CSE131 Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Below are some typical questions student have about CSE131. If your question isn't answered here, please ask!

General questions are answered below. If you have a question about a particular assignment, see the FAQ page for that course module.

What is the difference between CSE131 and CSE131X?
CSE131 is the standard course, has four class meetings per week, and is worth 4 credit units. CSE131X is accelerated, and students attend only twice each week and receive only 2 credit units. On Fridays, CSE131 and CSE131X meet together. Registration for CSE131X requires permission of the instructor. For more information, see the CSE131X web page.

I am on the waiting list for CSE131 or for the lab section I need. Will I be able to take the course?
Almost certainly! Be sure to attend class on the first day. In the past, we have been able to accommodate everyone from the waiting list.

Do I need any computer science background to succeed in CSE131?
No. The only prerequisite for this course is that you be comfortable with algebra and geometry at the high school level. No programming background is required. We start from the beginning. However, the course is demanding and does move rather quickly. If you're looking for an easy course, this isn't it.

I have some programming experience. Will I be bored in CSE131?
Most high school computer science courses cover programming, but not computer science. In other words, you may have learned the nuts and bolts, but the theory is likely to be missing. Things may seem a bit slow at the beginning, but this course can be understood at many different levels. If you have significant experience in object-oriented programming, particularly in Java or C++, you should discuss your background with the instructor to determine if this course is appropriate.

How much time should I expect to spend on CSE131?
CSE131 emphasises learning by doing. Most of your time outside of class will be spent on lab assignments. You will spend very little time reading, since everything you need to know will be covered in lecture or in the lab assignments. Since CSE131 is a 4 unit course, you should expect to spend about 10 hours per week on average doing the lab assignments. Some weeks will require more time, some will require less.

Is there a textbook for CSE131?
No. However, if you'd like a book to supplement/reinforce the material covered in class, you're welcome to stop by during office hours to explain what kind of book you're looking for and ask for a recommendation. In addition to the text, on-line lecture highlights will be provided.

Do I need a CEC account for CSE131?
Yes. CEC (Center for Engineering Computing) provides educational computing support for the School of Engineering and Applied Science. You will need a CEC account in order to participate in your lab sections. If you are an Engineering student, you should already have an account. Otherwise, CEC we will provide you a temporary account for use during the semester. More information will be given in class.

Do I need to buy a computer for CSE131?
No. You do not need to own a computer to take this course. The Center for Engineering Computing (CEC) has a PC Lab in Sever 201 that is generally open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for your use. Labs are reserved for classes at certain times. See this lab schedule for details.

If I want to buy a computer, what should I buy?
CEC has published these (slightly out of date) recommendations. In general, consider 1 gigabyte a minimum for RAM. If you're choosing between a slightly slower processor and more memory, buy more memory. For a Mac, you want Mac OSX Version 10.4 or higher, or else you won't be able to use the most recent version of Java.

I have my own computer. Can I set it up to work on the CSE131 assignments?
Yes. You will work on CSE131 assignments in Eclipse, an Integrated Development Environment (IDE) that provides a text editor, a Java compiler and a debugger. Java and Eclipse are both free. To get started, follow these instructions for installing Java and Eclipse.

Where should I store my work?
On CEC, Eclipse will save your files in a workspace folder on your CEC H: drive. CEC makes backups, but you should also keep your own electronic copy if possible. If you like, you can read about how to access your CEC H: drive from home, so you can transfer files back and forth. Or, you can just use a USB memory stick.

I'm having trouble with my computer. Where can I get help?
CEC's FAQ page on the three systems may have the answer you need. CEC's help center also has consultants to answer general questions about computer use. However, please see the CSE131 teaching assistants for any questions that specifically relate to the course.