Grading Policies

Real-world problems are rarely spelled out in precise detail, and part of the challenge is in filling in those details. In this course, however, we will aim to make all problems clear up front. That said, we cannot foresee all mistakes that students might make and write down what the corresponding point deductions would be. Instead, we will choose deductions after reading each solution and seeing close they come to solving the intended problem.

Note that our correctness determination will be based on the intention of the problem. As long as we believe that the intention was clear, we will deduct points from solutions that do not solve the intended problem. We will not listen to legalistic arguments about why poor solutions should be considered correct.

We will not debate the amount of points deducted for mistakes. Those are entirely at the descretion of the course staff.

Grading Guidelines

Legibility is critical

You may lose points for solutions that are not legible. Whenever the grader has to spend a noticeable amount of time trying to determine what your submission actually says, they will deduct points.

You can eliminate that possibility by typsetting your solution. (See below for suggestions on how to do so.)

Clarity is important

One of the goals of CSE 311 is to learn how to express ideas clearly using mathematical formalism. You may lose points for solutions that are unclear.

Note that what is clear is up to the reader. If the reader feels that it was difficult to understand, then it was.

Style is important

Your proofs and explanations should be clear, well-organized, and also concise. That said, it is better to err on the side of including too many details.

Much of this is subjective. Solutions are not simply “right” or “wrong”. An answer that is correct but was hard to follow or overly verbose may lose points.

A picture is not a proof

Pictures and short pieces of pseudo-code can be helpful, but they are not complete answers. Make sure you’ve explained everything clearly in English.


You are not required to type your homework solutions. However, they are required to be legible, and typesetting your solutions will ensure that they are easy to read. If you would like to try typing your solutions, see the typesetting page for advice on how to do so.