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Coding integrity

Example scenarios

You are encouraged to discuss approaches with other students but your code and your write-up must be your own. You may not use materials produced as course work by other students, whether in this trimester or previous trimesters, nor may you provide work for other students to use. 

It's good to help other students. But as a general rule, during the time that you are helping another student, your own solution should not be visible, either to you or to them. Make a habit of closing your laptop while you're helping. 

It's fine to use material from external sources like StackOerflow, but only with proper attribution, and only if the assignment allows it. In particular, if the assignment says "implement X," then you must create your own X, not reuse one from an external source.

Example 1

Alyssa and Ben sit next to each other with their laptops while working on a problem set. They talk in general terms about different approaches to doing the problem set. They draw diagrams on the whiteboard.

  • When Alyssa discovers a useful class in the Java library, she mentions it to Ben. When Ben finds a StackOverflow answer that helps, he sends the URL to Alyssa. OK.
  • As they type lines of code, they speak the code aloud to the other person, to make sure both people have the right code. INAPPROPRIATE.
  • In a tricky part of the problem set, Alyssa and Ben look at each other's screens and compare them so that they can get their code right. INAPPROPRIATE.

Example 2

Jerry already finished the problem set, but his friend Ben is now struggling with a nasty bug.

  • Jerry sits next to Ben, looks at his code, and helps him debug. OK.
  • Jerry opens his own laptop, finds his solution to the problem set, and refers to it while he's helping Ben correct his code. INAPPROPRIATE.

Example 3

Garrett had three problem sets and two quizzes this week, was away from campus for several days for a track meet, and then got sick. He's already taken two slack days on the deadline and has made almost no progress on the problem set.

  • Nick feels sorry for Garrett and wants to help, so he sits down with Garrett and talks with him about how to do the problem set while Garrett is working on it. Nick already handed in his own solution, but he doesn't open his own laptop to look at it while he's helping Garrett. OK.
  • Nick opens his laptop and reads his own code while he's helping Garrett. INAPPROPRIATE.
  • Nick has by now spent a couple hours with Garrett, and Louis still needs help, but Ben really needs to get back to his own work. He puts his code in a Dropbox and shares it with Louis, after Louis promises only to look at it when he really has to. INAPPROPRIATE.

Example 4

Max and Ellen both worked on their problem sets separately.

  • They exchange their test cases with each other to check their work. INAPPROPRIATE. Test cases are part of the material for the problem set, and part of the learning experience of the course. You are copying if you use somebody else's test cases, even if temporarily.

Note that in the examples marked inappropriate above, both people are held responsible for the violation in academic honesty. Copying work, or knowingly making work available for copying, in contravention of the academic honesty policy is a serious offense that may incur reduced grades, failing the course, and disciplinary action. 


Group work
You should collaborate with your partners on all aspects of group project work and in-class collaborative exercises, and each of you is expected to contribute a roughly equal share to design and implementation.

You may also use material from external sources, so long as: (1) the material is available to all students in the class; (2) you give proper attribution; and (3) the assignment itself allows it. In particular, if the assignment says "implement X" then you must create your own X, not reuse someone else's. Finally, your group may not reuse designs, ideas, or code created by another group, in this semester or previous semesters.

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