Course Policies

Be sure to read the Information page on this website for important course details. Additional policies are detailed below.

Homework Collaboration Policy

Note that this policy is a change from previous offerings of the course, and from most course collaboration policies. The policies here of course only apply to this course and no others at CMU.

You are permitted to collaborate on the homework, including discussing the details of the assignment with other students, discussing portions of code with others in the course, posting code (publicly) on the discussion forums. However, the work you submit should be your own, in that you have written it all yourself, with only discussion with others guiding you in fixing any bugs, etc, in your own code. Each submission you make is logged on the autograding server, and if we find students with very substantial overlap we will take action accordingly. But the goal for now is to allow students the freedom to experiment with the assignments in hopes of better understanding the material.

We are aware that this is a relatively permissive policy, and allows for the possibility of people copying large portions of code that may be difficult to detect. Our rationale for the policy is the following: In many cases, the genuinely best way to learn how to solve some problem is by talking with others about the details of a coding assignment, by searching the web for some specific way that people have done things in the past, or often by helping others who had similar problems as you did in the past. Requiring that students obey the standard practice of “talk to others but then write up your solution independently” opens up a lot of gray area about what amount of code can be shared, and frankly doesn’t reflect the realities of coding as you would practice it in a real data science position. With that in mind, we are experimenting with this more permissive policy this year.

In this spirit, we ask that everyone taking the course to please go along with the overall spirit of this policy. The goal here is not that one person finds a solution, posts it so the message board, and then 10 other people start to use it. We will delete posts such as this. But we do want to encourage collaboration and discussion amongst class members, with the hope that everyone can learn the material more effectively.

Grace period

You are expected to complete your work and submit all assignments well before the deadline.

Assignments must be submitted by 11:59 pm on the due date, according to the server timestamp. There is no grace period given for assignments submitted late, even by a few seconds. In the event that there is a larger error than just standard slowness (i.e., if our grading server goes down right before the deadline), we will extend things accordingly.

Late Days

Each student is permitted 5 late days they may use over the course of the semester, using no more than 2 late days on each assignment. After the two late days on each assignment, or after you have used the five late days, you will receive zero credit for the assignment. Late days may only be used for the homework assignments, not for the tutorial or final project.

Slip days are counted by the granularity of days. For example, if you turn in your assignment 30 minutes after the deadline, that will count as one full slip day.

You may use these at your discretion, but they are intended for minor illness and other disruptive events outside of your control, and not for poor time management

Aside from this, there will be no extensions on assignments in general. If you think you really really need an extension on a particular assignment, contact the instructor as soon as possible and before the deadline. Please be aware that extensions are only considered in exceptional circumstances outside of your control (e.g., due to severe illness or major personal/family emergencies, but not for competitions, club-related events or interviews). The instructor will require confirmation from your Student Affairs College Liason or your academic advisor, as appropriate.

Nearly all situations that make you run late on an assignment homework can be avoided with proper planning — often just starting early. Here are some examples:

  • I have so many deadlines this week: you know your deadlines ahead of time — plan accordingly.
  • It’s a minute before the deadline and the network is down: you always have multiple submissions - it’s not a good idea to wait for the deadline for your first submission.
  • My computer crashed and I lost everything: Use Dropbox or similar to do real-time backup - recover your files onto AFS and finish your homework from a cluster machine.
  • My fraternity/sorority/club has that big event that is taking all my time: Schedule your extra-curricular activities around your classes, not vice versa.

Final Grade

We convert final course scores to letter grades based on grade boundaries that are determined at the end of the semester. We will determine grade boundaries after the end of the course. These will be based on the distribution of grades in the 15-388 and 15-688 sections independently. Below is a rough heuristic about the correlation between final grades and total scores. The grade boundaries will not be more strict than this. For example, the final boundaries between B’s and C’s won’t be higher than 80%.

  • A: above 90%
  • B: 80-90%
  • C: 70-80%
  • D: 60-70%

Grades for graduate students will be broken down further with +/- distinctions. See the grading policies for CMU and your college for more information.

The above heuristic assumes that the makeup of a student’s grade is not wildly anomalous: exceptionally low overall scores on exams, quizzes, and assignments will be treated on a case-by-case basis.

Precise grade cutoffs will not be discussed at any point during or after the semester. For students very close to grade boundaries, instructors may, at their discretion, consider participation in lecture and recitation, exam performance, and overall grade trends when assigning the final grade.

Grading Errors

Our homeworks are graded automatically; if you suspect there is an error then please notify the course staff.