1 Anticipated Frequent Questions

This AFQ (Anticipated Frequent Questions) should cover most of your questions. Please only ask questions after you’ve read the document below and not found a response to your query.

Note: All course numbers below refer to computer science (CSCI) courses: e.g., 0190 means CSCI 0190.

Q: How do I enroll in this course?

A: All students who want to take 0190 must initially enroll in and attend 0170, and complete its regular homeworks. There will be additional homeworks given for students who wish to determine whether they should take 0190 instead. Those who do well on the regular 0170 homeworks, and are successful at the supplemental homeworks, will be invited to enroll in 0190.

0190 will separate from 0170 on Wednesday, October 14. When the classes separate, 0190 will meet at the same time (MWF 10-11) in a different room (CIT 368: map, directions). Until then, you will be a regular 0170 student and you must go to wherever 0170 meets.

Q: Are the supplemental homeworks effective?

A: Yes. Both qualitative and quantiative checks indicate that the supplements are a good predictor of success in 0190.

Q: Help! I didn’t do well on one of the supplements! What do I do now?

A: Keep calm and carry on (with the supplements). We find that students stop doing the supplements too early when they should have kept going. We care about your overall progression, so if you can pick up your performance, that’s fine. Don’t panic, all is not lost!

Q: Is 0190 limited in size?

A: No! There is no size limit on 0190: anyone who does well will get in. Therefore, you are not competing with your classmates. Of course, you should not share your solutions with them (be sure to follow the honesty policy of 0170), but it does mean the supplements do not disrupt the camaraderie that characterizes our department’s culture.

Q: How bad is the workload?

A: You may have heard rumors about how dreadfully difficult the course is, and how it will consume your every living hour. Sadly, the data don’t match these claims. In fact, according to the Critical Review, the average hours per week for the three introductory courses last year was: 0150: 9.5 average, 18.4 max; 0170: 15.2 average, 26.8 max; 0190: 9.2 average, 16.0 max. So we’re the humane, sane option.

Q: If I complete 0190, what course will my final transcript indicate?

A: Assuming you didn’t or don’t separately take 0170 also, your final transcript will show only 0190. There will be no record of your initial enrollment in 0170 in your official external Brown transcript. We will work with the registrar’s office to automatically switch the enrollment of 0190 students from 0170.

Note: Though your transfer from 0170 to 0190 will be done smoothly, you cannot change your grade option at that time. If you’ve started to take 0170 pass/fail, for instance, you will have to do the same for 0190.

Q: Is there any other way of getting into cs019?

A: No. And the current system is good for you. If you come in with some computer science background, it gives you a way to gently determine your level of ability and pick the course that is best for you. If you come in with no computer science background, you may still benefit from the accelerated course; you can find that out during the first month.

If we start 0190 too soon, students with insufficient (or no) computing background would simply not have the confidence to know they would do well in 0190. On the other hand, those with computing background might do disproportionately well at the beginning of 0170, thus overestimating their strength. We chose a month to strike a balance.

Q: What should I do after 0190?

A: After you have completed 0190, you have numerous options.

First of all, you are welcome to take any course that requires the intro “sequences” (0150-0160, 0170-0180, or 0190) as a prerequisite. This can even include upper-level (1000-level) courses. Yes, some 0190 students start taking upper-level courses in their very second semester of college! This isn’t just an option for those who’ve had prior computing; it’s a matter of the prerequisites listed for spring courses, and your interests. Talk to the course staff; many of them have done just that.

Second, many students take 0320, but not everyone does.

Third, you can even take 0180.

In particular, if you have some Java background, or can acquire it over winter break, you are ready to move on. If you can’t acquire this background by the time the spring semester begins, you can take 0180, which is the usual follow-up course for 0170 students. There will probably be some overlap between what you do in 0190 and what you will see later in 0180, but that should just make you better at that material.

In general, talk to your academic advisor and to people in the department, especially if you decide to follow an unconventional path. There may be subtle dependencies between courses that you may not appreciate, and talking to people will help you avoid getting into a mess later on.

Q: If I’ve taken 0150 or 0170 before, should I take 0190?

A: No. You should instead proceed to the next course in that sequence, namely 0160 or 0180. You will learn more from them.

Q: If I’ve taken 0160 or 0180 before, should I take 0190?

A: No. You should instead proceed with the rest of the curriculum.

Q: If I’ve already taken 0020, 0040, or 0931, should I take 0190?

A: 0190 may indeed make a lot of sense. Take 0170 and be sure to do the 0190 supplemental homeworks!

Q: Why don’t you have an entry point from 0150?

A: 0150 is an excellent course. However, the current design of 0190 relies on what 0170 teaches. The first few weeks of 0150 are too different from those of 0170. If 0190 had to accept students from both classes, it could not assume enough common background, and would hence have to be a weaker course.

It is quite possible that a different professor teaching 0190 would create a course that is closely aligned with 0150 instead. Their AFQ would instead tell you that 0170 is an excellent course, but not an appropriate entry point.

Q: I have a question not answered above! Where do I send it?

A: Address it to the professor.