Informatics 122: Software Design II
Winter 2013
Course Reference

Instructor information

Contacting me: I tend to be much easier to reach via email than any other way, so I would suggest using email to contact me under normal circumstances. When you write me an email, please take a few moments to make sure that the following information is placed somewhere in your message: your name, your student ID#, and which course you're enrolled in (important since I'm teaching more than one this quarter).

Times and places


A lecture meets on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 5:00-6:20pm in DBH 1500. Attendance at every lecture is not required — though, of course, it's storngly recommended — but there will be days on which there are scheduled activities that will require your participation. The schedule of these activities will be announced during the quarter.

Office hours

I will be available on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7:30-9:15pm in ICS 253 — not my office, as it's in a building that will be locked during at least part of that time — during which I'm available to chat with you about whatever's on your mind.


In a field as fast-moving as software, there are few books printed in the mid-1990s that are still relevant reading today. This is one of them, a timeless classic from which I still glean useful information from time to time. You'll notice that the code examples are written in languages that may not be familiar to you (mostly C++, occasionally others such as Smalltalk), but some background in Java will seed the right assumptions and allow you to make sense of them nonetheless, as they rarely rely on esoteric language features unique to one object-oriented language.

This, too, is a book that you may well want to keep beyond the end of the course; I know many professional software engineers (myself included) who have this book on their shelf.

Obtaining additional assistance

Asking questions of course staff

You can most easily get course questions answered by coming to the lecture or office hours and asking them. I am happy to help you in person when I'm available. You can also ask questions by sending email to me; I check my email frequently throughout the day, so you can usually get an answer to course-related questions within a few hours (and often much more quickly). If the questions require a complex or lengthy response, I may ask you to see me in person. As projects approach their due date, particularly on days when projects are due, I begin to receive quite a bit of email all at once, so I may not be able to respond to all messages before the project is due. I'm not ignoring you on purpose, but unfortunately it's not always possible for me to answer questions from a large number of students at once.

Accommodations for disabilities

Any students who feel that they may need an accommodation based on the impact of a disability should contact me privately to discuss these specific needs. Also, contact the Disability Services Center online or by phone at (949) 824-7494 as soon as possible to better ensure that such accommodations, such as alternative test-taking environments or note-taking services, can be arranged for you in a timely way.


Weights of graded artifacts

Your course grade will be determined from the weighted combination of your scores on four or five Assignments and one Final Design Project. The weights of each of these are:

Determining final grades

Course grades will be determined neither on a normal curve nor a straight scale. It is guaranteed that overall scores over 90% will receive an A- or better, scores over 80% will receive a B- or better, and scores over 70% will receive a C or better. However, the actual cutoffs may be lowered at the end of the quarter. In short, it is not my intention to fail half of the students, nor am I planning on giving only 2% of the students A's, but I prefer not to constrain myself with either a straight scale or a formalized curve.

At least some of the work in the course will be done in teams, which is discussed in more detail in the Project Guide. This is not an optional component of the course; all students are required to participate in teams when assigned. Note that not all members of a team are guaranteed to receive the same score on an assignment; an evaluation will be used to determine if uneven score assignments are warranted.

If you're curious about how you're doing in the course, I'm happy to discuss your estimated grade at any time. It's generally best to have this conversation in person, so that we can explore issues other than just the raw numbers; I'm happy to have this conversation at any time that I'm available, and I'm also glad to do it via email if we can't find a mutually available time.

Dropping the course or changing grade option

Through the end of Week 2 (Friday, January 18), you may drop the course by simply going to WebReg and dropping it. If you wish to drop the course after that date, you will need to use the Enrollment Exceptions system to request a drop; the Dean of the Bren School (and your major, if you are majoring in something outside of the Bren School) must approve it. Not doing well in a course is not an accepted reason for dropping it after Week 2, and a drop request filed on those grounds will almost certainly be denied.

Similarly, changing your grade option (to Pass/NotPass or back again) can be done via WebReg through the end of Week 2 (Friday, January 18), after which you must use the Enrollment Exceptions system to request the change. As with exceptional drops, you must receive approval from the appropriate Deans.

Academic honesty

The policy

As Informatics 122 students, you are expected to know and follow the academic honesty policies of both the Bren School of ICS and the University as a whole. Please take a few minutes to read the policies, which can be found at this link.

All of your lab work is expected to be completed solely by you (and your partner, on paired assignments). Worker in larger groups and/or sharing of code between students that are not partners is not permitted. Note that "high-level discussion of course material for better understanding" is permitted and encouraged, but when it comes time to sit down and write code, that is expected to be done by you and you alone. All submissions are compared to one another using an automated plagiarism detection system. This system is extraordinarily good at finding similarities between submissions, even when there are superficial differences. (Note that we also compare your submissions to those submitted during previous quarters whenever one of these assignments was given during a previous quarter, so it is an exceedingly bad idea to turn in, or even refer to, code written by a friend of yours who took the course already.)

Since all of your work is expected to be completed solely by you (and your partner, on paired assignments), you will be held responsible even if you plagiarize only a small portion of someone else's work.

You are not permitted to reuse code that you wrote with a partner or in a team during a previous quarter. You may only reuse code that you wrote on your own, and you may only reuse it for an assignment that does not require teamwork this quarter. (The reason for this rule is simply that I do not want students repeating the course to team up with someone new and deprive them of the opportunity to work on the assignment. Besides, if you're repeating the course, it's generally a good idea to start fresh, to solidify the ideas you missed the first time around.)

Academic honesty is a two-way street. Providing your code to other students for them to turn in as their own is not permitted anymore than turning in someone else's code. Resist the temptation to give code to your friends "for reference." Based on my experience, I can say that your "friends" may very well betray you and turn it in, anyway.

Naturally, the Midterm and Final Exam are also expected to be individual efforts. Dishonest behavior during an exam will not be tolerated.

Violators of academic honesty policies are subject to the penalties described in the Bren School of ICS policy. They are also subject to an immediate course grade of F, and you will not be allowed to drop the course to avoid the grade. Also be aware that a single documented case of academic dishonesty may preclude you from switching into computing majors, registering for computing minors, joining the ICS Honors Program, and graduating from a computing major with honors.

The lesson

Okay, so the moral of the story is that it's wise to avoid cheating. I believe that it's relatively rare that students enter a course with the conscious intent to cheat their way through it; why come to UCI if you're not planning to get something out of the coursework? So why do people cheat every quarter in every course? The answers vary, but here's the easiest way I can boil down the numerous conversations I've had with students caught cheating in my courses over the years: I fell behind and couldn't figure out how to catch up. Things happen and ten-week quarters are unforgiving. You might get sick, you might have issues crop up in your family, you might have an off-campus job that's demanding too much of your time, you might be trying to decide whether you're on the path you want to be on... Any of those things (and many others) can make it hard to keep up. You fall a little behind, you fall a little further behind, and pretty soon the situation seems hopeless. You're under pressure, temptation gets the better of you, and suddenly it seems better to submit someone else's work than to submit nothing. It's not.

If you feel like you're beginning to slip off course or things are getting beyond your control, the best thing to do is to talk to us sooner rather than later. We're here to help; we understand. But the reality of taking large-sized courses at a large-sized institution is that we're not going to know you're in need unless you tell us. If things are happening in your life, tell us; you don't have to be specific if you're not comfortable with it. Before the fact, there's often a way to work things out. After the fact, it's usually too late.