The assessment components and their default weights (percentages and points, where 10 points =
1% of your grade) include:
- Quizzes: 230 points = 23% (23 quizzes of 10 points each).
- Class (Group) Problems: 115 points = 11.5% (23 days, 5 points each).
- Homework (Individual) Problems: 330 points = 33.0% (11 problem sets of 30 points each).
- Midterm Exams: 200 points = 20% (two at 100 points each).
- Final Exam: 125 points = 12.5%.
- Peer Evaluation of Classwork: Extra credit, 77 (66+11) points estimated on average.
There is a total of 1000 points in the regular assessments, plus extra points based on peer
evaluation of classwork. We reserve the right to adjust the total number of points and points
allocated to each category depending on circumstances.
Points, Percents and Letter Grades
A "point" will be worth 0.1% of your grade. For example, an item worth 100 points is 10%
of your grade, and perfect performance is 1000 points. At the end of the semester, we add up all your
points and divide by 10 to get your percentage of points earned, capping it at 100% (it is possible
to earn over 1000 points via peer evaluation).
To determine letter grades, we use a 4-percent spread per grade increment, i.e., 100-97=A+,
96-93=A, 92-89=A-, 88-85=B+, 84-81=B, 80-77=B-, 76-73=C+, 72-69=C, 68-65=C-, 64-61=D+, 60-57=D,
56-53=D-, 52-0=F. If upon inspection of the distribution of grades we feel that too many students
who understand the material are not getting the grades they deserve, we may then make adjustments in
favor of students (especially for those who did well on exams).
- Quizzes (23%, 230 points):
- There will be a quiz at the start of each class (section 1) or before class (section 2) based on
the readings and screencasts. These quizzes will test basic understanding of the chapter on which
the day's topic is based, such as whether you can simulate the operation of the data structure or
algorithms or get the main point of the analyses of their relative merits. Most quizzes will not
involve mathematical analysis or proofs: problems requiring deeper thought will be left for the
classwork and homework problems. Solutions will be given in class immediately after the quizzes are
due, so quizzes cannot be made up. We are expecting 23 quizzes worth 10 points each.
- Class (Group) Problems (11.5%, 115 points):
- All regular classes will include significant time working in small groups on problems that help
expose conceptual issues in the material and prepare you to work on the take-home portion on your
own. Class problems will require much more thought than the problems given on the quizzes. You
turn your work in as a group (a single shared document in Google Docs per group). We will discuss
the solutions in class after your work is turned in. The TA will grade classwork on a 5 point
scale, giving the same grade to everyone in the group. Grading of classwork is based primarily on
evidence (in the Docs) that you made an effort to understand the problems, and secondarily on
correctness of solutions. See also "Peer Evaluation of Class Participation" for points earned for
participating in the group sessions.
- Homework (Individual) Problems (33.0%, 330 points):
- On 11 of the weeks you will have homework problems in which you do more extensive work following
up on the class work. The homework problems will combine the topics of both days of the week (MW
or TTh, depending on which section you are in). You should do the homework problems
individually. Exam questions often are similar to homework problems, so this is your chance to
make sure that you understand concepts and can work problems on your own, not just in a group
context. The work is graded based on 30 points per homework. The TA will grade
homeworks. Solutions will be posted, but won't be discussed in class unless students ask
- Peer Evaluation of Class Participation (estimated 66+11 points, treated as extra credit)
- Each week in which there is a problem set, each individual in the group will assign points
distributed across the other individuals in the group to assess how effectively they collaborated
in the group. You should allocate the points according to how well the others worked as team
members, including their role in team functioning (e.g., keeping the group focused and organized,
or playing another important role), and how much they helped others understand the material (e.g.,
by explaining what they understood), as well as their contributions to the actual problem
solution. Even asking good questions can be a contribution.
Each week you will have 6 points to distribute across all of your peers. You can distribute the points
equally, give them all to one person, or do something in between. For example, if everyone
participated equally, you would give the same number of points to each person; while if there was
one person who did more work and the other who did less you might move a point from the latter to
This is fair under changing group sizes. Suppose everyone allocates points equally. Then:
- If there are 4 people, each gets points from 3 other people, but each is dividing 6
points across 3 people, so each person gets 3*(6/3)=6 points.
- If there are 3 people, each gets points from 2 other people, but each is dividing 6
points across 2 people, so each person gets 2*(6/2)=6 points.
- If there are 2 people, each gets points from 1 other person, so each person gets
Some additional rules:
- You need not allocate all the points available to you (for example, if you feel that
other group members were not helpful).
- You cannot allocate any points to yourself! Points allocated to yourself will not be
- You will allocate these points when you turn in your homework assignment. To encourage
you to do this, you will be given one extra credit point for each assignment in which
you assess your peers. That's where the extra 11 points come from.
- Midterms (20%, 200 points):
- There will be two midterm exams taking one class period each. Problems will be harder than those
on the quizzes, and some may be as hard as those on class and homework problems. Problems will
cover both understanding of the algorithms and how to analyze them. They will cover the most
recent set of lecture topics, but cumulative "review" questions may also be included. Students
will be allowed to bring one page of notes to the exam (details to be described before each
exam). No electronic devices will be allowed. Each midterm is 100 points; there are two for 200
points or 20%. The instructor will grade all midterm exams, with help from the TA if needed.
- Final (12.5%, 125 points):
- The final exam will take place at the time scheduled by the university and will be longer than a
midterm exam. It will cover the final set of lecture topics, but also include review of the entire
semester. It will be different from the midterm exams, emphasizing the ability to apply concepts
from the semester. Since the final is longer and is cumulative as well as covering recent
material, it is weighted more (125 points). We will attempt to schedule both sections to take the
final exam at the same time and place. Grading may be shared between TA and instructor.
In case you were wondering, there are no programming assignments. We used to have
them. They were to 1. implement and do comparative tests of alternative Dictionary ADT
implementations; 2. implement the entire Graph ADT; and 3. design and implement various graph
analysis algorithms using your Graph ADT. While some students said it helped them understand the
algorithms in practice, others said that they spent a huge amount of time on the programming
assignments in exchange for little additional understanding of algorithms.
We generally do not offer extra credit options other than the extra points discussed above for
peer evaluation. These complicate the grading too much and the workload is already high. However, if
you want to pursue work related to Algorithms for credit, talk to the instructors or to Nodari
Sitchinava about doing a project for ICS 499 credits.
We each have our own strengths. If a student performs significantly better on one area
than others, we may elect to put greater weight on the area that gives the student a better grade. We
are more willing to do this with strong exam performance, as exams are not easy and are proctored so
we know it's the student's work.
Last modified: Mon Aug 21 01:56:04 HST 2017