Welcome to CS50. My name is Javid D. Malan, but if ‘Malan’ is too hard to pronounce, you can just call me your one-way, all-expense-paid trip on the choo-choo train to knowledge-town. It doesn’t take a man who can rip a Yellow Pages in half with his bare, muscular hands to know that CS50 saw quite a bit of Missy ‘Misdemeanor’ Elliot last semester. As a result, I’m afraid I’m going to have to pull out the big guns. Prepare your pickles, humble ne’er-do-wells, for my updated course policy.
If you are enrolled in my class, you actually have to come to my lectures. No longer can you be in my class and not be in my class. This isn’t Schrödinger’s Class, Bubble Bass. This is CS50™. And don’t be too intimidated to show up. Last fall, of the 636 students who enrolled in CS50, an average of 3.4 students actually attended each lecture. Of those 3.4 students, at least two were confirmed by a questionable source to be paid Romanian actors. The other 1.4 were dead. Within that group of Romanian actors and legally dead people, 2.166 had zero prior coding experience.
Problem sets, as always, are worth 45 percent of your grade. Exams, 30 percent of your grade. Containing some sort of ‘life essence’ as defined by Hans Driesch in his seminal 1899 work “Die Lokalisation morphogenetischer Vorgänge Ein Beweis vitalistischen Geschehens,” 10 percent. And of course, the final project is 15 percent of your grade. You may notice some slight changes from last year, notably that your exams are now collectively worth 30 percent of your grade instead of the usual 40 percent.
You may have heard that CS50 was home to a pretty widespread cheating scandal last semester. You won’t be hearing that anymore, or my name isn’t Javid D. Malan. Our new collaboration policy in CS50 is simple: be reasonable. Here are some examples. If you’re working on a problem set and you ask your best friend what his thought process is for question four, is that reasonable? I might be inclined to say so. If you’re working on that very same problem set and you ask your best friend to answer question four for you in its entirety, is that reasonable? Probably not. If you're working on a problem set and you lean in real close to your best friend, the dewy condensation from your just-Listerine’d breath speckling the nape of his neck, and whisper that you have his life’s destiny sitting neatly in the palm of your hand, ready to crack down on his every ambition like the expertly-painted teeth on a Turkish nutcracker doll during the Yuletide cheer preparing to shatter the once-durable shell of his walnut of self-worth, and that all of his troubles would disappear in a flash should he help you with question four—is that reasonable? Probably.This new and improved syllabus may seem overwhelming—and it really, really is. Nonetheless, I assure you that these changes to the structure of my course aren’t meant to intimidate you. But I swear to the sweet, succulent lord: If any one of you rugrats jeopardizes my course with your shantytown shenanigans just one more futhermucking time, not even Scratch week will save you. This is CS50. Start acting like it.