For want of a nail, the shoe was lost.
For want of the shoe, the horse was lost.
For want of the horse, the rider was lost.
For want of the rider, the battle was lost.
For want of the battle, the kingdom was lost,
And all for the want of a nail ... 

(Latest Revision -- August 17, 2011)
[08/17/2011: More initial updates]
[07/25/2011: Initial updates]

Course Description
for Computer Programming I: CS 1500

TERM: Fall 2011

The 11:00 Class:
40426 CS 1500 001 Computer Programming I Lec 3.0 MW 11:00-11:50 P-104 
40427 CS 1500 002 Computer Programming I Lab 0.0  F 11:00-11:50 P-103 

The 12:00 Class
40430 CS 1500 005 Computer Programming I Lec 3.0 MW 12:00-12:50 P-101 
40431 CS 1500 006 Computer Programming I Lab 0.0  F 12:00-12:50 P-101 
(Although "Lab" is officially scheduled in the classroom on Fridays, we will actually go to P-288 for most or all labs - and we'll use Monday, Wednesday, or Friday for labs, according to convenience.)

INSTRUCTOR: John Sarraillé, Professor of Computer Science

OFFICE: P-286, Professional Schools Building (aka: Demergasso-Bava Hall), Cal State Stanislaus

OFFICE HOURS: MW 14:00-16:30; or by appointment
(The first day of scheduled office hours is August 22, 2011 and the last is Monday, December 5, 2011.)




The point of the course is to learn to do computer programming. Fundamentally that means you have to acquire: An algorithm is a step-by-step description of how to solve a problem. A couple of examples of algorithms encountered in ordinary life are 1) a recipe for corn bread, or 2) instructions for assembling a bicycle. A computer programmer uses a programming language to write an algorithm that describes how s/he wants a computer to solve a problem. I'll require you to learn some of the C++ programming language, and write some programs with C++.

Here are several sub-goals relating to our main objectives: REQUIRED TEXT:

Savitch: Problem Solving with C++, (7th edition); by Walter Savitch, University of California at San Diego; published by Pearson Addison-Wesley, 2009; ISBN 9780321531346


Peek: Learning the Unix Operating System (5th edition); by Jerry Peek, Grace Todino-Gonguet and John Strang; published by O'Reilly and Associates, 2001; ISBN 9780596002619


We will cover chapters 1-7 in Savitch.

See the online class schedule for a complete list of weekly reading assignments. (The URL is:


This class will be C++ oriented. You'll learn C++. You'll do all your programming labs and assignments in C++.


For technical reasons, students in this class are required to sign up separately for a lecture section and a lab section of CS 1500. In fact, each class session is a mixture of lab and lecture. Each day we do whatever we need to do: lab, lecture, or some of both. Sometimes we will meet in the CS department laboratory (P-288). In a given week, possibly we'll spend one class hour in the lab and two in the lecture room. Many variations are possible, so check the online class schedule frequently.

My expectation is that everyone will attend all the classes and keep current with everything that is happening in class. I will keep track of attendance.


Your course grade depends on three components: laboratory, solo programming, and examination.

The laboratory component consists of work you do with a lab partner in the CS lab. You run commands, run applications, and write small programs. To show that you did the work properly, you turn in such things as listings of source code, scripts showing your work sessions, and/or listings of command outputs. (The specific requirements vary with the different lab assignments.) Your score on the laboratory component of the course will be the average of your scores on the individual labs.

The solo programming component consists of programs that you design, write, and test all by yourself. Your score on the solo programming component of the course will be the average of your scores on the individual solo programs.

The examination component consists of several quizzes and an optional comprehensive final examination. Each quiz and exam will cover topics from lab, reading assignments, programming assignments, and lecture. Your score on the examination component of the course will be the maximum of
  1. the average of your quiz scores, and
  2. your score on the final examination.
To pass CS 1500 you must: If you meet all the criteria above, your course grade will be derived from the weighted average score of your course components. If the average is 91-100 you will receive an 'A' in the course; 81-90 earns a 'B'; 71-80 gets a 'C'; and 61-70 is a 'D'.

You don't have to take the final examination. You can take it if you want to try to raise your score on the examination component.

There will be no make-up quizzes.


Please feel free to seek my help in office hours, lab, or lecture if you are having difficulty making progress on any programming problem. You are entitled to this service. Students need this kind of help from time to time, so please have the wisdom to use it when you need it. Also please get started early on assignments and come early for the help you need. I'll listen and do what I reasonably can to help.

Experience has shown that when students submit late assignments and professors tolerate it, chaos sets in very rapidly.

You will be penalized 10% per calendar day* for a late solo programming assignment up to a limit of 6 days, or up until such time that I show a solution to the class, whichever comes first. Beyond that limit your submission will not be accepted, and unfortunately that will mean that you do not pass CS 1500 this term.

* Every day is a calendar day -- including weekend days and holidays.

We can discuss due dates in class and I may be willing to move a due date back (for the whole class) if doing so can be justified to my satisfaction. If you are uncomfortable with a scheduled due date, please bring this to my attention as soon as possible, and not at the last minute. (It's usually a good idea for class members to try to work out some consensus before bringing the subject up with me.)

If you are not finished with an assignment on the due date, turn in what you have done on the due date, and write me an e-mail explaining that you are turning in an assigment that you have not yet completed. After that, try your utmost to finish it before the end of the six-day penalty period. If you can't finish by then, do turn in what you have done before the end of the six-day limit. (Depending on the quality of the work and the circumstances, it may be possible to get up to about half credit for a partially-completed solo programming assignment.)


If you think you are going to be unable to take a test or turn in an assignment on time due to extraordinary circumstances beyond your control, then let me know at the very earliest time possible. I'll try to make some fair arrangement with you.


I hope to be accessible, helpful, and responsive to your needs during this course. I hope you get what you want out of it.

To optimize your likelihood of success, I think you should participate fully in the course: Attend all the classes. Listen closely and take notes. Finish assignments on time. Review your notes before class. Try to reply to questions or remarks addressed to you. Ask questions. When you are not getting anywhere on some problem, and it's not the kind of thing you can get resolved in class, seek my help during office hours.


Feel free to discuss anything about the lab assignments with your lab partner or anyone else. Feel free to give or accept any kind of help on these assignments, including the sharing of actual C++ code. (Of course, you are likely to learn more if you try to do what you can on your own.)

You must treat the solo programming assignments in a very different manner. You must not "share code" - meaning: It is OK to discuss your solo assignments. For example, students may get together and make sure they all understand what the progam is supposed to do. It's also OK to discuss the relative merits of various general approaches to designing the program. As I said above, however, it is not OK to share code,

In your solution code for a solo program, you are permitted to use segments of code or algorithms that you find in:
  1. any printed material available for student check-out in our library,
  2. our course texts, or
  3. any programming textbooks to which you have access.
You are permitted to share material of type 1-3 above with other members of this class.

You may ask me for help and hints on solo assignments. I prefer that you ask questions in class, so that everyone has a chance to benefit from the discussion.

During quizzes and exams, you are allowed to come forward and ask me to clarify the meaning of a test question. It will be up to me to decide how to answer, or whether to answer at all. I will tell the members of the class any new information that arises from such an exchange. Aside from that, you must write quizzes and exams without help from other people and without the help of any written materials that I have not explicitly approved.

I will withhold credit if there is compelling evidence that you did not follow the rules spelled out above.


Many course documents, assignments, supplements, and so on will be made available via the world wide web. To access the on-line CS 1500 materials, you can open the URL

from any web browser on any computer connected to the campus network or Internet.

Also, there is a miscellaneous collection of information of which you may need to make use from time to time. It is located here:

COMPUTER EQUIPMENT -- CS Lab Workstations:

Each of you will need an account that gives you access to Computer Science Department computers. Most or all of these computers have been specially networked so that you get the same environment, including home directory of your personal files, regardless of which computer you log on to.

You will learn much of what you need to know about using the computers during our lab sessions.

The machines are located in the Computer Science Lab: P-288. P-288 is in the Professional Schools Building (also known as Demergasso-Bava Hall, or DBH). P-288 is in the northwest corner of the second floor of the north wing. ( See the map ).

You can develop your programs on whatever computer you like. However, I will test the programs that you write for this course by compiling and executing them on one of the Computer Science Lab workstations. Therefore you must write programs that will compile and run without errors on these machines. There should be no problems if you use the standard C++ programming constructs from your textbook. I'll let you know if I have a problem with your code. Your cooperation will be appreciated (and expected).

Generally, the CS Department workstations are available for access and use on a 24-hour basis. However the campus computer labs do not remain open at all hours. Therefore sometimes network connections will be the only means available for connecting to the CS Department Lab workstations. For more information about network connections, see the section below entitled "INTERNET CONNECTIONS". Also see the document entitled Gaining Access to Workstations in the Computer Science Department Network, which you can access at the following URL:

P-288 will be open basically mid-morning until about 17:00 (5:00 p.m.). During these times, you can be physically present in the CS Department Lab while using a department computer. This can be very beneficial because you then have the opportunity to work and communicate with fellow students and members of the faculty.

Due to budgetary constraints beyond our control, the hours during which P-288 is open are subject to change on short notice. Please check the postings of the lab hours at the entrance to the lab, or in the "message of the day" that is printed on your screen when you log on to your CS computer account, or check on the web.

Incidentally, the CS Department often seeks volunteers and work-study students to help keep the lab open longer hours. For further information, ask our system administrator, Julie Gorman: P-288C, 667-3273,

While you are in the CS Lab, you will be able to access workstations by logging in directly at the console, or by using a remote-login program such as "ssh" from another workstation, or from your laptop computer.

Remote login makes it possible for many people to use a given workstation simultaneously. If you are developing a program on one computer and want to see if it compiles and runs OK on a different computer, you can login to the second computer remotely to do the test. Depending on the circumstances, you may first need to use a file-transfer program (sftp) to place a copy of your program on the remote computer.

We will have a demonstration of how to perform remote login. (You can probably get help just by asking someone in the lab.) You can also access CS workstations via an "ssh" connection from most any computer on the campus local network, such as those in L-145, N-201 and L-210. Generally those labs are open during the same hours that the campus library is open. To get further information about the labs and their hours of operation, try consulting OIT Client Services:

You may also check postings at the labs or ask lab personnel for information. Lab assistants should be able to show you how to do a remote login and/or a file transfer to a CS Department workstation.


You may want to have Internet connectivity installed in your home. This is not a requirement and not necessary for success, but it can be a great time-saver and convenience once you have gotten past the hurdle of setting everything up.

There are several Internet service providers (ISP's) that serve this area. Chances are that members of the class can make good recommendations. We can devote some time to this topic in class.

One can find many ISP's by using the site: ISP's also advertise in the yellow pages and in newspapers.

If you get an Internet connection, make sure you get remote-login and file-transfer software. This will allow you to log in from home to your computer account at the college and also transfer files back and forth. For more information about this, read the remote-login and file-transfer help sheet, which may be found online here:

For additional information, ask me or the CS Lab Administrator, Julie Gorman.