Margaret's front yard in the foggy gloom

Online learning during the Zombie Apocalypse

Well, not quite. But it does seem that way.

This page summarizes the main facts about the online continuation of CS 173. We're going to try to cover the rest of the topics as well as possible, and maintain the spirit of the course policies as much as possible.

Be aware that details may change as the situation develops. Check this page frequently and watch Piazza for announcements.

Written materials

This course already has huge amounts of written learning and review materials on the web pages, and practice examlets on the web pages from previous terms Many students have used it to self-study the material for the proficiency exam. Please make full use of this material.


Our normal Tuesday lectures will be replaced by recorded videos posted on moodle. We've divided our usual long lectures into several short videos that can be accessed from the CS 173 channel on media space.

Discussions and office hours

Discussions and office hours will be replaced by a number of scheduled online meetings and Q-and-A forums throughout the week. The schedule is on our google calendar (Info link off the A and B lecture home pages). There will be two types of meetings

Recall that discussions were cancelled March 12-13. Starting with those discussions, we will no longer be taking attendance. Your final attendance grade will be based on attendance through March 6th. If you need to make up an earlier discussion, email a photo/scan of your work to your discussion TA. (See the "staff" tab for their email addresses.)

Homework and reading quizzes

These moodle activities will remain unchanged.


All the examlet materials will be posted on moodle. Although you cannot take the examlets until the appropriate time on Thursday, you should be able to see the list of activities and high-level instructions some days earlier.

Examlet format

Some examlets will be a single 30-minute moodle quiz. However, for technical reasons, examlets involving a long induction proof will be divided into two separate activities, one for the proof and one for the rest of the exam.

It's difficult to write complex equations using a typewriter. We'll use a hybrid approach to this problem:

Obviously, you don't have time to become completely fluent with latex notation. Use this quick guide to learn the basics. You may use this guide (electronically or in printed form) while doing your exams. A practice activity is available on moodle. It's ungraded and has a deadline far in the future, so you can type whatever you want and type "save changes" to see the formatted output. A small amount of latex practice will make it much easier for you to input proofs.

Do not panic if an equation refuses to format. CS people frequently use latex-style syntax (e.g. "x^{10}") for typing equations into plaintext interfaces. Write the rest of your proof and go back to the problem equation if you have time at the end. If many equations refuse to format, check the drop-down for text type (upper right above the type-in box) to make sure you are in paragraph, not preformatted, mode.

The edit boxes for these long proofs also support insertion of pictures. In the formatting menu right above the box, look for a little landscape icon towards the right of the top (or only) line of icons. Uploaded pictures can work well if your handwriting is easy to read and you do a good job with your camera/scanner. And you can upload a picture as a backup/supplement to a typed anaswer. However, do not wait until near the end and try to upload your entire work as a scan. This will leave you in a very bad position if your upload doesn't succeed before the deadline closes.

It's also ok to type your answer into another text formatter, screengrab sections, and upload these into the edit box. However, the same warning applies about uploading work gradually rather than waiting until the last minute.

The edit boxes for short-answer questions and shorter proofs (e.g. makeups for examlets 4 and 5) have the same edit features, including latex math mode. But it's much harder to preview your equations. So it would be very hard to include equations of any complexity. We're assuming that you'll use plaintext to answer these questions.

Examlet Timing

Examlets will be taken on Thursdays. Current plan is for each examlet to be available 7am to 1pm central standard time to accommodate people in different timezones. Once you start taking an exam, you'll have a set amount of time (e.g. 30 minutes) to finish it. For the separate long proofs, there will probably be specific 30-minute windows in which you must do the exam.

If you have a DRES accommoation for extended time, we'll set that up for you in the online exam. If you need any other accommodation, please email Margaret (mfleck).

The university hasn't yet announced details for final exams. However, we're expecting that we'll be doing them online in a way similar to the regular examlets, in a time window at/near our scheduled final exam times.

Examlet Topics

We missed an examlet (examlet 6) before break. So the contents of examlets 6-8 will be covered in two examlets, each worth the usual 30 points. Topic coverage will be

Right now, we're planning for later examlets to keep their original content. If that needs to change, we'll update this page and announce on piazza.

Makeup examlets

Makeup examlets will be offered in the same time window (Thursda, 7am to 1pm central time) the following week. Exception: makeups for examlet 12 will be on Tuesday of the final week of classes.

As usual, if you are unable to take the original examlet and the makeup, please contact the instructors to arrange a makeup plan. In many cases, you will be taking a late makeup two weeks after the original exam. However,with the amount of chaos happening right now, it is particularly important that we understand why individuals may have been unable to take examlets on the normal schedule and how many people are caught up in each type of problem.

Late makeups for examlets 4 and 5 will be available on moodle Thursday March 26th. The format is slightly different from the paper versions of these examlets but they will cover the same content. Due to the confusion right before break, we have some people who should take both of these makeups and also examlet 6/7. Therefore, these makeups will be available for an extended time window: 6am to 4pm central time.

Retakes and examlet averages

We will not be offering our usual option to retake an examlet at the final exam. Instead, we will drop your lowest examlet score when computing your final examlet average. The final exam will be treated as two independent examlet scores (examlet 13 and review examlet) for this purpose.