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Fall 2009 students work together using pair programming

Fall 2009 students pair programming in Scratch.

Our new Mac lab

Our labs are held in the Apple Orchard, which has tons of natural light!

CS10: The Beauty and Joy of Computing, is an exciting new course offered by the UC Berkeley EECS Department. Computing has changed the world in profound ways. It has opened up wonderful new ways for people to connect, design, research, play, create, and express themselves. However, just using a computer is only a small part of the picture. The real transformative and empowering experience comes when one learns how to program the computer, to translate ideas into code. This course will teach students how to do exactly that using Snap! (based on Scratch), one of the friendliest programming languages ever invented. It's purely graphical, which means programming involves simply dragging blocks around, and building bigger blocks out of smaller blocks.

But this course is far more than just learning to program. We'll focus on some of the "Big Ideas" of computing, such as abstraction, design, recursion, concurrency, simulations, and the limits of computation. We'll show some beautiful applications of computing that have changed the world, talk about the history of computing, and where it will go in the future. Throughout the course, relevance will be emphasized: relevance to the student and to society. As an example, the midterm and final projects will be completely of the students' choosing, on a topic most interesting to them. The overarching theme is to expose students to the beauty and joy of computing. This course is designed for computing non-majors, although interested majors are certainly welcome to take the class as well! We are especially excited about bringing computing (through this course) to traditionally under-represented groups in computing, i.e., women and ethnic minorities. We are proud that we regularly have more than 50% female enrollment (with a high of 60% in the Spring of 2017), and the national exposure the course has received in the New York Times, KQED, NPR's All Things Considered, USA Today, San Jose Mercury News, San Francisco Chronicle, and many others.

Some context: in the Fall of 2009, we piloted a 2-unit version of this course as the freshman/sophomore seminar CS39N: The Beauty and Joy of Computing to 20 students. It was such a success that we decided to move ahead to make this course our new computing course for non-majors, replacing the venerable CS3L and CS3S . Since then, this has been one of the most popular courses in EECS. Don't believe us? See for yourself! We're continuing to grow the course as word spreads to more students. We're continually replacing the weakest parts of the curriculum and hope you'll enjoy!

We will be using Pair Programming, described best by Laurie Williams, a computer science professor at North Carolina State University: "Two programmers working side-by-side, collaborating on the same design, algorithm, code or test. One programmer, the driver, has control of the keyboard/mouse and actively implements the program. The other programmer, the observer, continuously observes the work of the driver to identify tactical (syntactic, spelling, etc.) defects and also thinks strategically about the direction of the work. On demand, the two programmers can brainstorm any challenging problem. Because the two programmers periodically switch roles, they work together as equals to develop software."

Assignment Calendar

Semester Schedule (subject to change)

Reading Assignments Key:
  • Non-italicized readings are required,
  • Italicized readings are optional but recommended. Note that these readings are NOT tested.
Week Dates Readings Lectures Labs Discussions Due Dates/Notes
1 6/18 to 6/22 Introduction to Abstraction
Learning to Code!
Program or Be Programmed
Is Abstraction the Key to Computing?
Scratch: Programming for All
Welcome and Abstraction 1. Welcome to Netsblox! Welcome to CS10! (Solutions)
Building Blocks 2. Build Your Own Blocks
Introduction to Binary 3. Conditionals and Reporters Functions, Procedures, and Boolean Logic (Solutions)
Lists and Higher-Order Functions (HOFs) 4. Abstraction
2 6/25 to 6/29 What is an Algorithm? (Excerpts)
How Algorithms Shape Our World
The 10 Algorithms that Dominate Our World
The Real 10 Algorithms that Dominate Our World
The Story of Alan Turing and His Machine
Scoping & Mutability 5. Lists The Power of Binary (Solutions)
Programming Paradigms 6. Tic-Tac-Toe, Boards
Algorithms HW2 Work Session Lists, Mutability, and HOFs (Solutions)
Algorithmic Complexity 7. Algorithms
3 7/2 to 7/6 Introduction to Test-Driven Development
How an Entire Nation Became a Test Lab for Cyberwar
Cyberspace After Snowden
Present Shock - When Everything Happens Now
Testing 8. Algorithmic Complexity Complexity and Paradigms (Solutions)
Cyberpolitics 9. Testing + HW3
No Lecture No Lab No Discussion
Recursion 1 HW3 Work Session
4 7/9 to 7/13 Computer Scientists May Have What it Takes to Cure Cancer
How Coders Can Help Fight Climate Change
E-Waste Republic
Thomas Sterling Supercomputing Interview
DeepMind Reduces Google's Data Center Cooling Bill
Recursion 2 10. Trees and Fractals Using Recursion Introduction to Recursion (Solutions)

Guest Lecture: Kathy Yelick

Saving the World With Computing
11. Recursive Reporters

Guest Lecture: Maxson Yang

Computing and the Environment
12. Concurrency More Recursion (Solutions)
Concurrency Midterm Project Work Session
5 7/16 to 7/20 A World Without Work
Humans Need Not Apply
Midterm Exam In-Lab Midterm Midterm Review
Procedures as Data 13. Finch Lab (Extra Credit)
Object-Oriented Programming (OOP) 14. Functions as Data and HOFs Functions as Data (Solutions)

Guest Lecture: Anwar Baroudi

Artificial Intelligence
Social Implications Session 1
6 7/23 to 7/27 Algorithms Are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives
The Era of Blind Faith in Big Data Must End
Many Prison Inmates' Futures Depend on Racially Biased Algorithms
Hacker Comments on "Algorithms Are Great and All..."
Algorithmic Life
Python 1: Introduction Midterm Project Work Session Project Design
Python 2: Data Structures 15. Besides Blocks: Welcome to Python
Algorithmic Bias 16. Besides Blocks: Data Structures in Python Introduction to Python (Solutions)
CS10 Alumni Panel Final Project Work Session
7 7/30 to 8/3 With Big Data, Comes Big Responsibility
The Rise of Human-Computer Cooperation
Google is Sorry its Sentiment Analyzer is Biased
Python 3: Data Science 17. Besides Blocks: Text Processing in Python Dictionaries and Recursion in Python (Solutions)
Python 4: OOP 18. Besides Blocks: Data Science with Python

Guest Lecture: Nick Adams

Natural Language Processing
19. Besides Blocks: OOP in Python List Comprehensions and Lambda Functions (Solutions)

Guest Lecture: Amy Pavel

Human-Computer Interaction (HCI)
Final Project Work Session
8 8/6 to 8/10 In Cramped and Costly Bay Area, Cries to Build, Baby, Build
Massive Disruption is Coming With Quantum Computing
Quantum Computing is the Next Big Security Risk
P vs. NP and the Computational Complexity Zoo
Limits of Computing Social Implications Session 2 OOP in Python
Future of Computing Final Project Work Session
Conclusion and Farewell Final Exam Study Session Farewell and Final Review
Final Exam In-Lab Final

Weekly Schedule

This calendar displays the class schedule for the current week. Click on any event to see the building location on a map.



Teaching Assistants


Lab Assistants


Grade Breakdown

For the most part, we would prefer to teach this course without grades. What a wonderful concept, learning for learning sake! However, even though we can't change the "system" overnight, we can create grading policies that support learning as much as possible. The various course activities will contribute to your grade as follows:

Activity Points Percent of Total Grade
Lab Check-Offs 30 6%
Homework 1 (Mastermind Intro) 15 3%
Homework 2 (Mastermind) 30 6%
Homework 3 (2048) 30 6%
Midterm Project 60 12%
Social Implications Session 1 25 5%
Social Implications Session 2 30 6%
Final Programming Project 80 16%
Midterm 100 20%
Final Exam 100 20%
Total Points 500 100%

How We'll Calculate Your Grade

Your letter grade will be determined by total course points, as shown in the table below. Incomplete grades will be granted only for dire medical or personal emergencies that cause you to miss the final exam, and only if your work up to that point is satisfactory.

Points Grade
485-500 A+
460-484 A
450-459 A-
440-449 B+
420-439 B
400-419 B-
375-399 C+
360-374 C
350-359 C-
300-349 D
< 299 F