....................................................................................................................................................................................................................................... Computer Science 161 - Fall 2018

Computer Science 161.01
Fall 2018


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


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

Office Hours:

MTWR 2:30-4:00 PM


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 28th, Nov 2nd, Nov 30th) 30% (12-12-6)
Final Exam (Saturday Dec 15th at 9:00AM) 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.


Monday Aug 27

Friday Aug 31   Wednesday Sep 5   Wednesday Sep 12
Test 1 Study Guide

Weeks of Sep 24 and Oct 1   Friday Oct 5
Fri Oct 12   Fri Oct 19   Mon Oct 22   Wed and Fri Oct 24-26
Test 2 Study Guide (Download)
  October 31 Practice Problem
Play a game of craps   Simulate MANY games of craps
Wed Nov 7   Mon Nov 12
Test 3 Information

Some Practice Problems for Test 3

JavaScript Worksheet Downloads

Oct 12 Oct 19 Oct 24 Oct 31

List Processing Algorithms

Nov 12 Sequential Search
Nov 14 Binary Search
Selection Sort   Insertion Sort and Bubble Sort


Homework 1 Due Wednesday September 5th
Homework 2 Due Wednesday September 12th
Homework 3 Due Wednesday September 19th
Homework 4 (done in class Sep 19th)
Homework 5 Due Friday October 5th at 9:30AM
Homework 6 Due Wednesday October 10th at 9:30AM
Homework 7 Due Wednesday October 24th at 9:30AM
Homework 8 (DOWNLOAD) Due Wednesday October 31st at 4:00PM
Homework 9 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday November 9th at 4:00PM
Homework 10 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday November 16th at 4:00PM
Homework 11 Due Wednesday November 28th at 9:30AM
Homework 12 (DOWNLOAD) Due Friday December 7th at 9:30AM

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