Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)

At the start of the quarter:

Q: Should I be in CSE 373? Am I prepared to do well in the course?

A: CSE 373 is a data structures and algorithms course for non-CSE majors. If you are in the CSE major or intend to major in CSE in the future, you probably should not be taking CSE 373, because it duplicates another course named CSE 332 which is for CSE majors. (But some students take CSE 373 as a way of earning a high CSE grade to show that they should be admitted to the CSE major, but 373 does not earn any progress toward a CSE degree.) CSE 373 assumes that you have taken CSE 143 or equivalent. It assumes basic programming experience in Java, C, or a similar language, as well as rudimentary knowledge of data structures. We expect you to be generally familiar with concepts such as:

  • variables
  • parameters
  • loops
  • if/else
  • arrays
  • interacting with (using) objects
  • defining classes of objects
  • basic notion of runtime complexity classes and "Big-Oh"
  • searching and sorting algorithms
  • recursion
  • implementing data structures using arrays or linked nodes
  • recursive data structure implementation, e.g. binary trees

If you aren't sure you have enough programming experience, look at past quarters' CSE 373 web sites. Do you understand their material? If so, you should be okay in CSE 373. If you're still not sure, you can email further questions to the instructor or contact our helpful academic advisors at

Q: The course (or the section I want) appears to be full. How do I add CSE 373 to my schedule? How do I change sections? Can you give me an add code? Can you add me to the waiting list?

A: Contact our course administrator, Pim Lustig (, for all registration issues such as adding the course or changing sections. He will be happy to help you.

Q: Can I audit the course? Can I just attend the lectures without being enrolled?

A: The CSE 373 class is very full. You can try to attend, but the room literally may not have any empty seats, especially during the first week or two. If you are trying to "sit in" on the class, auditors should not to take up a chair unless the lecture has begun and there are still seats available. But otherwise if you have received the instructor's permission, it is fine if you want to come to the class as long as you do not take a seat needed by an enrolled student.

During the quarter:

Q: I need help with my homework! What should I do?

A: There are lots of resources available to help you. For example:

  • Check the message forum; your question may have been answered there, or you can post your question.
  • Look at the in-class lecture examples and slides.
  • Look at this week's section handout problems and their solutions.
  • Try solving some smaller problems first to understand the relevant concepts, such as the ones at the ends of the textbook chapters or lecture slides.
  • Start early! We get swamped the day assignments are due.
  • Go to see the TAs and/or instructor during their office hours. If they don't have any or you cannot attend, try emailing them.
  • Don't panic. You have late days, and even if you run out, the penalty for lateness is relatively small.

Q: The IPL and other resources are not enough! I need more help, such as a personal tutor. Can I get this kind of help?

A: We in CSE do not provide individual private tutoring; there are too many students and not enough resources. We also feel that you must demonstrate your own ability and not be walked through substantial parts of the course by a private tutor. Some departments may offer additional help resources to their students. You may want to ask an advisor in your department.

There are some other services on campus do provide limited individual tutoring to certain students. You may want to check out links such as the following:

Q: I have a scheduling conflict and need to miss a lecture or section on a particular day. Is this okay? How can I find out what I missed?

A: Lecture attendance is optional, so you may miss a lecture without penalty (so long as no exam takes place on that day). To find out what you missed, look at the Lectures section of the course web site. All slides and program code from lecture will be posted there. Section handouts may be given out only in section, so you'll have to attend if you want a copy.

Q: I got a low score on an assignment and/or exam, and I'm worried about doing poorly in the course. How much impact will my past low score(s) have on my grade? What can I do?

A: You can compute for yourself the impact of your past scores on your grade. The grading weights are listed on the course syllabus.

If you want to raise your grade, the best way is to do well on future assignments and exams. We generally do not offer much extra credit nor any way to directly make up or replace low scores on past assignments or exams.

If you don't think you will be able to raise your grade enough, you may need to consider dropping the course or switching to a Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS) option. See UW's Grading System web page for more information about grades, S/NS, and other options.

Q: When is the last date to drop the course? When is the last date to switch to Satisfactory/Not Satisfactory (S/NS)?

A: This information can be found at the UW Academic Calendar for this year.

Q: I have had a traumatic incident in my life this quarter (death in the family, accident, emotional hardship, etc.) that has made it impossible to do well in this class. What should I do?

A: You may want to look into UW's hardship withdrawal procedure.

After the quarter:

Q: What other CSE classes can I take after CSE 373?

A: See the CSE Course Catalog for descriptions of all our courses. There are several interesting options:

  • CSE 131: Digital Photography
  • CSE 154: Web Programming
  • CSE 374: C, C++, Unix, and other system tools
  • CSE 414: Intro to Database Systems (temporarily listed as CSE 490)
  • CSE 458: Animation (a year-long sequence about learning to produce 3D computer animation; see animation web site for more info)
  • CSE 410: Computer Systems,
    CSE 413: Programming Languages,
    CSE 415: Intro to Artificial Intelligence,
    CSE 417: Algorithms (each is offered ~once per year)

This document and its content are copyright © Marty Stepp, 2013. All rights reserved.
Any redistribution, reproduction, transmission, or storage of part or all of the contents in any form
is prohibited without the author's expressed written permission.