A Brief COVID Note

Students are expected to comply with all campus procedures regarding COVID. As of today, that means properly wearing a mask. Please be respectful of your peers by wearing a mask. Anyone not following campus policy may be asked to leave class and/or reported to the Center for Student Conduct. Hopefully, this never happens. :)

Exams & Proctoring

CS88 will support students taking the exam remotely, but they will need to use Zoom to proctor their remote session. We believe this strikes a balance between flexibility and integrity. The exact setup will be shared in the month leading up to the exam.

Course Description

CS 88 is a connector for Data 8 that is designed for students who would like a more complete introduction to Computer Science. We will cover a variety of topics such as functional programming, data abstraction, object-oriented programming, and program complexity. This course will be taught primarily in Python. However, we are interested in teaching you foundational programming ideas, not just how to use one particular programming language. Once you have learned the essence of programming and the concepts that appear in various forms in programming languages, you will be able to pick up other languages and other programming concepts rapidly.

The material for this course has significant overlap with CS 61A. We do not cover the interpretation section of CS61A. If you are certain that you want to major or minor in Computer Science, CS 61A is the right introductory course. You can take CS 61A for credit after having taken CS 88. However, you cannot take CS 88 for credit after having taken CS 61A. Data 8 and CS 88 together satisfy the knowledge prerequisite for CS 61B.


It is recommended, but not required, that you are currently enrolled in or have taken Data 8. There is no formal programming-related prerequisite for CS 88. You do not need to be familiar with any particular programming language.

Course Format

Lecture: There will be two 50-minute lectures per week. The class calendar will contain links to videos for each lecture.

Lecture Self-Checks: Every lecture will have a short series of questions, which can be answered online after the lecture. These questions will help check your understanding. Each lecture quiz is worth 1 point, and you have one week to complete each quiz. Late submissions are accepted until the end of the semester for half credit. These are graded on correctness, but you have infinite attempts.

Labs/Discussion: This course also includes one weekly two-hour section. The first hour will be going over a discussion worksheet and writing code by hand. The second hour will be coding on computers. Sections will be run by a TA. Labs are short, relatively simple exercises designed to introduce a new topic. Participation in lab is essential and required. Labs will be graded on correctness, but you can still get full credit even if you do not get every single question right.

Homework: There will be weekly homework assignments that will be more involved and are meant to illustrate and explore new topics. You are encouraged to discuss the homework with other students, but your final solution should be developed alone. Homework will be graded on accuracy.

Projects: There will be 2 projects intended to teach you how to combine ideas from the course in interesting ways. Projects will be graded on accuracy.

Exams: This course will have one midterm and a final. The Midterm will held in the evening and is two hours long to give you more time than lecture would allow. You will be allowed to bring an unlimited number of handwritten pages of notes to each exam. Details of this policy will be released as the exams approach.

Office Hours: Attending office hours is another great way to succeed in this course. Office hours are held by TAs and the instructor each week. An office hours schedule appears on the course website. In office hours, you can ask questions about the material, receive guidance on assignments, work with peers and course staff in a small group setting, find project partners, and learn about computer science at Berkeley.

Optional Sections: In addition to the weekly class meetings, the course will include optional events such as review sessions/LOST sections that are designed to help you master the course material and complete the assignments. Details of these events will be announced as they approach.


The online textbook for the course is Composing Programs, which was created specifically for CS61A but is also the best basis for this course. Readings for each lecture appear in the course schedule. We will be jumping around a little due to the data-centric orientation of the course. You should complete the readings before attending lecture.

In addition, the course website and Piazza will contain additional links to guides, handouts, and practice materials available for the course.


Your course grade is computed using a point system with the following distribution:

Assignment Weight
Lecture Quizzes 5% (20 points)
Labs 11% (44 points)
Homework 22% (88 points)
Projects 25% (100 points)
Midterm 14% (56 points)
Final 23% (92 points)
EPA (Effort, Participation, Altruism)

The EPA points will be determined at the end of the semester and will only serve to boost your grade. EPA is based on attendance, being a good citizen, and doing your best. Helping others out on Ed and actively participating in lab are some ways you can earn EPA points. It is only very small portion of your grade and rewards those who consistently put in effort into CS 88.

This means the total points scale is out of 400 points. In this class, we will use grading bins to determine your grade, so you will know the number of points you need to get your desired grade in the class. Remember, with grading bins, there are no comparisons to your peers, no curves, no guessing or complex formulas.

Grade Bins

 A+  ≥ 398    A  ≥ 380    A-  ≥ 360
 B+  ≥ 330    B  ≥ 300    B-  ≥ 280
 C+  ≥ 250    C  ≥ 220    C-  ≥ 200
 D+  ≥ 180    D  ≥ 160    D-  ≥ 150


  • Self-Checks: We will count your 20 best self-check submissions. (There are typically 23-25 self-checks each semester.)
  • Clobber Policy: This allows your final exam to replace your midterm score, if it is better based on the percentage. That if you Midterm score is always max(midterm-%, final-%) * 56 pts.

Late Policy

Everyone has 9 slip days, which can be applied to late submissions of labs, homework, and projects.

  • Each assignment can have a max of 3 slip days applied to it. These slip days will be automatically applied at the end of the semester to maximize your grade.
  • If you have no remaining slip days, there is a -25% reduction to your total score for every day that the assignment is late.

    • After 3 late days, you can no longer receive credit for the submission.
    • For exceptional circumstances, please contact course staff via Ed.

Assignment Drops: We will drop your lowest homework and lab score from your final grade calculation.

Projects: Projects will offer extra credit for early submission.

Self-Checks: Lecture self-checks are not elligble for slip days. However, we will base your submission time off your first submssion. After that, you may resubmit any time until the end of the semester. A first submission after the deadline may earn 50% credit.

Learning Cooperatively

With the obvious exception of exams and take-home quizzes, we encourage you to discuss all of the course activities with your friends and classmates as you are working on them. You will definitely learn more in this class if you work with others than if you do not. Ask questions, answer questions, and share ideas liberally.

Since you're working collaboratively, keep your project partner and TA informed. If some medical or personal emergency takes you away from the course for an extended period, or if you decide to drop the course for any reason, please don't just disappear silently! You should inform your project partner, so that nobody is depending on you to do something you can't finish.

Academic Honesty

Cooperation has a limit, however, and in CS 88 that limit is sharing code. Feel free to discuss the problems with others beforehand, but not the code that solves them. Projects can be completed in pairs. You can share everything with your partner. Do not share your code with anyone but your partner, and do not read anyone but your partner's code. Do not post your solutions online. Do not use pastebin or GitHub, which post your work publicly by default. Do not read solutions that you find online. Write your own programs and keep them to yourself. In the case of office hours, sections, and in the presecne of a TA, you may see someone else's code to help them debug, but you should not use this as a guide to your own solution.

If you find a solution online, please email a link to that solution to the instructor.

We expect you to hand in your own work, take your own tests, and complete your own projects. The assignments and evaluations are structured to help you learn, which is why you're here. The course staff works hard to put together this course, and we ask in return that you respect the integrity of the course by not misrepresenting your work.

The EECS Department Policy on Academic Dishonesty says, "Copying all or part of another person's work, or using reference materials not specifically allowed, are forms of cheating and will not be tolerated." The policy statement goes on to explain the penalties for cheating, which range from a zero grade for the test up to dismissal from the University, for a second offense.

In this class, cheating on an assignment can result in -100% on that assignment.

The creation of computer programs is the most rewarding and the same time most frustrating activity: As exhilarating as it is when a program works, as frustrating can it be when it doesn't. This frustration, however, is a very important part of the learning experience: You are sharpening your own analytical skills by having the computer constantly test your hypotheses. Sharing code and short cutting the mental discovery process that goes along with creating code strips you off the most important part of this class. If you find you are running out of ideas, take a break and do something else, then go back to it. If you end up not finding a solution after major time spent, try to formulate in your head what your most constructive question would be and seek help from a peer, a TA, or the professor. The TAs, academic interns, and instructor are all here to help you succeed. If you cannot solve a problem in time for the deadline, try to come as close as you can, even if you might not end up getting points for it. You are attending Berkeley for the experience, not for the grades. Don't strip yourself off that experience by copying somebody else's code.

A Parting Thought

The main goal of this course is to help you learn and enjoy the material. Please don't hesitate to reach out to the staff for any questions or concerns. We are here to help you however we can. Welcome to CS 88!

Resources for Berkeley Students

Should you find yourself in need of help, beyond just the topics of CS88, the course staff are more than happy to help you access resources of all kinds. UC Berkeley has many resources, whether it's food assistance, counseling, or tutoring, we'll do our best to get you what you need.

Center for Access to Engineering Excellence (CAEE)

The Center for Access to Engineering Excellence (227 Bechtel Engineering Center) is an inclusive center that offers study spaces, nutritious snacks, and tutoring in >50 courses for Berkeley engineers and other majors across campus. The Center also offers a wide range of professional development, leadership, and wellness programs, and loans iclickers, laptops, and professional attire for interviews.

Disabled Students’ Program (DSP)

The [Disabled Student’s Program]dsp serves students with disabilities of all kinds. Services are individually designed and based on the specific needs of each student as identified by DSP’s Specialists.

Counseling and Psychological Services

The main University Health Services Counseling and Psychological Services staff is located at the Tang Center )(2222 Bancroft Way; 642-9494) and provides confidential assistance to students managing problems that can emerge from illness such as financial, academic, legal, family concerns, and more.

To improve access for engineering students, a licensed psychologist from the Tang Center also holds walk-in appointments for confidential counseling in 241 Bechtel Engineering Center (Schedule).

The Care Line (PATH to Care Center)

The [Care Line]care is a 24/7, confidential, free, campus-based resource for urgent support around sexual assault, sexual harassment, interpersonal violence, stalking, and invasion of sexual privacy. The Care Line will connect you with a confidential advocate for trauma-informed crisis support including time-sensitive information, securing urgent safety resources, and accompaniment to medical care or reporting.

Ombudsperson for Students

The [Ombudsperson for Students]ombuds provides a confidential service for students involved in a University-related problem (academic or administrative), acting as a neutral complaint resolver and not as an advocate for any of the parties involved in a dispute. The Ombudsman can provide information on policies and procedures affecting students, facilitate students’ contact with services able to assist in resolving the problem, and assist students in complaints concerning improper application of University policies or procedures. All matters referred to this office are held in strict confidence. The only exceptions, at the sole discretion of the Ombudsman, are cases where there appears to be imminent threat of serious harm.

UC Berkeley Food Pantry

The [UC Berkeley Food Pantry]pantry aims to reduce food insecurity among students and staff at UC Berkeley, especially the lack of nutritious food. Students and staff can visit the pantry as many times as they need and take as much as they need while being mindful that it is a shared resource. The pantry operates on a self-assessed need basis; there are no eligibility requirements. The pantry is not for students and staff who need supplemental snacking food, but rather, core food support.