If you are tempted to use something which we have not covered in class

What you MUST do is ask your TA or Dr. Keen for permission to use it BEFORE the submission deadline. We will most likely say no. Not to "stifle your creativity"! Here are our reasons:

  1. The assignments are all designed to be done with the material that HAS been covered in class. That's actually their point, to exercise that material. There is never an expectation that the student will go on a "scavenger hunt" through the Internet for some exotic thing.
  2. If you think the problem cannot be done using just what is done in class, that is a red flag that tells you that there is something that has been done in class that you didn't understand. This means that you need to recheck your notes, the slides, the textbook and most importantly, ASK any TA or Dr. Keen! (Okay, it could also mean that I forgot something in the specification. In that case, letting me know about it ASAP will help everyone in the class!)
  3. You may indeed find some odd thing that works to solve the problem in Python. But you have hurt yourself in the long run. You need to understand the material covered in class - that IS going to be tested on. The odd thing that you found that was not covered in class will NOT be tested on.
  4. You may want to show off the fact that you can use the "power tools" of the language. That's good in that students should always be experimenting with problem solving. But can you solve the problem with the "hand tools" which are covered in class? Every programmer knows the adage of "Keep it Simple, Sam!" Unnecessary complexity just attracts more bugs. If you really would like to display your knowledge, write a version the simple way for submission. Write the fancy version and show it to your TA, Dr. Keen. We love to see new things about the language!
  5. By doing things in an unusual way, you are making it harder for your TA to grade your program. They have a checksheet (see the rubric) they have to go by, to be grading consistently all the programs in their section(s). If you give them more code to wade through to find the material they were supposed to grade, it does NOT help the process.
  6. Remember that if you found the material on the Net, someone else in the class can find it too! If the same odd thing shows up in multiple program submissions, without a reference, then they are investigated for plagiarism (per the syllabus).

I hope this has clarified the situation. We are working to grade all program submissions in a timely, consistent way. Sticking to the specifications of the problem when you write code will help us do this for you. Thank you.

Dr. Keen