minute exam. The second prelim will be a three-day take-home exam scheduled for Friday, Nov. 4 (handed out during Friday's lecture and due in Monday's lecture). The final exam will be at a 9 am on December 15. The final exam is based on Q-exam syllabus, which is a subset of topics covered in lecture.

There will be a late penalty of 10% for problem sets handed in up to 24 hours late. No problem sets will be accepted more than 24 hours late. (For a problem set due on Friday, the deadline for late papers is the end of the following Monday's lecture.)

The exams will cover topics drawn from the lectures and homework, and from the underlying mathematics--you are not responsible for any outside reading.


The problem sets count for 30% of the final grade. The lowest scoring problem set out of the six will be dropped. One of the homeworks may be skipped, in which case this is the one that will be dropped.

The two prelims will each count for 20% of the final grade, and the final will count for 30%.

Grade guarantee: A score of at least 88% guarantees an A- or better in the course. A score of at least 78% guarantees a B- or better. These cutoffs may be lowered at the instructor's discretion but not raised.

Academic integrity

Students are allowed to collaborate on the problem sets to the extent of formulating ideas as a group. Each student is expected to write up the problem set by himself or herself. Students must not hand in homework that represents somebody else's ideas entirely. Students should do the coding for programming questions by themselves---no program code should be shared. No collaboration of any kind is allowed on the take-home prelim.

Students are permitted to consult outside published material for the homework and take-home prelim, although the homework and prelim will be fully based on lecture notes and the textbook. If a student consults a source other than the lecture notes and textbook, he or she must cite the source---failure to cite the source will be considered cheating.

The penalty for cheating will be an F for the course, following a hearing with the instructor as spelled out in the academic integrity manual. In extreme circumstances the instructor will in addition bring the case before the university's academic integrity board.

Stephen A. Vavasis, Computer Science Department, Cornell University, Ithaca, NY 14853, vavasis@cs.cornell.edu

handed out 8/26/05