PS00: Hello!

Due Fri 4/3 @ 10:45am.

The purpose of this homework assignment is to get you oriented to the resources in our class, and also to give you some preliminary ideas to ponder with regard to data structures. You also have a real problem set, PS01, due the same day. Nevertheless, PS00 does count as a real homework assignment and will be part of your grade.

Part 0: Log In

There are three primary online resources for this class. I wish there were just one unified thing, but there you go.

  1. The course website. Congratulations! You're reading something on it.
  2. The Moodle. Please go to, log in, and select our course. If you're not yet formally signed up for the course, email me so I can add you manually. Once you're on the Moodle page, you should see links to the Syllabus, Schedule, and Piazza, as well as a few other things. All homework assignments that have a hand-in will be submitted through Moodle. Email me if you have trouble logging in.
  3. The Piazza. Please go to and sign up for our course (that's CS 202, Math of CS, Spring 2015). You should have already received an email about this. Piazza is a Q-and-A platform, kind of like a StackExchange just for our class. All out-of-class communication (except anonymous feedback and things that you'd like to keep strictly private and confidential) will happen on Piazza. Again, email me if you have trouble logging in.

    Once you're logged in, click on the “Q & A” tab and look around at the various threads.

    The rest of this assignment involves doing stuff and then writing about it on Piazza. Please look for the posts that I've put up that you are meant to respond to; there's one for each component, and they're all listed by name at the end of this document. There is also a survey you need to fill out.

Part 1: Read

Please read the following items. The last part of this assignment is to respond to them on Piazza, so if you come across anything you have a question about, go ahead and jot it down so you can post it later.

  1. The course syllabus
  2. The course schedule
  3. The homework guidelines
  4. “What It Feels Like To Be Bad At Math”, an essay by Ben Orlin, a high-school math teacher in Oakland, CA.

    This essay has an unfortunate title; it was written more for teachers than for students, so Orlin plays a little fast and loose with his psycho-emotional terminology. He wasn't bad at math; he had some difficulty with one particular topic, and mistook this for a total repudiation of his abilities in general.

    This essay probably describes a feeling familiar to you, if not in math then in some other subject. Anxiety can be really disruptive to your happiness and productivity, but I find that giving it a name and studying it makes it much easier to deal with. If you're facing this feeling in this class, talk to me (or another faculty member) as soon as you can! I'm here to help you learn; that's my job and my passion. I'm not here to crush you, no matter what you might think when you're feeling vulnerable.

  5. At least three of the “Computer Science Connections” pages in our textbook. There's a complete list of them right after the table of contents. They're all really neat, but I particularly recommend these ones:

    • Computing Square Roots, and Not Computing Square Roots
    • Natural Language Processing, Ambiguity, and Truth
    • Short-Circuit Evaluation, Optimization, and Modern Compilers
    • Game Trees, Logic, and Winning Tic-Tac(-Toe)
    • The Cost of Missing Proofs: Some Famous Bugs in CS
    • Triangulation, Computer Graphics, and 3D Surfaces
    • Multitasking, Garbage Collection, and Wall Clocks
    • Error Correction with Reed–Solomon Codes
    • Regular Expressions
    • The Painter's Algorithm and Hiden-Surface Removal
    • Running out of IP addresses, and IPv6
    • Bayesian Modeling and Spam Filtering

    You may not understand absolutely everything in each one of these articles that you read, but you'll probably see some interesting ideas that will be elucidated during the term.

Part 2: Post

Log into our Piazza and post at least one thing. The first-listed post is required; the others are optional.

Part 3: Visit

The final part of the assignment is that you must visit me during my office hours sometime before next Friday, 10 April.