CMPSC 311, Announcements, Spring 2013

May 6

Project 5 scores are posted on ANGEL, with an explanation on the Projects web page.

Course grades are posted on eLion, with an explanation of ANGEL.

May 4

Final exam scores are posted on ANGEL, with the grading scale.

Project 8 scores are posted on ANGEL, with an explanation on the Projects web page.

On the way - Project 5 scores, final course grade.

April 30

One of my favorite web sites is The Daily WTF.  Here's an example:

April 26, 2013

The SRTE forms are now available on ANGEL, until Apr. 28.  So far, 46 out of 123 (as of Apr. 29).

April 24

Project 7 scores are posted on ANGEL.  Grading info is attached to the project paper.

April 22

Project 4 scores are posted on ANGEL.  Grading info is posted on the Projects page.

Project 7 is graded, and the scores will be posted later today.  The papers will be returned in class Wednesday and Friday.

April 19

Project 3 scores are posted on ANGEL.  Grading info is posted on the Projects page.

Some of the Project 7 scores are posted on ANGEL.

April 16

ACM meeting

Tomorrow (Wednesday) at 7 p.m. in 222 IST we'll be giving a
presentation entitled "So you think you know C?"  It will feature some of the more
obscure properties of the C language and common pitfalls to watch out for.  Whether
C is your favorite programming language or you've never written a line of C in your
life, some of the lesser known trivia is sure to catch you by surprise.  We won't
have pizza, but we will be rewarding participation with candy!

April 15

The SRTE forms are now available on ANGEL, until Apr. 28.

April 11

Project 8 is posted.

Apr. 2

Midterm Exam 2 grades and solution are posted on ANGEL.  We'll return the exams in class tomorrow.

Mar. 25

Project 7 is posted.

Mar. 22

Prof. Heller's office hours on Monday, Mar. 25, will be changed from 10:00-11:30 to 11:30-1:00.

Mar. 20 - two announcements on behalf of HackPSU, and the PSU ACM chapter,

HackPSU is a student-run hackathon held at Penn State University. Hackers
from universities all along the East Coast and Midwest will come together
to hack on web, mobile, and hardware applications for the 24-hour
competition. Students get the opportunity to show off their skills, meet
other students and connect with startups for jobs or internships.

If you have no prior knowledge, do not fear. This is a great chance to
learn something new & have a shot at winning awesome prizes while doing so.

*Sign up & see more details at*
Judges include Steve Huffman, co-founder of Reddit, David Rusenko, founder
of Weebly, and Justin Kan, co-founder of

There will be tons of free food!
*Prizes include:*
1st place- free trip to CA to tour the hottest start-ups in the valley,
meet the founders and VCs, hear interesting talks and of course attend some
awesome parties and networking events along with 100 other top hackers from
around the country.
2nd place - $1000
3rd place - $500
An Xbox, Surface and iPad Mini will also be given away.

Hey ACM! We'll be holding a hackathon preparation meeting Wednesday night at 7 p.m. in 222 IST. With HackPSU this weekend and HackPrinceton the weekend after that, we want to go over some tips and tricks for success at hackathons. We'll discuss how to come up with feasible project ideas, which platforms work well for hackathons, and look at some example projects from previous events. Pizza will be served. SEI Investments will also be at Wednesday's meeting to give a short presentation about their company and job opportunities. Like many companies, SEI is on campus this week for Spring Career Days. The technical career day is this Thursday, March 21, from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. at the Bryce Jordan Center. If you're looking for a summer/fall internship or co-op, be sure to attend.

Mar. 18

Today's CMPSC 311 class is cancelled; still trying to recover from pneumonia, and wimping out on the snow/ice forecast.

We'll continue the Process Control and Signals discussion on Wednesday, and shorten the Shell Scripts discussion next Monday.  Because of the lecture delays, Project 6 can be turned in on Monday, Mar. 25.

The second midterm exam will be as scheduled on Mar. 27; if you need to arrange for a conflict exam, send email to dheller at

Mar. 14

The Midterm Exam 1 scores and solution are posted on ANGEL.  We'll return the exams in class Friday Mar. 15.

Mar. 12

Project 6 is posted.  We'll discuss it in class Mar. 13.

Mar. 11

Registration for CodePSU, Penn State's own programming competition, is now open!  This event is co-hosted by the ACM and AWC clubs and is sponsored by Google, Microsoft, Accenture, Capital One, and Booz Allen Hamilton.

This semester's competition will take place on Saturday, March 16 from 1-6 p.m. in the Cybertorium (113 IST).  Complementary dinner by Rotelli's is provided at the end, and prizes valued up to $300 will be awarded to the top teams.

CodePSU is modeled after the ACM's International Collegiate Programming Contest (ICPC).  In teams of 1-3, you will have 4 hours to complete 10 problems.  These problems vary in difficulty, so this competition is appropriate for all undergraduate programming levels.  Team matching is available the day of the event, so be sure to register even if you don't have team members in mind.

Mar. 11

Today's CMPSC 311 class is cancelled, while I try to recover from pneumonia.

Feb. 25

Project 5 is posted.

Feb. 23

State Patty's Day has become a Penn State tradition.  It's long past the time to put an end to this stupid idea.  Get drunk on the actual St. Patrick's Day, if you insist on insulting the Irish with your bad behavior.

Feb. 22

Today's CMPSC 311 class is cancelled, while I try to recover from a hacking cough and fever.

We'll start the Unix System-Level I/O discussion on Monday, and compress the Files and Directories discussion on Mar. 1.  The notes are already posted.

Reminder - the Project 4 Dropbox will be open until Sunday night 11:55 pm.  Project 5 is to implement macro expansion in the Project 4 code, so a solution to Project 4 will be posted soon after the Dropbox closes.

Feb. 20

From the NY Times, Feb. 19, Chinese Army Unit Is Seen as Tied to Hacking Against U.S.
and Feb. 20, China Says Army Is Not Behind Attacks in Report

The evidence, from Mandiant -- APT1: Exposing One of China's Cyber Espionage Units (PDF, 76 pages)

From the NY Times, Jan. 31, Hackers in China Attacked The Times for Last 4 Months

Feb. 11

Project 4 is posted.

Feb. 5

Midterm Exam 1 review information is now posted.

Jan. 30

Project 3 is posted.

Jan. 28

Here is how to get onto the ACM TechNews mailing list.  First, if you prefer simple web access, just go to on a regular schedule.  For a subscription, create a myACM account (this does not require paid membership) at .  After registering, go to to change your email preferences and make sure you are subscribed to TechNews.

Jan. 25

From ACM TechNews,
Storing Digital Data in DNA
Wall Street Journal (01/24/13) Gautam Naik

Researchers seeking a biological solution to the world's ever-growing amount of
digital information have successfully encoded audio and text on fragments of DNA,
and later retrieved them with 99.99 percent accuracy.  The researchers note that DNA
could sit in a storage device for thousands of years without degrading.  Scientists
at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory's European Bioinformatics Institute
held an experiment in which they downloaded various audio and textual content onto a
computer and represented it as computer code.  A program then converted the code
into letters corresponding to DNA's four chemical bases, and segmented the code
string into about 150,000 fragments and indexed them.  A lab machine used the
information to generate DNA that was then fed into a sequencing machine, which read
back the DNA fragments as the letters A,C,G, and T.  The next step involved software
reassembling the DNA fragments in the proper order, converting them back to 1s and
0s that were interpreted as the original content file, which could be played back. 
The next challenge for DNA data storage is making the process more commercial and

MIT Scientists Achieve Molecular Data Storage Breakthrough TPM Idea Lab (01/23/13) Carl Franzen Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) researchers have developed a method for storing data on individual molecules at room temperature, which could lead to a 1,000-fold improvement in storage density. The method was demonstrated on a type of "supramolecule," which was created by binding graphene molecules to zinc atoms. "Each molecule is around one nanometer in dimension and hence this will let us achieve storage as high as 1,000 terabytes per square inch," says MIT's Jagadeesh Moodera. The researchers were able to get the molecules to store binary data by placing them between two electrodes, which were used to change the conductivity of the molecules between two states, representing the 1 and 0 of binary code. "The idea here is to be able to have more and more information available in your portable pocket device," says MIT's Karthik Raman. "Hence if such a work can make it to technology, with the existing size of our portable device we can store 1,000 times more information in the form of documents or music or high quality video files." The researchers believe their work could eventually lead to quantum computing and quantum bit memory.

Jan. 16

Project 2 is posted.

Jan. 4

We will hold a Unix/Linux kick-start session in 218 IST on
The idea is to cover basic login, edit and compile operations, as well as remote login.  Some of this will also be demonstrated in class.  Plan to attend one of these sessions even if you already have some experience with Unix or Linux.

We will pass around a sign-up list in the first class meeting, so you can pick which session to attend.  The room has only 30 computers, and we have 125+ students.  The Saturday sessions are mostly intended for late-comers and second-tries.

Some information about the CSE Dept. Linux systems --
More information is available under the General Instructions link on the course home page.

Watch for the description of the first programming project on the course home page under the Projects link. 

Jan. 3

Ubuntu on a smartphone -

Some reviews -

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