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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."

18 student testimonials about CS10!

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 Discussion Due Dates/Notes
1 8/20 to 8/24 No Readings No Lecture No Lab Snap! Scavenger Hunt (Solutions)
Welcome and Abstraction 1. Welcome to Snap!
2 8/27 to 8/31 Reading Quiz 1: Second lab of the week

Introduction to Abstraction
Learning to Code!
Is Abstraction the Key to Computing?
Scratch: Programming for All
Functions 2. Build Your Own Blocks Number Representation (Solutions)
Numbers and Abstraction 3. Conditionals and Reporters
3 9/3 to 9/7 Reading Quiz 2: Second lab of the week

What is an Algorithm?
How Algorithms Shape Our World
Algorithms are Great and All, But They Can Also Ruin Lives
Hacker News Comments on "Algorithms are Great and All..."
The 10 Algorithms That Dominate Our World
The real 10 algorithms that dominate our world
No Lecture 4. Abstraction Domain, Range, Lists, & HOFS (Solutions)
Lists and Scoping 5. Lists
4 9/10 to 9/14 No Readings Quest, 3-4PM. Check Piazza for room assignments. HW2 Work Session Scoping & Mutability (Solutions)
Algorithms 6. Algorithms
5 9/17 to 9/21 Reading Quiz 3: First lab of the week

Blown to Bits: Chapter 1
Algorithmic Complexity 7. Algorithmic Complexity Boolean Logic & Algorithmic Complexity (Solutions)

Guest Lecture: Mansi Shah

8. Concurrency
6 9/24 to 9/28 Reading Quiz 4: Second lab of the week

The End of Moore's Law
eWeek at 30: Multicore CPUs Keep Chip Makers in Step with Moore's Law
Testing + HW3 9. Testing + HW3 Concurrency & Programming Paradigms
Programming Paradigms HW3 Work Session
7 10/1 to 10/5 TBA Social Implications of Computing I 10. Tic-Tac-Toe, Boards Intro to Recursion
Recursion I 11. Trees and Fractals Using Recursion
8 10/8 to 10/12 TBA

Guest Lecture: Aaron Baker

Social Implications of Computing II
Midterm Project Work Session More Recursion
  • Midterm Project Proposal due 10/14
  • Midterm Project due 10/19

Guest Lecture: Bhumika Goel

Recursion II
12. Recursive Reporters
9 10/15 to 10/19 TBA Procedures as Data - Higher Order Functions 13. Functions as Data and HOFs Even More Recursion & Functions as Data
  • Midterm Project due 10/19

Guest Lecture: Kathy Yelick

Saving the World with Computing
Midterm Project Work Session
10 10/22 to 10/26 No Readings Midterm Exam Part I In-Lab Midterm Social Implications
Midterm Exam Part II 14. Finch Lab
11 10/29 to 11/2 Reading Quiz 8: first lab of the week

Why Python is a Great First Language
The GNU Manifesto Turns Thirty
Python vs. COBOL parody
Python I

Reading Quiz 8

15. Besides Blocks: Welcome to Python
Intro to Python
  • Final Project Proposal due 11/4
  • Explore Post due 11/7
  • Explore Post comments due 11/9
Python II 16. Besides Blocks: Data Structures in Python
12 11/5 to 11/9 TBA

Guest Lecture: Amy Pavel

Human Computer Interaction
Final Project Work Session Recursion & Dictionaries in Python
  • Explore Post due 11/7
  • Explore Post comments due 11/9
  • Final Project Milestone due 11/21
  • Final Project due 11/30
Python III 17. Besides Blocks: Text Processing in Python
13 11/12 to 11/16 TBA No Lecture 18. Besides Blocks: Data Science with Python List Comprehensions & Lambda Functions in Python
  • Final Project Milestone due 11/21
  • Final Project due 11/30

Guest Lecture: Angelina Wang and Laura Smith

Artifical Intelligence
Final Project Work Session
14 11/19 to 11/23 TBA

Guest Lecture: Schuyler Ross

Social Implications of Computing: Algorithmic Bias
Social Implications Session No Discussion
  • Final Project Milestone due 11/21
  • Final Project due 11/30
No Lecture No Lab
15 11/26 to 11/30 TBA Alumni Panel Final Project Work Session Farewell, Fun & Final Review
  • Final Project due 11/30
Conclusion In-Lab Final Exam
16 12/3 to 12/7 No Readings No Lecture No Lab No Discussion
  • Extra Credit BJC Artwork due at the Final
No Lecture No Lab
17 Paper Final Exam
Tuesday, 12/11/18, 7-10PM
Good luck!

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
Weekly Reading Quizzes 20 4%
Lab Check-Offs 30 6%
Homework 1 (Word Guessing) 10 2%
Homework 2 (Encryptify) 20 4%
Homework 3 (2048) 30 6%
Midterm Project 75 15%
Innovation Blog 40 8%
Final Programming Project 75 15%
Quest 25 5%
Midterm 75 15%
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