Welcome to CSE 390HA, the Honors section for CSE 142!

In this course we'll be exploring the impact technology has on society and being introduced to various facets of computer science that you would not see in CSE 142. Throughout the course our goal is to explore these topics through a mix readings out of the book "Weapons of Math Destruction" and articles, small exploratory homework assignments, and weekly discussions.

Required Book: Weapons of Math Destruction by Cathy O'Neil

Also available in-store at the UW Book Store.

To receive credit for this course: do the readings, complete assigned activities, and attend at least 6 sections (you can miss up to 3). You should participate in the discussions while you are there.

The readings and activities for this class are not meant to take up a lot of time and you are not being tested on your understanding of the material. The exercises are there to get you thinking about computer science, how you can apply it to your own areas of interest, and how it impacts your day to day life.

Please note that we will not be meeting 10/30 (near 142 midterm) and 11/27 (thanksgiving).


Our meetings will be in CSE 403 on Wednesdays from 4:30-5:50.


We have a course Piazza for people to share interesting links to news, articles, opinions or anything else related to topics discussed in class! Please feel free to share anything interesting you find there!

Course Content

Week #11 (12/4) - Getting a Job

Week #9 (11/20) - Career Panel

Homework for next time:

Week #8 (11/13) - Criminal Justice and Fairness

Interesting links

Homework for next time:

Week #7 (11/6) - Machine Learning

Homework for next time:

Week #6 (10/30) - No class!

Good luck on your midterm!

Homework for next time:

Week #5 (10/23) - Online Ads & Privacy

In this section, we discussed online ads and how they impact our privacy. We also talked about how advertisers track you in your day to day life with third-party tracking.

Homework for next time:

None! Study for your midterm!

Week #4 (10/16) - U.S. News Rankings & Mechanism Design

In this section, we discussed the U.S. News College Rankings from Chapter 3 of the book. We talked about many of the specific problems brought up in the chapter, and tried to come up with ways around them. We also looked into one specific area of research in Theory of Computer Science which designs systems to make sure actors behave in some intended way (mechanism design).

Interesting links

Homework for next time:

This should be completed by next Wednesday (10/23) at 12:30 pm

Week #3 (10/9) - Models and WMDs

In this section, we discussed the introductory chapter and the first two chapters of the book. We discussed what models were and we discussed the author's definition of a WMD. We looked into various tools/models we work with every day to spot any potential WMDs there.

Homework for next time:

This should be completed by next Wednesday (10/16) at 12:30 pm

Week #2 (10/2) - Introduction

In this section, we will all meet and get to know each other and have a broad overview of what we want the discussion to look like this quarter

In this section, we discussed the goals of the honors sections

  • To explore the impact of technology and computer science concepts on society
  • To explore computer science and its applications as an academic field
  • To preview what a career as a professional computer programmer or researcher is like
  • To look more indepth at how we apply computational thinking to our daily lives

We emphasized that 142 is about how to program computers while computer science (and computational/algorithmic thinking) is a much large scope than just programming. As a group, we discussed:

  • What computer science even is
  • What computers can and can't do
  • A brief intro to some sub-fields of CS and their potential impacts on society.
Intersting Links

Homework for next time:

  • Fill out this survey with your experiences, interests, and goals for the course
  • Weapons of Math Destruction
    • Buy the book!
    • Read the introduction and Chapters 1 & 2 (can skim the specifics of the housing market crash)
    • Fill out the reading reflection.

Week #1 (09/25) - No Meeting