CS 150 Syllabus, Fall 2022

The ISO C++ logo.

Hello! Welcome to the Orange Coast College CS 150 information page. We are offering four sections of CS 150 this semester. CS 150 is a second semester programming class for Computer Science and Engineering majors who intend to transfer to a 4-year university.

To enroll in CS 150 you must first complete CS 170 (Java Programming) or CS 131 (Python Programming) here at OCC, or apply for a prerequisite waiver. You'll find more information on the prerequisite below.

Who, Where, and When

The following four sections of CS 150 are taught in-person on the OCC Campus:

Each class meeting period consists of lecture, hands-on demonstration, programming exams and written exams. You must attend the lecture; it is not optional. If you have a scheduling conflict, please change to a different section.

Instructor Contact Information

What is CS 150 All about?

Here's the official course description from the OCC catalog:

A first course in the ANSI/ISO Standard C++ programming language. Topics include data types, strings, operators, expressions, control flow, storage classes, input/output, functions, pointers, arrays, preprocessor, file I/O, standard library routines, function overloading, object construction and inheritance, object-oriented design and recursion.

May be taken for a grade or on a credit/no-credit basis. Three and one-half hours lecture, one and one-half hours non-lecture.


At OCC prerequisites are enforced for Computer Science classes. You can be cleared in the registration system for enforced Prerequisites and Co-Requisites in one of three ways:

What's CS 150 Really About?

Computer Science 150 is a course in computer programming that uses the ANSI/ISO C++ programming language to teach structured and object-based programming techniques.

There are several reasons why you might want to take CS 150:

A computer programming course really has two parts. The first part is simply learning the syntax or grammar that a particular language uses. You need to learn the specific keywords and control structures used by each language, as well as the common idioms used to express generic computer algorithms.

The second part, however, is really more interesting. At its heart, a course in computer programming is a course in thinking and problem solving. It is also a lot of fun. Fred Brooks, the father of modern software engineering, lists five reasons why programming is fun:

  1. Because of the sheer joy of making things. "As the child delights in his mud pie, so the adult enjoys building things, especially things of his own design."
  2. Because of the pleasure of making things that are useful to other people.
  3. Because of the fascination of building complex, puzzle-like objects. "The programmed computer has all the fascination of the pinball machine or the jukebox mechanism, carried to the ultimate."
  4. Because of the joy of always learning new things. Programming is ever new.
  5. Because of the delight of working in such a tractable medium. As Brooks put it:

    The programmer, like the poet, works only slightly removed from pure thought-stuff. He builds his castles in the air, from air, creating by exertion of the imagination...Yet the program construct, unlike the poet's words, is real in the sense that it moves and works, producing visible outputs separate from the construct itself. It prints results, draws pictures, produces sounds, moves arms. The magic of myth and legend has come true in our time. One types the correct incantation on a keyboard, and a display screen comes to life, showing things that never were nor could be.

    Programming then is fun because it gratifies creative longings built deep within us and delights sensibilities we have in common with all men.

      --Frederick P. Brooks, Jr, The Mythical Man Month, 2nd Ed.

Goals and Outcomes

The ANSI/ISO C++ programming language is a multi-paradigm language. That means it can be used to write computer programs using several different methodologies or techniques. In this course, C++ Programming I, you will:

In CS 250, (C++ Programming II, the course that follows this course), you will study more advanced object-oriented and generic programming methods, as well as more of the C++ Standard Template Library. You'll also learn to use the functional LISP programming dialect called Scheme (or Racket).

To help you master these new programming techniques, you will be writing a lot of programs. Each week you will read two chapters in the CS 150 Course Reader, and then complete several programming exercises for each Chapter. In addition, each week you will complete several programing homework assignments, and take a reading quiz to assess your understanding.

It is important that you actually do the homework and reading exercises. In addition we encourage you to write small programs on your own to explore the language. You cannot passively absorb the material, and expect to pass the class; you must "learn by doing".

The purpose of these programming assignments—and the goals of the course—are that you:


Upon successful completion of the course, you will be able to:

The Student Learning Outcomes or SLOs for CS 150 describe things you are expected to be able to do. After completing this class you'll be able to:

  1. Use C++ to solve various problems that incorporate the use of correct data types, arrays, vectors, loops, branching, operators, functions, recursion, dynamic memory allocation and sequential file I/O concepts.
  2. Use C++ to solve various problems that use object-oriented methodology by defining classes and using inheritance and polymorphism.

How can you succeed in CS 150?

CS 150 is organized a little bit differently from other classes you may have taken. In a "traditional" classroom, you come to class and listen to me talk about a particular topic for an hour or two. If you're like me, you often won't really understand the material once the lecture is over. To master each topic, you go home, read the textbook, and try and make sense of all of the "hard stuff". Then, to see if you know the hard stuff, you complete several programming assignments (homework). Finally, to show me that you've mastered the material, I give you an exam.

Of course, this is the way that college courses have worked since the middle ages. Since then, though, there have been some great innovations. First, we had the printing press, so that knowledge could be encoded in books; you no longer had to "Trust the Monk" for every piece of information.

With Amazon, you can purchase "knowledge" and have it downloaded to your Kindle or delivered to your door in a day. What that means is, you don't have to try and find an expert in a topic; you can read a book and analyze it yourself. If all that happens in lecture is that I summarize or re-phrase what is said in the book, what purpose does that serve?

This "traditional" way of teaching makes it pretty easy for me to teach the class, but it's really not the best way for you to learn the material. That's because the only time you really interact with me (the "expert" after all), is when you don't know enough to ask any questions. By the time you get to the hard stuff, you're on your own.

Moving to the 21st Century Classoom

In this class, we we'll do things a little bit differently. My goal is to give you more opportunities to get feedback on your learning from the "expert" (that's me ).

Since you are intelligent, and you can buy access to the basics of the knowledge needed for this class in the form of the textbook, I'll ask you to get your first exposure to the material by reading the book (or other assigned resources) and gaining an understanding of the "basics" for yourself.

To help you out, I'll provide you with a set of self-check questions in the form of a pre-lecture quiz that must be completed before each lecture section. Here's what our revised model looks like: Now, you might be wondering "why a quiz before the lecture?" There are a few reasons:

  1. It gives you an excuse to read the book and do the homework. I know that all of your are busy people, and by giving you "points" for taking the quiz and doing the homework, I'm giving you and incentive to fit class preparation into your busy schedule.
  2. You should ACE every quiz. Quizzes are over the basic information from the textbook—getting all the questions on the quiz right let's you know you learned enough from reading to engage and learn in "lecture".

During lecture, I'll be presenting some of the "hard stuff" which students often struggle with or which the book doesn't explain in detail. (After all, I do have years of experience with students making the same mistakes over and over again.) Sometimes I will "explain things" in a way that looks like lecture, but much of the time, I will be letting you test your understanding and deepen your understanding—by presenting a question for you to solve, and having you discuss it in a team of your peers, to make sure you really do get it.

Instead of using "clickers" to answer these questions (which are physical devices you have to purchase and remember to bring to class), we'll be using a software program which you can access from your class computer. For each question I ask, you will vote on your answer, so I can adapt what we do in class to address issues you are not sure about.

Finally in lab and with homework, you'll have a chance to practice your mastery of the material. And then, I'll let you show me how much you have mastered by taking several proficiency exams.

This process is based around giving you the opportunity to get access to expert help and explanation, when you need it; not leaving you alone at night when you are doing your homework.

It is also based in research on "how people learn". Researchers have shown that people each construct their own understanding—individually. It's not really possible for me to "dump" or transmit understanding into your brain. Each of you is a unique individual, and you will each need to work and construct your own understanding.

How much time will you have to spend on CS 150?

Everybody learns in different ways and at different speeds. CS 150 is a 4-unit class, designed to take 216 hours to complete, (if you want a B/C) grade. This works out to about 14.5 hours a week. You'll spend about five of those hours in-person with your instructor, which leave you with about 9.5 hours on your own. If you're a good student or you're satisfied with a lower grade, you may get by with less. If you have difficulty with the material, or if you want to receive an A in the course, you'll probably have to spend more time.

You'll find that the material in CS 150 is very sequential. You can't really succeed by staying up all night every Sunday and "cramming". Instead, you need to budget your time. Spend a couple hours every day, one hour reading the Course Reader, and one hour working on the exercises and homework assignments. Spreading out your time will really help you to absorb the material better and quicker. For most students, the best way to learn to program is to actually write programs.


Two chapters in the CS 150 Course Reader will be assigned for each week in the class. Each chapter is accompanied by a set of short, hands-on exercises. You must read the chapter and do the exercises before the next live-online lecture.

Your instructor will preview the topics covered in the next chapter, but will not "read the textbook" to you. To make sure you've read the material, each week you will complete a reading quiz which you'll answer on Canvas. You will normally have 30 minutes to answer 30 questions. (The short time is to make sure you are answering the questions based on your reading, and not looking up the answers.) You can take each quiz twice, and your highest score is recorded.

Programming & Written Examinations

Programming is a skill to be mastered. To make sure that you've mastered the programming topics, you'll take ten hands-on programming exams. These are closed-book, closed-notes, programming exams where you will be asked to demonstrate your proficiency with different aspects of C++.

You will have 45 minutes for each exam, strictly timed. The programming exams will be given during the in-person class meetings.

There will also be four written exams—three midterms and a final. The written exams may have both multiple-choice questions as well as short-answer and fill-in type questions. The written exams will be given in class.

If your final exam percentage grade is greater than your average midterm exam percentage, then the final exam (percentage) score will replace your midterm score.

All exams will take place during the regular class sessions.

What about programming assignments?

How not to learn the tuba. Learning to program is a lot like learning to play the tuba; you'll never be any good unless you practice. To help you do this, you'll spend most of your out of class time, and a portion of each class period, writing programs. Each week you'll complete several different programming problems from the material we've covered that week.

You'll complete these programming assignments as you read the textbook. Often the textbook will go over the solution, so you should be able to get 100% on the homework if you put in the time.

You must complete each assignment by its due date. You cannot makeup missed homework assignments after the fact. (You can work ahead, however.) You'll generally receive a with a test program, so you can "grade" yourself after you've finished the problem. If you do poorly on a problem, you can read through the solution, and then rewrite and re-grade your solution. When you rewrite your program, don't refer to the posted solution—that way you'll make sure you really understand how to write it.

When you are finished with each homework assignment, you'll submit a "completion code" generated by the test program.

Class Discussion

One of the greatest learning resources at your disposal are the other students you'll meet in this class. Turning to StackOverflow (or Google) for help with your questions is not the best way to get them answered. The answer you receive (if any) is often wrong. Instead, take advantage of the fact that you have forty (or more) students who are facing exactly the same problems, and asking exactly the same questions you are asking.

To encourage you to help each other, use the Canvas discussion area to ask all of your technical questions, instead of sending an email message. Let's keep email for "personal" correspondence—things like "I'll be missing class this Tuesday", instead of questions like "Why do I get this error message when I compile?" If you ask these types of questions on the discussion board, you'll help all the other students who are having the same problem, but didn't think to ask. (Your instructor will answer questions posted on the discussion board, after your fellow students have had an opportunity to respond. Your instructor also reads all of the messages on the discussion board.)

Class announcements and general tips will also be posted on Canvas, as well as resources such as slides and starter files. Make sure you enable notifications in Canvas so you don't miss any announcements or discussions.

How will I be graded?

You may take this course for a grade, or on a P/NP basis. If you take the course for pass/no-pass, you must obtain a score equivalent to a "C" to get credit. (If you're transferring, though, make sure that the institution you're transferring to will accept P/NP; most institutions won't if it's a requirement for your major.) To receive a P/NP grade, you simply make a selection using MyOCC. (You no longer have to go to the Admissions and Records office.) However there is still a cutoff deadline to make your selection.

Cautionary Note: starting in 2019, UCI requires CS admits to get at least a B in every lower-division course in the major. If you are a CS major, and you intend to transfer to a UC, and you don't have at least a B at the drop deadline, you probably should take a W and try again later.

Grades will be assigned based on the following weights:

10 hands-on Programming Exams (40 points each) 400
Three written midterm exams 150
Written Final Exam 150
Weekly Reading Exercises 100
Programming Homework Assignments 100
Weekly Reading Quizzes 50
In-Class Exercise Documents 50

Letter grades cutoff percentages: 90%->A, 78%->B, 62%->C 50%->D

There will be no additional curve or extra-credit.

What textbook and software will I need?

The C++ Primer & the C++ Programming Language. The reading for this class will be the CS 150 Course Reader which to which will be available for free on Canvas. If you want a printed reference text, I recommend two of them.

Stanley Lippmann's C++ Primer, 5th Edition. This covers the features in the new C++11 standard. The bookstore will have a few copies of the book; you can also get it at Amazon for about $40.

The definitive reference is Bjarne Stroustrup's C++ Programming Language. Make sure you get the 4th Edition, which covers C++ 11. On Amazon (today, right before Christmas), it was also $40, but I paid $60 for mine earlier in the year. On Canvas, I have a link to an early draft of the first five chapters, which was published separately as A Tour of C++.

For those of you who feel the need for a little refresher, I've also posted a link to an alternative CS1 C++ textbook on the Canvas home page.


This semester we will be teaching the course using the UNIX/Linux cloud-based servers provided by Harvard's CS50 infrastructure. We be using GitHub Codespaces for our IDE. You will be able to log into your codespace from any computer and will not have to have any software installed locally.

You will set up and configure these accounts during the first class meeting.

What are the "rules" for this course?

You must turn your homework programming problems by the due date. You may turn in quizzes, reading exercises, and lecture-lab exercises late for a penalty of 1% per hour. There will be two "makeup" days (after the midterm and after the final) where you can take up to four of the programming exams you missed, (or retake those you did poorly on.) These makeup exams will be at your normal class meeting time.

If your percentage score on your written final exam is better than your combined midterm percentage, I'll "throw out" the midterm score, and use your final exam only for calculating the written exam portion of your final grade.

Attendance and Withdrawal

I will take attendance, and you are expected to be in class. If you miss two consecutive weeks of class sessions, you may be dropped without notice. Don't assume, though, that you will be automatically dropped if you fail to come to class. It is your responsibility to withdraw from any class. If you stop attending, yet fail to withdraw, you will receive a grade of 'F'.

Please pay special attention to the OCC drop deadlines. Every semester I have students who want to drop the class after the deadline to drop has already passed. Those students end up getting an 'F' in the class if they are unable to complete the coursework. I do not give Incomplete grades.

Academic Honesty

Programming by its nature relies on learning from the work of others. You are encouraged to examine each other's code and to discuss various approaches and coding styles. You won't really learn anything, though, if you don't "try it yourself".

In this regard, discussing the general method used to solve a problem is certainly encouraged. Taking another student's source code and modifying it is really counter-productive; you learn to program by working out the programming exercises and assignments. If you don't do the assignments yourself, you won't learn how to program, and you won't be able to pass the programming exams.

When it comes to testing time, I expect you to maintain a high level of academic honesty. Cheating on exams will result in course failure.

Disruptive Behavior

You are entitled to an environment that encourages learning, as are all your fellow students. You should not behave in a manner that negatively impacts other class members. In a classroom, such behavior includes hostile behavior such as yelling and screaming, as well as interrupting other students and attempting to inappropriately dominate the classroom. In our "online classroom", disruptive behavior includes "flaming" or harassing email, as well as posting offensive material on the class discussion board.

I expect all of you to be polite, respectful, and helpful to your fellow students; in short, I expect you to act like adults should act. If, in my judgment, your behavior negatively impacts the rest of the class, you may be subject to disciplinary action.


If you have a disability that may impede your ability to successfully complete this course, you should contact the Disabled Student's Center (432-5807 or 432-5604 TDD) not later than the first week of the course. Their staff will assist you in arranging accommodations that can help you meet course requirements.

Reservation of Rights

I reserve the right to change this syllabus, including, without limitation, these policies, without prior notice.