CSCE 181: Introduction to Computing

Spring 2019

Location/Time: TR 3:55 - 5:10, ARCC 105

Class Web Page:

Dr. Scott Schaefer
Office: HRBB 304A
Phone: 862-4673
Office Hours: TBA

Course Objectives:
The objectives of this course are to inform students about the field of Computer Science and Engineering, and to introduce them to the wide range of exciting applications of computation and technology in society. We will explain that Computer Science is not just about programming, but about computational thinking and the study of algorithms. Important terms and concepts in the field will be introduced, as a preview to what will be learned in other courses. We will explain the motivation for various aspects of our major, including the core course sequence in our curriculum, math requirements, supporting area, co-ops, etc. We will also discuss practical issues that are faced by Software Engineers (abstraction, testing, ethics, teamwork). In addition, invited speakers will give guest lectures on current topics such as parallel programming, artificial intelligence, and social networking, which will be used to illustrate algorithmic ideas and give students an overview of different areas within Computer Science.

Student Outcomes:
At the completion of this course, students will be able to:

  • explain what computational thinking means, and how computation influences many aspects of our technological society.
  • explain how computer science is about algorithms, not just programming .
  • be familiar with important terms and concepts in the field.
  • understand the rationale for the sequence of courses required of our majors.
  • understand different aspects of being a software engineer.

Prerequisites: None

The grade for the course will be determined as follows:

  • Attendance - 100% (There will be no exams.)
Attendance will be taken at the beginning of each class meeting. Your numerical grade for this component will be based simply on the proportion of classes you attend over the semester. For example, if the class actually meets 25 times during the semester, and a student misses 5 classes, they will receive a grade of 80%. Excused absences for legitimate reasons (see Student Rules) are always allowed, and students may make up absences by attending a department seminar, writing a one page (excluding header/footer), single spaced, one in. margins, 12 pt Times New Roman font summary of the seminar turned in via email before the last day of classes.
The expected grading scale will be A >= 90% > B >= 80% > C >= 70% > D >= 60% > F.

Optional Textbook:
Networked Life, Mung Chiang, Cambridge University Press, 2012.


DateTopicReading Assignment
1/17About the Major (CS at TAMU)
1/22Computational ThinkingGoogle's Material on Computational Thinking
1/24Dr. Keyser - Computer Graphics
1/29Programming Languages and Software EngineeringTeach Yourself to Program in Ten Years (Peter Norvig)
1/31Dr. Davis - Sparse Matrix Algorithms
2/7Dr. Dilma Da Silva
2/12Bradley Collet - Career Center
2/14Five Key Ideas in Computer Science
2/19Dr. Tsai - Operating Systems
2/21No class
2/26Dr. Ji - Machine Learning
2/28Graduate School and Research
3/5Ethics for Software EngineersACM Code of Ethics
3/7No class. IAP Distinguished Lecture at this time.
Counts for absence makeup policy.

Attendance: Attendance is mandatory and is the only graded aspect of the course.
Communication: A class web page (listed at the top of this syllabus) will be maintained throughout the semester. Students are responsible for checking both the web page and email regularly for class updates.

Academic Honesty:
The Aggie Honor Code is: “An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do.” Upon accepting admission to Texas A&M University, a student immediately assumes a commitment to uphold the Honor Code, to accept responsibility for learning, and to follow the philosophy and rules of the Honor System. Students will be required to state their commitment on examinations, research papers, and other academic work. Ignorance of the rules does not exclude any member of the TAMU community from the requirements or the processes of the Honor System. For additional information please visit:

For this class, the interpretation of the code will be as follows: You may only report attendance for yourself. Reporting attendance for any other person shall be considered an honor council violation for the reporting student. The default penalty for a first violation is an F in the class according to the University Honor Council.

ADA Statement:
The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please contact the Department of Student Life, Services for Students with Disabilities, in Cain Hall or call 845-1637.


  • TAMU CSE Department wiki - information about accounts, labs, web page hosting, VPN, free software, etc.
  • ACE Scholars Program, for info, email:
  • TACS - Texas A&M Computing Society, chapters of ACM and IEEE
  • TAGD - TAMU Game Developers organization
  • TAMU UPE - Upsilon Pi Epsilon - International Honors Society for the Computing and Information Disciplines
  • AWICS - Aggie Women in Computer Science

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