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 CSE131R?
CSE131 is the standard course, and CSE131R is an optional 1-unit pass/fail seminar associated with CSE131R. The seminar features a guest talk and discussion conducted by faculty from Computer Science and Engineering. Credit is given for CSE131R based on attendance. Incentives are offered in CSE131 for taking CSE131R.

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 appreciated 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, studio, or in the lab assignments. Since CSE131 is a 3 unit course, you should expect to spend about 9 hours per week on average doing the lab assignments, including the lab session itself. 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?
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. The navigation bar has tutorials in installing and using eclipse and subversion.

Where should I store my work?
We are using subversion which will save your files in a very safe place when you commit them. This will allow you to work from any place that has an Internet connection if you have eclipse with subversion.

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.