6.170 / Fall 2001 / General Information

Handout A1


Course web site

The course web site is http://web.mit.edu/6.170/www/ .

Registration Form

You must fill out the online registration form by midnight on Thursday September 6, or you will not be able to take the class.

Teams for projects must be in the same recitation. Please, make sure that your schedules coincide, and you can attend the same recitation.


Name Office Phone Email
Lecturers Daniel Jackson NE43-530 258-8471 dnj at MIT
Srinivas Devadas NE43-258 253-0454 devadas at MIT
Course Secretary James Steere NE43-529 258-5707 jsteere-at-no.lcs.mit.edu
Head TA Robert Lee NE43-630 x3-7710 rhlee at MIT
Teaching Assistants Nii Dodoo NE43-413 x3-9823 dodoo at MIT
Ang-Chih (Brendan) Kao NE43-412 x2-2512 akao at MIT
Brandy Leung 24-317 x8-5695 bleung at MIT
Michal Mirvis NE43-531 x3-4507 mbmirvis at MIT
Kurt Steinkraus NE43-916 x3-2077 kurtas at MIT
Jonathan Whitney NE43-532 x3-6101 jwhitney at MIT
Laboratory Assistants Keith Bonawitz     bonawitz at MIT
Naveen Goela     ngoela at MIT
Jasper Lin     jasperln at MIT
Philip Lee     philee at MIT
Sophia Yuditskaya     scyudits at MIT
Lee Lin     leelin at MIT
Mailing Lists All Staff: Lecturers, TAs, and LAs     6.170-staff@mit.edu
Lecturers     6.170-lecturers@mit.edu
Teaching Assistants     6.170-tas@mit.edu
Laboratory Assistants     6.170-las@mit.edu

Staff Hours

TAs will schedule office hours and locations by the end of the first week of class. Please visit your TA (or another TA, if necessary) during their office hours if you have anything you'd like to discuss about the course or course materials. Please see the TA Office Hours for the locations and times of of their office hours.

LAs will schedule LA hours held in designated clusters. Please feel free to work in the cluster so you can talk to them in person when you have questions about Java or other technical details. Time permitting, they also monitor the 6.170 zephyr instance while on duty, but they give priority to students who visit them in person. Please see the LA Lab hours for an up-to-date list of hours.

The lecturers are available by appointment but do not have fixed office hours.

Student Responsibilities

Students develop their abilities through several different activities:

Whom to Ask

When solving your assignments, the laboratory assistants should be your first resource for problems with your Java code or the Athena environment. For other questions, the LAs may be able to help you with advice or information, but you should not rely on them. Your TA can answer most questions about the course. If for any reason, you are not satisfied with the help you are receiving, you should contact the lecturers.

Here are some examples of questions appropriate for various staff members. Naturally, you shouldn't ask a question unless you have first tried to find the answer yourself. When asking a question, be sure to say what you have already tried to do to solve the problem; that way the staff won't waste its time and yours repeating something you already know.


Required Text

Barbara Liskov. Program Development in Java: Abstraction, Specification, and Object-Oriented Design. Addison Wesley, 2001.
Available at Quantum Books (specially reserved), or from amazon.com . Extra copies of the book have been specially reserved at Quantum which not only sells the book at a discounted price, but will save you the cost of shipping, and, since it is for a class, sales tax.

Recommended Java Texts

This course is not about Java, but you will be required to learn Java during the first two weeks. We recommend that you use this book:

The entire text is on the web, but not in quite the same order as the book:

We also strongly recommend:

Other books that students have found useful in the past:

Other References

Where and When

Lectures and Review Sessions

6.170 meets Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday from 2-3 in the afternoon.
Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday are lectures in 4-270, and Thursday is a review session.
Note that the first Thursday is a lecture and not a review session.

Review Section Locations (Thursdays at 2pm):
You will be assigned to a section based on the sign-up form you submit; the section assignment made by the registrar is ignored. 

Section Instructor Location
1 Nii Dodoo 13-1143
2 Brendan Kao 13-3101
3 Brandy Leung 36-372
4 Michal Mirvis 24-121
5 Kurt Steinkraus 26-328
6 Jonathan Whitney 31-161
7 Robert Lee 36-156

Recitation section information will be distributed by email no later than the evening of Monday, September 10, and will also be available on the web.


There will be a single one-hour quiz during class time on Wednesday, October 31st.


Grading policy

Individual Work Participation Credit
Exercise 1 5%
Exercise 2 5%
Exercise 3 10%
Exercise 4 10%
Exercise 5 10%
Exercise 6 10%
Quiz 15%
Group Work Project 35%

All members of a team are usually given the same grade for the team project. The grade includes both written materials -- specifications, design and code -- as well as oral presentations and constructive participation in review sessions.

To encourage participation in reviews in the first half of term, teaching assistants can award significant credit (up to 20% of the final grade) for constructive contributions during review sessions. The total portion of the grade allotted to exercises and participation is capped at 50% of the total grade, but using participation credit, it is possible to achieve a perfect score despite points lost on written exercises.

Your written work will be graded on the quality of the ideas and the quality of their presentation. Code will be judged by its clarity, organization, style and correctness. It is the student's responsibility to demonstrate to the grader that the code is correct by showing the results of running a test suite. In the absence of such evidence, graders will assume that code is not correct. This is the standard you would be held to in industry. If there is no appropriate output to show, you should add a comment stating that a test suite executed successfully (or not, if it didn't).

We make every effort to standardize TA grading policies, but we reserve the right to normalize grades across recitation sections to account for remaining disparities.

Late/missing work

or you will fail the course. You will not pass the course if you receive no credit for these, or if what you hand in is too insubstantial to be deemed a reasonable effort.

Collaborative work

The Departmental Guidelines Relating to Academic Honesty require that we inform you of our expectations regarding permissible academic conduct.

This policy is more lenient than it has been in previous terms, in an attempt to foster constructive collaboration amongst students. We therefore depend on the honesty of students in not violating it, and will take very seriously even minor infractions. If you are found to have copied code from another student's work, you should expect to fail the course.

We rely on students' honesty in their declarations that test suites run successfully. It is a very serious violation of academic ethics to submit such a claim with code that does not in fact pass the suite. In order to avoid clerical errors that may give the appearance of dishonesty, we strongly suggest that you rerun all your test suites when you have completed your code immediately prior to submission.



Handouts will be distributed on the class web site. Announcements will be posted as Messages of the Day on the class website . These announcements are also available by subscribing to the 6.170-motd mailing list . Very important announcements will be emailed to all students.

Graded Assignments

Graded assignments will generally be returned to you in the review session in the week after they were due.

Exercise hints

To complete the exercises as efficiently as possible, and to derive the most benefit, we recommend that you:

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