Computer Science 252
Problem Solving with Java

Fall 2014, The College of Saint Rose



Dr. James D. Teresco, Albertus Hall 400-2, (518) 485-3755
Electronic mail: terescoj AT (best contact method)
Twitter: @JTeresco_StR_CS
Class URL: [Link]
Class hour: Tuesday, Thursday 9:25-11:05, Albertus Hall 205
Office hours: Monday 2:00-3:30, Tuesday 2:30-4:00, Wednesday 1:30-2:30, by appointment


Everything on this syllabus is subject to change. Changes will be announced in class and updated in the online version of the syllabus.

Course Objectives

CSC 252 is the second course of a 3-course sequence in Java programming. The emphasis of this course will be on the development of intermediate to advanced problem solving and programming skills using Java. We will be using an pedagogical tool called Objectdraw that will allow us to learn these programming skills using some simple graphics and animations.

This course is a prerequisite to most of the courses in the Computer Science department, and successful mastery of the concepts and programming skills is crucial to success in follow-on courses. For this reason, students must earn a grade of C+ or higher in order to progress to other Computer Science courses.

Upon successful completion of CSC 252, CS and IT majors, as well as other students who wish to continue to develop their programming skills, should enroll in CSC 302, Data Structures, which is the prerequisite for most intermediate and upper-level courses.

Our specific learning objectives for CSC 252 include the following:


CSC 202, or equivalent, with a grade of C+ or higher.

The "C+ rule" is in place to ensure that everyone who enrolls in this course has a solid foundation in the basics of programming in general and programming in Java specifically. This course moves much more quickly than CSC 202, so the following topics need to be very well understood before enrolling in this course.

It is strongly recommended that you take CSC 202 instead if you do not feel comfortable with all of the above topics.


The required text for the course is Java: An Eventful Approach (Pearson Prentice Hall, 2006, ISBN 0-13-142415-7) by Bruce, Danyluk, and Murtagh. This is available from the Saint Rose Bookstore (and elsewhere).

Many students in computer science courses find their textbooks difficult to read and digest. Unfortunately, reading a technical document such as a computer science textbook is very different and more challenging than most of the readings you need to do for your other classes. One approach you may wish to try is to read each chapter three times.

  1. On the first pass, quickly go through the chapter looking for the key ideas and the words that appear over and over. Make lists of these words. Mark key passages. However, do not worry about the technical details.
  2. The second pass is the thorough pass. Read the text carefully asking yourself questions. Type every programming example into the programming software and test that it works as advertised. Save these in case you wish to go back to them again. Carefully introduce small errors in the software you have just typed in. See what happens. Does the program run but give wrong answers? Does the program fail to run and give an error message? In this case, can you relate the error you introduced to the message?
  3. The third pass is to go quickly back through the chapter once more to make sure you grasp all the ideas thoroughly.


Everyone is expected to attend class and participate in discussions and to complete in-class exercises. Supplemental readings are listed on the lecture and reading schedule. Of course you are encouraged to do the reading, but all important topics will be covered in class.

The notes used to guide in-class presentations are available as PDF files linked from the lecture and reading schedule. (But you should take your own notes anyway.)

Most lectures will have some time set aside for in-class programming or other exercises.

Some lectures will include a small assignment due at the start of the next class. No late submissions of these "lecture assignments" will be accepted, as they will often be discussed in class on the due date. Some assignments will be graded for correctness, while others will be graded based on whether an honest effort was made.

Be prompt, prepared, and ready to focus on the day's topics. This should go without saying, but this means your phones and other devices not being used exclusively to follow along with class materials and/or to take notes must be powered off. Unfortunately, food or drink cannot be permitted, as we meet in a computer lab.

Labs and Programming Projects

We have the advantage of holding all of our class meetings in a computer lab. This allows a significant fraction of our class time to be used for lab activities. Time will be set aside during class meetings on a regular basis to get you started on lab exercises. It may be possible to complete some labs during the meeting, but most of the time you will need to continue to work on your own and turn them in a few days later. You may develop your programs anywhere (Computers in the labs, your own PC, etc.) but grading will be done using BlueJ on the College of Saint Rose systems unless otherwise specified. It is your responsibility to ensure that your program works on the grading platform. Unless otherwise specified, you are permitted (and are in fact, encouraged) to get help from the Computer Science tutors in the Academic Support Center and from your instructor. You may discuss the labs with your classmates, but the work you submit must be your own (and that of your teammates, for work done in groups).

Your submissions for lab assignments will include several types of items. Different requirements apply to each, as described below. It is important that you adhere to file format and naming requirements to facilitate grading. Submissions that do not meet these requirements will not be accepted.

Lab Questions
The answers to all "lab questions" for a particular lab should be included within a single plain-text or PDF file named labn.txt or labn.pdf, as appropriate, where n is the lab number. The file should start with your name and the lab number. If you use plain text, your file should be appropriately line-wrapped for easy reading in a window or on a printed page with a width of 80 characters.

Note: for lab questions that ask you to draw a memory diagram, you have a few options. You may attempt to represent the memory with plain text, but that is difficult to construct and read. Ideally, you would use a drawing program and submit in your PDF file, but you are also permitted to draw the diagram on paper and submit a scan or photograph, as long as the diagram is legible in that form.

Practice Programs
Your submissions for practice programs are graded primarily on correctness, but you will be required to include your name at the top of the program, and you must use the file name specified. You will normally demonstrate practice programs and submit them electronically, but no printout needs to be submitted.

You are of course encouraged to practice good documentation, formatting, and style for these programs, but the grade will depend only on correctness (and having your name in a properly-named file).

Programming Assignments
These are the most formal submissions and will be graded on design, documentation, style, correctness, and efficiency (where appropriate). A good design will use an appropriate algorithm, data structures, and language constructs to solve the problem. A well-documented program will include a comment at the top of each file that includes your name, the assignment, and a description of the contents of the file. There should also be comments for each constructor or method definition (including a brief description of the method's purpose, its parameters, and return value), each variable or group of related variables, and any section of code whose purpose and/or behavior is not obvious from context or the code itself. Style requirements include appropriate formatting (sufficient and consistent indentation, spacing, and punctuation, wrapping long lines of code), good use of named constants, and meaningful and appropriate names for variables, methods, constants, and parameters. Correctness, of course, requires the expected output be produced for a set of test inputs (which will normally not be provided in advance). Efficiency will be more important in some assignments than others, and requires that the program does not do any unnecessary computation or use any more memory than needed. And, of course, you must use the file name(s) specified. You will normally be required to demonstrate programming assignments, submit your source code electronically, and submit a printout of your program.

Unless otherwise specified, late lab and project work may be turned in with a penalty computed as 1.08h%, where h is the number of hours late. Extensions will only be granted in serious situations. You can find a Java program that prints out a table of the late penalties here. Work turned in after solutions have been made available cannot receive credit.

All lab and project assignments are to be submitted both in hard copy and electronically using the procedure specified on each lab or project handout. Most labs and projects require an in-person demonstration. Please submit written work in portable formats (plain text or PDF). If in doubt about a file format, please check before submitting. Keep a copy of all submissions for yourself. For submissions consisting of more than one file, you will normally be required to submit a single archive (.zip, .7z, and .tar.gz files are acceptable) containing all necessary files.


There will be three exams: two exams during the semester and a final. Exams will tentatively take place on Tuesday, September 30, and Thursday, November 6. The final exam will take place on Thursday, December 11, 10:45 AM-1:15 PM.


Grades for individual assignments and exams are not scaled. Any scaling deemed appropriate will take place at the end of the semester by adjusting the thresholds. The following thresholds may be adjusted downward (thereby raising grades) but will never be adjusted upward.


Lecture Assignments/In-class Exercises 10% A >= 93% A- >= 90%
Lab Exercises/Programs/Projects 40% B+ >= 87% B >= 83% B- >= 80%
Exam 1 15% C+ >= 77% C >= 70%
Exam 2 15% D >= 65%
Final Exam 20% F < 65%

Please note the instructor policy for this course: in order to earn a grade of C+ or better in this course, you must have an average of C+ or better on the examinations, regardless of performance on labs, projects, and other assignments. Further, departmental policy states that students must earn a grade of C+ or higher in order to progress to other Computer Science courses.

College policy forbids changing of course grades after they are submitted except in very specific cases (such as an error in grading of an assignment or in computation of a grade). Any such errors that slip through must be found and rectified quickly after grades are submitted. In rare circumstances, a student request for an incomplete grade may be approved at the discretion of the instructor. Requests must be made one week prior to the end of the semester, and terms of such arrangements must be mutually agreed upon before grades are submitted.


Every college student should be motivated to attend every lecture and lab meeting for all the right reasons (e.g., desire for knowledge, desire to get the most out of every very expensive minute, etc.). As college students, you understand that regular attendance is essential to your ability to master the course material.

Therefore, there is no formal attendance policy. You are expected to attend regularly, and should still see the instructor about any excused absences. An excused absence may be any of the following:

  1. A documented athletic or academic event that conflicts with a class meeting. The required paperwork must be presented in person at least one week prior to the event.
  2. A family emergency.
  3. Personal illness.

While there is no formal penalty for unexecused absences, missing class regularly, frequent tardiness, or being distracted in class (e.g., checking your phone or Facebook) will be considered a sign that you are not taking the course seriously. Common sense suggests and experience validates that students who are frequently absent, late, or inattentive perform poorly on graded work. Do not expect compassion when final grades are assigned or extensive extra help if you do not understand a topic that was covered while you were absent without a valid excuse.

Disability Accomodations

If you are a student with a documented disability and require academic accommodations please register with Lynn Cantwell, the Director of Services for Students with Disabilities, located in the Academic Support Center on the 2nd floor of St. Joseph Hall (campus extension 2335 or 518-337-2335, off campus) for disability verification and for determination of recommended reasonable academic accommodations. After you have made arrangements with that office, please see me to discuss your accommodations. Please remember that timely notice will help avoid a delay in your receipt of accommodations.

Academic Integrity

You are encouraged to discuss the concepts related to course assignments and exams with your classmates. This is an essential part of a healthy academic environment. However, work submitted for grading must be your own (or the combined work of group members, for group assignments). Any unauthorized copying or collaboration is considered a breach of academic integrity and will not be tolerated. Plagiarism, cheating, academic misconduct, or any other submission of another's work as one's own are unacceptable. Students working in groups are each individually responsible for the academic integrity of the entire group project. Academic dishonesty cases are unpleasant and uncomfortable for everyone involved. You are responsible for reading and understanding The College of Saint Rose Policy on Plagiarism and Academic Integrity.

The minimum penalties for a first violation will include failure (0 grade) for the assignment or exam in question and the filing of a Academic Dishonesty Report Form with the Registrar's office. A second violation will result in failure of the course and a second Academic Dishonesty Report Form.

If there is any doubt about the degree of collaboration allowed or the permitted sources for a particular assignment, please ask for clarification before collaborating or consulting the source. Any such collaborations or sources must be cited properly.