COMP203 Programming and Computer Algebra: Syllabus

Section 002: Monday and Wednesday, 12:20-1:35, Science 230
Instructor: Heidi Burgiel,
Office Hours: Science 453. Monday 2:00-3:00, Wednesday 10:00-11:00, Thursday 11:00-12:00 and by appointment.


The student will solve problems by writing computer programs that include input, output and control structures (sequence, selection, repetition). In addition, the student will learn and use some of the tools of a computer algebra system, and do programming in the system.

The first language used will be Python 3. Two thirds of the way through the semester, we will switch to using the computer algebra package Maple.

Python exam: Wednesday, 10/28/15
Maple exam: Wednesday, 12/9/15 (last day of class)
Python project due: Monday, 11/16/15
Project presentations: Wednesday, 12/16/15 (during finals)

Grades for the course will be recorded in Blackboard and computed on a curve. The final grade will be determined as follows:

Homework: Homework for this course will be collected electronically on Blackboard. This site is new this semester; please be patient.

Activators/Tickets to Leave: Brief (5-15 minute) quizzes will be given daily and used for attendance. Many of these will be ready for you in Blackboard when you arrive in class. Unless informed otherwise you may work with your partner on these. Each student should complete each Activator or Ticket to Leave in his or her own words.

Class Participation: You can't learn programming by watching a professor talk any more than you can learn basketball by watching it on television. We will spend as much time as possible working together in class on programming tasks. In order for this to work well, it's important to do the reading and attempt the homework to prepare yourself for your in-class work.

Also, please be courteous. Turn cell phones off, refrain from discussing subjects other than mathematics, and if you must leave early please notify the instructor in advance. Your attention in lecture will be noted and appreciated.

Group Participation: Modern programming is a group effort. Your Python project will be completed in a group chosen for your common interests. In addition to submitting your project for a grade, you will present it to the class at the end of the semester. For the project and as appropriate, you will be evaluated by your peers based on a rubric.

Materials: All students are expected to have laptop computers. While Python 3 and PyCharm can be freely installed, you must either use the lab computers at BSC or purchase a student version of Maple for your laptop.

Class email will be sent through Blackboard; be sure you check the messages in your associated email account regularly.

Paper and pencil will be useful during class.

Office hours: I will be available in my office during these hours for consultation on a first-come-first-served basis. You do not need an appointment in advance. In addition, many brief matters can be handled directly after class or by email. We can also schedule appointments at other times.

Academic integrity: The Academic Integrity Policy will be enforced in this class.

Students with disabilities: If you have a diagnosed disability which will make it difficult for you to carry out the course work, please contact me during the first two weeks of class to discuss reasonable accomodations.

Math services: Mathematics Services ( provides free tutoring on demand. It is located in the basement of Maxwell Library. If you complete this course with a good grade, you may apply to be a tutor there.