Course Goals

By the end of this course, you will be able to:

Communication is a key aspect of this course. A proof is not simply correct or incorrect; it is an act of communication to an intended audience. For this reason, the production of clear, convincing, and unambiguous writing is a key aspect of this course.


Grades will be based off homework assignments, section participation, concept checks, a midterm, and a final.


There will be approximately eight week-long homeworks.

Since technical communication is one of the main focuses of the course, we will grade your homework both in accuracy and clarity. More details are included in our grading guidelines.

Homeworks are both a chance for you to improve your understanding and for us to evaluate how well you understand the material. For that reason, although you are encouraged to discuss the problems with one another, you must still write up solutions on your own. More details are included in the collaboration policy.

Midterm Exam

We will have an in-person midterm exam (exact date and time will be announced on the course calendar). The exam will be individual, but you will be allowed a small amount of your own notes with the exam (details will be announced closer to the exam).


We will have an in-person final exam. We are hoping for a combined exam (one exam slot for both sections simultaneously). As a result, it will likely not be at the times shown on UW's final exam schedule. We will announce the date of the main exam as soon as we know it. We will have an alternate exam for students with conflicts (e.g., other exams scheduled at the same time).

Section Participation

This course is designed to introduce concepts in lectures and give you practice with them in sections. As a result, trying the problems associated with each section is extremely important for success in the course.

Each week, TAs will record everyone who came to section and participated. "Particpated" doesn't mean you ever have to get questions correct, or even say something out loud for the whole class. It means you're working on the problems, and talking with those around you.

You are expected to attend the section which you are officially registered for. If you cannot attend your section for a specific week, you may attend another with permission of the section's TAs.

If you cannot attend any section in-person, you may do the section problems on your own and submit them to a TA for credit. More details (including which problems to do) will be released on Ed each week.

There are 10 sections during the quarter. Your section participation grade will be: min(9,number-participated)/9. I.e., you can miss one section without penalty (or doing the replacement problems), but do not get extra credit for participating in more than 9.

Concept Checks

Associated with every lecture will be a "concept check" due the morning of the following lecture. The goal of a concept check is to expose any misunderstandings you might have from lecture and get very quick feedback before we build on the concepts in the following lecture.

As the goal of a concept check is quick feedback, concept checks are graded automatically. On a submitted attempt, correct answers produce an explanation of why the answer is correct. Concept checks can be resubmitted as many times as desired until the deadline (the grade recorded is the final submission).

At the end of the quarter, your concept check grade will be: min(.8*total CC points available, your CC points) / [.8*total CC points available]. I.e., you get full credit by getting 80% of the points available, but do not get extra credit for getting more than 80% of the points.

We will not accept late concept checks; after the deadline, Gradescope shows the correct answers to anyone who has submitted at least one attempt at that concept check.

Extra credit

We will have occasional extra credit problems on homework assignments. These problems are intended to allow students who want to dig deeper into the material and work on more challenging problems.

Extra credit will have minimal effect on your final grades. They are graded separately from the main homework and factored in only after grade cutoffs have already been determined.

Regrade Requests

The course staff is made up of people, that means we sometimes make mistakes! When those mistakes happen in grading, we want to correct them.

Regrade timing

Regrade appeals

Assigning course grades

Your course average will be a combination of your scores on the homeworks and exams. We will weight those categories as follows:

Extra credit is incorporated after we have set the grade breaks according to the weights above. Extra credit has a minimal effect on grades (changing GPAs by 0.1 or less).

Students often wonder whether the class is "curved." For example, whether the median course grade must be some specified value, or if we have a maximum amount of "good" grades we can assign. We do not "curve" in either of these senses. We do, though, look at the performance of students this quarter relative to other quarters (especially where homework problems were similar) to try to keep grades consistent between different quarters (that is that similar levels of understanding of the content would lead to similar grades). This process means that before we have collected all the grades, we don't know exactly where gradebreaks will be.

Grade guarantees

In order to give you a sense of how you are doing during the quarter, we offer the following minimum guarantees. That is, if your course average (calculated as descrbed above) meets these thresholds, we guarantee that you will get a GPA of the grade shown or higher. These guarantees are intended to give you a simple way to interpret how you are doing throughout the quarter; we will still decide at the end of the quarter on exact grade breaks as described above. In the event that exams or homeworks (or both) turn out more difficult than intended, we may make grades higher than indicated here, but we will not make them less generous.

Course Grade GPA guarantee

Late Policy


You will have six late days to use during the quarter for homework assignments. A late day allows you to turn in an assignment up to 24 hours later without penalty. Simply submit late and we will keep track of your usage internally.

Regardless of how many late days you have, you cannot submit an assignment more than 72 hours after it is due without prior permission from course staff.

For example, an assignment due at 11:59 PM on Friday could be turned in at 10 PM on Sunday with no penalty by using two late days. However, you cannot submit at 12:01 AM Tuesday as it would be more than 72 hours.

If you run out of late days, you may still turn in an assignment late, at a penalty of 15% per day (but still may not turn in an assignment after the 72-hour-late-deadline without prior permission from the course staff).


Late days are designed to handle the “normal” difficulties in a quarter (e.g. prioritizing different courses, fundraising for an RSO, a minor cold, or attending a relative’s birthday dinner). If your situation goes beyond those “normal” circumstances, you should contact the course staff as early as you can.

Concept Checks

Concept checks are due at 9AM the day of the next lecture (whether you are in the afternoon or morning lecture). You may not submit concept checks late.

If you have extra late days after all homeworks are turned in, we will convert any remaining late days into a full credit concept check (adding the most points to your total score that we can). You do not need to do anything extra in this process, we will calculate it at the end of the quarter.

Part of the reason for only requiring 80% accuracy on concept checks is as a late policy.

Section participation

You may not use late days on section participation. We drop one section in part to ensure unusual circumstances don't have undue effects on grades.

Academic Integrity

We want to make sure that you fully understand and internalize the approach to the materials. So, we take academic integrity very seriously. We may refer violations of our policies to the Office of Academic Affairs.

Collaboration (with classmates and other people)

You are allowed (and encouraged!) to discuss homework problems with other students. You can discuss the exact problems asked in the homeworks (including brainstorming and solving them together), as long as you:

Note that the individual writeup portion means that your homework submission and your friends will look different! (with the exception of a few problems, especially on HW1, for which people working independently will produce identical responses)

You may ask other people you know (e.g., friends who have already taken 311) for help on concepts and for high-level discussions, but they may not do a problem with you.

Resources Outside of CSE 311

You are strongly encouraged to seek out resources beyond official course resources, with the following caveats:

Artificial Intelligence (Chat-GPT, LLMs, etc.)

You may not utilize artificial intelligence or machine learning systems (e.g., Chat-GPT) on any assignments (including homeworks and concept checks). That means you may not plug the homework problems into these systems (even if you later put the response in your own words), nor can you put a draft submission into the system to use the system for editing purposes.

There are a variety of reasons for this policy

Academic Integrity Sample Scenarios

What happened?Is it a violation?
When searching for general information, you accidentally find the exact question we asked. You tell the staff, and provide a link to what you found. Not a violation!
We’ll say thanks for letting us know and make sure you didn’t plagiarize. There won’t be a penalty but only a warm, fuzzy feeling.
You and a friend separately write up solutions, then compare. Your friend suggests that your conclusion is a little unclear. You formulate a new conclusion on the Zoom call together. Violation!
That is no longer your individual writeup.
You and a friend separately write up solutions, then compare. Your friend suggests changing \(\exists\) to \(\forall\) and switching the name \(x\) to \(p\). You wait 30 minutes, then return to your writeup, decide the changes would be improvements, and incorporate them.Not a violation!
Minor rewordings done by you at another’s suggestion are fine. The writeup is still substantially yours.
You find a textbook with sample solutions to similar problems. You see that they like to introduce variables with “Consider” and use “hence” instead of “because.” You copy these words, because they seem cooler.Not a violation!
Single words or stock phrases are things you can learn from. It is not a violation to emulate style (but “hence” is a little archaic).

Concluding Thoughts

If you are confused as to whether or not some collaboration is allowed, ask us! No set of rules will be completely exhaustive.

If something unexpected happens or you are worried you may have accidentally violated the policy, please tell us! We will not consider any action to be a violation of the academic integrity policy if you tell us about it before turning in the assignment.

Health, Pandemic, Emergency, and Related Policies

While the course of the pandemic has improved, we still are prepared to adapt to health issues (both individual and broadly).

What happens if I get sick?

If what you have is (or might be) COVID, remember to follow the university policies (which include rules on how long to isolate if you contract covid, and some times when masking may be required for you).

We will be recording lectures and posting to panopto so you can keep up/catch back up when you're healthy.

When do we give extra accommodations?

If you think you're in a situation where extra late days or other accommodations might be appropriate, please contact Robbie as soon as possible (by email or private Ed post). Late days are intended to handle "normal" issues during the quarter. In some cases, we offer extra accommodations.

What's happening? What can the course staff do when you contact us
You have a significant illness: lasting 3+ days or likely to last that long (e.g., COVID) Depending on the timing, we might give you some extra late days, give you an extension to turn in an assignment beyond the normal late deadline, or "drop" the assignment for you.
You have an illness that lasts a day-or-two. This situation is what your late days are for! We don't give extra late days in this situation, even if your illness hits at an inopportune time.
You have a planned family responsibility that's going to take up a substantial amount of time for the two days right before a deadline This situation is what your late days are for! We don't give extra late days in this situation, even if your family responsibility hits at an inopportune time.
You have a family emergency that means you're unexpectedly finding it difficult to work. Depending on the timing and type of emergency you're dealing with, we might give you some extra late days, give you an extension to turn in an assignment beyond the normal late deadline, or "drop" the assignment for you.
You are part of an RSO that is putting on a big event. You'll be focused on that event right around a deadline. This situation is what your late days are for! We don't give extra late days in this situation, even if your illness hits at an inopportune time.
Your WiFi cuts out at 11:56 PM as you're uploading to gradescope. You upload goes through, but at 12:03 AM. We don't give extra late days; we do have a (secret) grace period when we count late days. That grace period will mean a few minutes to reset your router won't lead to using an extra late day. We will not tell you exactly how long it is though, because we don't want you to treat the end of the grace period as "the real deadline" and then have your router need a reboot.
You have (or think you might have) a disability or condition that makes meeting deadlines or taking exams difficult. We are happy to implement accommodations assigned by UW DRS. We can only implement accommodations like this when assigned by DRS.
Something is happening that isn't covered here. An email to Robbie or a private post on Ed is a good place to start. We can't list out every possibility, and with 300 students someone is going to have something happen that we didn't write down a rule for.

What if I get sick right before an exam?

Don't come to an exam if you're sick! Contact Robbie once you know you're too sick to attend (before the exam starts), and we'll schedule a makeup exam for when you're ready to return to campus.

If your illness hits for the final, we may utilize other options like remote exams or temporarily giving an incomplete until you're well enough to return and take the exam. We will work with you to decide which accommodation is appropriate to your illness.

What if I'm not sick, but won't be comfortable in a large lecture hall?

Lectures will be recorded; we won't track in-person attendance for lectures.

We expect the final to take place in-person.

We will have some accommodations available for people with significant reasons to not attend the main exam (e.g., a conflict exam for illnesses), but these will be limited.

If you have a health condition (mental or physical) that means you should not be in a large lecture hall, you should contact DRS (see Accomodations above) to investigate accommodations. We recommend contacting them at the beginning of the quarter, as it can take significant time for accommodations to be approved.

What happens if a staff member gets sick?

Depending on who is sick (and how sick they are) we may find a substitute or convert an in-person meeting to zoom. In extreme circumstances, we may cancel a section or office hour, but we do not expect that to be common. Any such changes will be announced via Ed.

If Robbie has an extended illness, we may switch to zoom lectures for a short time.

If unforeseen circumstances arise during the quarter, please do not hesitate to talk to the course staff. The sooner we are made aware, the more options we will have for designing accommodations. You can also send us anonymous feedback with ideas to improve the course.

Nonetheless, one of the main methods of learning is talking to other students in the course! We strongly encourage you to find study groups you can meet with (remotely or otherwise).

Course Tools


Zoom is how meetings that must be virtual will be delivered. That includes at least some office hours throughout the quarter. You can find meeting IDs in a pinned post on the Ed discussion board.

You should go to the sections you are officially enrolled in when possible. If you attend another section, please give that TA a heads up.

Office Hours: You can attend any Office Hours, not just the ones held by the TA who teaches your section. They do get busier closer to deadlines, so it is better to attend them early and throughout the week.

Zoom meetings will be restricted to accounts logged in with email addresses. If you have trouble joining a meeting, make sure you choose the “Sign in with SSO” option.


Ed is our discussion board and the right place to ask any questions about the course.

We will happily answer questions from lecture or about general concepts. We also will answer clarifications about homework (e.g., correcting typos). Students are encouraged to answer each other’s questions on the message board as well.

If you have a question that might reveal your approach or the solution to a homework problem, you must ask the question privately. For accommodations and other private questions, you can ask privately on Ed or email the instructor. Only you and the course staff can see a private question on Ed.


Gradescope is the tool to turn in completed assignments. After grading, you can also find our feedback there and submit regrade requests if needed.

You will get an automatic email with account setup instructions before HW1 is due.


We will not be consistently updating canvas. Information on canvas may be partial or inaccurate for large portions of the quarter, you should not rely on it for this course. We may use canvas's gradebook at the end of the quarter, but we will announce which information should be relied on and when.


If you have, or think you may have, a temporary health condition or permanent disability, contact Disability Resources for Students (DRS) to get started with accommodations. In some prior quarters, DRS has become overwhelmed with new requests and were slow to process them. We strongly recommend reaching out as soon as possible, as we are unable to provide certain accommodations (e.g., extra testing time) except as decided on by DRS.

Washington state law requires that UW develop a policy for accommodation of student absences or significant hardship due to reasons of faith or conscience, or for organized religious activities. The UW policy, including more information about how to request an accommodation, is available at Religious Accommodations Policy. Accommodations must be requested within the first two weeks of this course using the Religious Accommodations Request form.

Your performance in this course should not be affected by circumstances beyond your control. We can still work with you for situations other than the university-wide accommodations. If anything does come up, you should contact the course staff as early as you can.