Course Policies


During the Spring 2021 offering, the course will be conducted entirely online. Students from any section may attend lectures on Zoom, also linked from the Canvas page. However, you are also welcome to simply watch the recorded lectures.

Class participation will be evaluated by your participation in the discussion forums, not through attendance in class.

Changing Sections

You may be able to do this over SIO; if you can do that, that is preferable.

If that does not work, fill out a copy of the CMU Course Late Add Form and email it to the course instructor. (You’ll need to additional signatures to complete and submit the form.)

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 matrial more effectively.

Grace period

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

Assignments must be submitted by 11:59pm 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.

Grading Errors

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

Special Circumstances

We understand that circumstances beyond your control may prevent you from being able to complete coursework. If this happens, please contact the Office of the Dean of Students, who are best suited to supporting you in a time of crisis.

With a note from the Dean’s office, we can adjust course deadlines to help you through your trying times. You must inform us (by email) of your intention to seek a Dean’s note as early as possible; you do not need to provide us with a reason.

Deadline adjustments are suitable when a few days is enough; if you need to take more time away, discuss your options with an academic dean.


To audit the course, complete this form and email it to

To pass the class when auditing, you must receive a grade of at least 50% of the total points in at least 4 of the 5 homework assignments. Audits for the undergrad version may not be offered if we do not have sufficient room in the lectures. The tutorial, final project, and attendance do not count towards your grade, but you can feel free to submit the tutorial or project and attend class. For the final project, you cannot work with students who are taking the course for credit.