....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Computer Science 161 - Fall 2017

Computer Science 161.01
Fall 2017


MWF 9:30PM-10:20PM Bagby 111


Professor Tom Valente
Bagby 123 x6210
email: tvalente@hsc.edu

Office Hours:



Foundations Of Computer Science, 2nd Edition by Forouzan and Mosharraf

Course Description:

This is a broad based introduction to computer science, using a hands-on approach to learning. This course has no prerequisites except a willingness to pursue the course objectives.

Computer Science is the study of the kinds of problems that computers can solve and how they actually, in the end, solve them. At the heart of computer science is the notion of algorithm . An algorithm is a careful and thorough step-by-step description (or "recipe") of how to solve a problem. The process of programming a computer begins with the programmer expressing (perhaps informally) an algorithm that will do so. The process continues with the programmer then encoding the algorithm in a programming language such as Java or C++. Remarkably, a computer does not understand nor can it execute instructions written in such languages. Instead, the algorithm is executed by a computer's hardware, the circuits of which understand only 0 and 1 (by detecting either high or low voltage).

The first part of the course will focus on how the computer, at its lowest levels, actually processes information. We'll learn how all information, regardless of its type (textual, numerical, audio, video) is represented in binary. We'll then learn how a computer's circuits can perform fundamental tasks such as adding two numbers or comparing two numbers.

After we've understood enough about the behavior of the computer at is lowest levels, we'll "zoom out" to think about what a person (i.e. programmer) must do in order to have the computer solve a problem. We'll study algorithms, both how to express them and how to understand whether or not an algorithm can produce answers in a reasonable amount of time. We'll do this by investigating algorithms to solve problems such as sorting a list of numbers or searching a list of names for some desired name.

Of course, an algorithm must expressed as a computer program in order for a computer to execute its instructions. Thus, later in the course, we will look at how computer programming languages have evolved to the ones that are in use today. We'll use a modern high-level programming language to learn about both procedural and object-oriented programming, the latter being particularly important in modern programming.

Finally, we'll investigate one of today's hot issues - that of secure communications. We'll study a couple of modern methods for encoding secret messages (an area known as Cryptography). In doing so, we'll understand once and for all that computers DO have limitations, and that this is not necessarily a bad thing!


In-class Tests (3 in class - Sep 22nd, Oct 27th, Nov 20th) 30% (12-12-6)
Final Exam (Thursday Dec 7th at 1:30PM) 25%
Quizzes 10%
Homework 35%
Tests must be taken at the date and time announced, unless you provide a legitimate excuse prior to the time of the test. Quizzes must be taken when given.

JavaScript Worksheet Downloads

Oct 11   Oct 13   Oct 16   Oct 23
Wed Nov 1
Play a game of craps   Simulate MANY games of craps
Some Practice Problems for Test 3

List Processing Algorithms

Nov 6 Sequential Search
Nov 8 Binary Search
Selection Sort   Insertion Sort and Bubble Sort


Monday Aug 21

Friday Aug 25   Friday Sep 1   Wednesday Sep 6
Test 1 Study Guide

Week of Sep 25   Week of Oct 2
Wed Oct 11   Fri Oct 13   Mon Oct 16   Wed and Fri Oct 18-20
Test 2 Study Guide (Download)
Wed Nov 1
Test 3 Information



Homework 1 Due Wednesday August 29th
Homework 2 Due Friday September 8th
Homework 3 Due Wednesday September 13th
Homework 4 (to be done in class during week of Sep 18th)
Homework 5 Due Friday September 29th at 9:30AM
Homework 6 Due Friday October 6th at 9:30AM
Homework 7 Due Monday October 16th at 9:30AM
Homework 8 (DOWNLOAD) Due Wednesday October 25th at 4:00PM
Homework 9 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday November 3rd at 4:00PM
Homework 10 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday November 10th at 4:00PM
Homework 11 Due Friday November 17th at 9:30AM
Homework 12 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday December 1st at 9:30AM
Optional Homework 13 (DOWNLOAD) Due by Final Exam time

Solutions to Recent Homework

Homework 8 (DOWNLOAD)
Homework 9 (DOWNLOAD)
Homework 10 (DOWNLOAD)


An ASCII Table

A Scratchpad for doing basic Javascript programming

Our first day attendance experiment as a Javascript program.

Click here for a simulator that allows us to construct circuits that use the logic operations we learned.

Click here to program the VSC-32 in machine language.

Click here to enter a VSC-32 machine language program in hex.

Assembly Language Programming on the VSC-32

A cipher used by Julius Caesar

A Caesar cipher with no word length clues!

A more general substitution cipher