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Problem Set 8
Out: 24 April
Due: Monday, 1 May (or later, see below for details)
After we grade Exam 2, you will receive an email assessing your current
performance in the class. It will include a recommendation for
what you should do for Problem Set 8 and (possibly) the Final Exam. The
recommendation might be one of these:
Collaboration Policy - Read Very Carefully
- Excellent performance — you have done enough to convince me
you have mastery of the course objectives and will receive at least an
A- in CS216. If you achieve at least Green Star performance on PS8 you
will receive at least an A in CS216. You do not need to take the
final. You may turn in PS8 any day until Monday, May 8 at 5pm. If you
do choose to take the final, your performance on it could convince me
you deserve higher than an A-, or that I was mistaken in my earlier
judgement and you deserve a lower grade.
- Good performance — you have done well enough to convince me
you deserve at least a B- in CS216. If you achieve at least Green Star
performance on PS8 you will receive at least an B in CS216. You may
choose to take the final, and if you perform well on the final you could
still earn an A in the course. If you choose to take the final, you
must turn in PS8 on Monday, May 1. If you choose not to take the final,
you may turn in PS8 any day until Monday, May 8 at 5pm. If you
do choose to take the final, as long as you achieve at least Green Star
performance on PS8 you will not receive lower than a B in the class.
(That is, there is no risk that taking the final will lower your grade).
- Unconvincing performance — you have not done enough yet to
convince me you deserve a B- in CS216. You should work alone on PS8,
and turn in PS8 on Monday, May 1 and take the final. You can still
receive a high grade in CS216, but will need to demonstrate good
understanding of the course material on PS8 and the final.
If you receive the excellent or good performance assessment, you may
work alone or with one, two, or three other people of your choice on
PS8. If you receive the unconvincing performance assessment, you
should work alone on PS8.
You may consult any outside resources including books, papers, web sites
and people you wish. You are also encouraged to discuss these problems
with students in the class. You must acknowledge any people and outside
resources you work with on your assignment. If you discuss the
assignment with people other than your partner, you may not take any
written materials out of your discussion. It is fine to bounce ideas
off other people, but the answers you turn in must be your own.
You are strongly encouraged to take advantage of the staffed lab
hours posted on the CS216 web site.
- Demonstrate what you have learned in CS216
- Produce an interesting and useful program that involves crossing
abstract layers and using several of the tools and techniques you
learned in CS216.
For this problem set, your goal is to create (or modify) a program that
satisfies these goals:
To receive a green star on this assignment you must accomplish at least
three of the goals. Acheiving four of the goals is worth a gold
star. Acheiving all five may be worth a double gold star, especially if
you find a good reason to incorporate the lowest representation levels
(either JVML or x86 Assembly).
- It involves at least 2 program representation levels (most likely
from Python, C, JVML, x86 Assembly) for sensible reasons
- It involves at least 1 interesting algorithm and data structure
- It is useful
- It is creative
- It is finished by the due date
To satisfy the first goal, you should find a way to combine multiple
programming levels to accomplish something that could not be easily
accomplished using a single level alone. Some possibilities include:
To satisfy the second goal, your program should involve an interesting
algorithm and data structure. Ideally, it would be something you invent
to solve a unique problem, but more likely it will involve implementing
an established data structure and algorithm. To satisfy goal #2, your
report should include an analysis of the asymptotic running time and
memory use of the relevant part of your program.
- Creating a Python extension and program that uses it (this would
involve using Python, C, and possibly x86 Assembly). You would need to
justify extending Python by explaining why it is hard to do what you
need with the provided language, or why better performance is needed for
your application. (Google "python extension" to find lots of examples
and documentation on creating Python extensions.)
- Create a C program that incorporates some assembly code for a good
reason, such as being able to observe system properties not accessible
directly or providing high performance for a fragment of performance
To satisfy the third and fourth goals you will need to do something that
actually has value (at least to yourselves, but ideally to many
potential users) and that has not already been done by other people. If
you are at a loss for ideas, you can satisfy goal 3 (but not goal 4) by
improving the performance or functionality of SpamBayes, a spam filter
implemented in Python.
To satisfy the fifth goal, you need to turn in a report and email a zip
file containing a working implementation of your program by the due
date. If you do not satisfy the fifth goal (finished), you should still
turn in something by the due date. If you do not have a complete
implementation, you should turn in a partil implementation, design
description, and explanation of what is left to do.
If you are unsure if your idea for this problem set is acceptable, send
me email describing it before Thursday, April 27. (You can, of course,
ask questions or refine your idea after that, but it may be too late to
get general feedback on your idea after Thursday.)
On or before the due date (see above), you should turn in a paper report
(either in class, or at my office, Olsson 236A). The report should
contain these sections:
In addition to submitting the report on paper, send a zip file of all
your code and a README file explaining clearly how to run it, to
firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have test cases (you probably
should!), include them in your zip file also. If your program is
deployed as a web application, send the URL for the application in your
- Description (no more than 1 page) — describe the program you created or the
modifications you did to an existing program. If you aim to satisfy
goal 3, you should also explain why it is useful and interesting. If
you aim to satisfy goal 4, you should explain why it is original and how
it differs from previous work on the same goal or why your goal is new
- Programming Tools (no more than 1 page) — Identify the programming tools you used
(or would plan to use to complete the program). Explain why you choose
the tools you did. Discuss the advantages and disadvantages for the
choices you made and consider alternatives.
- Data Representation and Algorithm Analysis — If you aim to satisfy the second goal,
describe the data representation and/or algorithmic problem you had to
solve and describe your solution. Include an analysis of the asymptotic
running time and memory use of your solution.
- Status — Describe how much of your program is complete, and
what is left to do.
Have Fun! — If you can't think of any program that it would
be fun to work on, you might want to consider if computing is the right
field for you.
Be Creative! — You can do anything you want so long as it
is not distructive or unethical.
Be Realistic! — You only have 1 or 2 weeks for this. Try to
think of something that you can make a good start on in a limited amount
of time, but could continue to improve and expand later.
Try and pick something to work on that you find interesting and
important enough that you will want to keep working on it over the
summer, and that will have an impact if you are successful.