Q: What is the situation will all the different course numbers and sections (15-388, 15-688 A/B)?
A: To accomodate as many as people as possible, we created a section DNM (Does Not Meet) section of the 600 level course, which is the B section of the 15-688 course. This version is identical to the A section, except that students are expected to watch the lectures online (all lectures will be available online within a few hours after the end of class). We expect that attendance will shake out significantly during the first few weeks of the course, and our strong suspicious is that after the first month, there will be space in the lecture hall for anyone (from any section), to attend lectures, but we ask that until we make this clear, students in the B section not regularly attend lecture.

Q: How can I switch sections between 688 and 388? A: Please fill out a copy of the CMU Course Late Add Form, and email it to the course instructors. They will return a verion with the instructor signature within the day. You’ll need to get other signatures as well, but we will fill out everything as quickly as possible on our end.

Q: I really want to take the in-person 15-688 SectionA. Will I be able to get off the waitlist?
See above. We want to accomodate absolutely as many people as possible, but are ultimately limited by the classroom size (and following university policy, the undergraduate lectures have priority for in-class attendence). However, we really want to emphasize that the courses are exactly the same except for the in-class lecture and DNM section (same credit, same homeworks, same office hours, same access to TAs/professor, same tutorial and final project assigments, etc), and it is a certainty that Section B students will end up even being able to attend lectures by the middle of the semester. So please consider enrolling in Section B if you are in this position.

Q: I’m on the waitlist for the 15-388 version. Will I be able to get off the waitlist?
Yes, almost definitely. There is a relatively small waitlist for the 300 version currently, and we absolutely expect all students who stick around a few weeks to get off the waitlist.

Q: How does the 5% class participation grade work for students in the DNM section?
Given the size of this course, for all students (including 15-388/15-688A students) the class participation grade will be based upon participating in the course forums on Piazza, and answering poll questions during lectures, not upon speaking up in class.

Q: Is there a pointer to materials from a previous year?
A: Now that the website has transitioned to the new year, we’ll post slides from the previous year (but not assignments), to the web page by 1/18.

Q: Can I take the course pass/fail? A: Yes. You will ultimately need to receive a grade of “C” or higher (according to the final curve), to receiving a pass.

Q: Can I audit the course? A: Yes, but you must complete all the homework assignments and receive a grade of at least 60% in each of them. You should also enroll in the B section if you wish to audit the grad version. Audits for the undergrad version will only be offered if space allows (since we cannot offer a B section for 388). Auditors can optionally submit a tutorial or project, but this is not required. For the final project, you cannot partner with students who are taking the course for credit.

Q: When will this course be offered again?
A: Likely in Fall 2019.

Q: Will this course focus mainly on applying techniques from existing libraries to practical data science problems, or writing the underlying algorithms from scratch?
A: Both, to a certain extent. There will be plenty of focus on applying algorithms (often best used through existing libraries) to practical problems, but these libraries can be used more effectively when you understand the underlying algorithms well enough to implement them yourself. So, at least for the more straightforward algorithms that we cover, you will be implementing these yourselves. The 688 level course assignment will do a bit more of this underlying implementation than the 388 level course.

Q: What is the difference between this course at 10-401/10-601/10-701/15-381/etc?
There is naturally some overlap between this course and various machine learning or AI courses taught at CMU. There are also several courses taught outside of SCS (in Stats, Heinz, etc) that have similar topics. The short answer to this question is that the focus of this course (e.g., in the assignments) is more on programming and analyzing data, and much less on the math than in most courses we’re aware of. However, the best way to get a sense of the differences is to simply compare the lectures and assignments.

Q: I have a question that wasn’t asked here.
A: Come to office hours, or ask on the course Piazza.