From face-to-face to online instruction

This page contains all the updates due to the transition to online teaching. Please read the entire document carefully and let me know if you have any questions, by posting a note on Piazza.

Updated announcements - April 10

After compiling the survey comments, I have decided to make a few more changes to the course. Please read this document, which includes my response to your concerns.


As we have discussed in the past, the CS department has had many conversations regarding changing all CS courses to Pass/Fail. It seems unlikely that this process will be approved, at least not in a uniform way. I understand the delay of this decision has brought anxiety to many students. For that reason, I am making the decision I think is better for CS 357. We will NOT move to Pass/Fail. I will continue to award letter grades, however, with modified grade thresholds.

New grade cutoffs

With all the changes to schedule, lecture and quiz delivery, the +/- distinctions feel unnecessarily arbitrary. I decided to remove the +/- distinctions, without raising the thresholds for the letter grade. The updated cutoffs are:

Grade Point Range
A >= 87%
B [77%, 87%)
C [60%, 77%)
F < 60%

I will continue to reserve the right to lower these thresholds further should the global situation develop in more unforeseen ways.

Grade Breakdown


No change in the homework schedule: 100% deadline remains the last day of classes, and 105% deadline is usually one week after the release of the homework.

We will not have additional “short-question” assignments this semester.

CBTF Quizzes

At this time, you have completed 3 quizzes at CBTF. These will count towards 15% of your final grade.

Final Exam

Based on the survey results, I decided to keep the final exam contribution as 30%. The final exam will be taken remotely via PrairieLearn. The exam will be open-book, and follow the CS honors code and UIUC Academic Integrity policies.

The final exam is scheduled using the Non-Combined UIUC schedule:

Students will only be able to have access to the online final exam during the slot assigned to the section in which they are registered. If you feel you have a valid reason to request to take the final exam during the other time slot, you will need to make this request before April 17th, using the portal for excused absence (we will be processing final exam conflict requests using this same portal). Make sure to attach any documentation that validates your request.

“Take-home” Online Quizzes

To help you prepare for the final exam, and keep track of course content and learning, I will be offering two take-home online quizzes via PrairieLearn. These quizzes will be open-book, and follow the CS honors code and UIUC Academic Integrity policies. Together, they will count towards 15% of your final grade.

The quizzes will be offered during lecture time: they will become available at 2:30pm (Central time), and close at 4:30pm (Central Time).

Quizzes will have a time limit of 60 minutes, similar to the CBTF quizzes. Students that had previous DRES accommodations at the CBTF will have their adjusted extended time as well.

Note that all quizzes will automatically close at 4:30pm (even if you didn’t reach your time limit yet).

To make sure you are ready to take these online quizzes and final exam, we will offer a practice quiz on March 31 at the following times: 2am, 8am, 2pm, 4pm, 8pm. Each one of these quizzes will be available for a total of 90 minutes, but students will have a time limit of 50 minutes to complete the quiz (students with DRES accommodation will have their time limit modified).

Students can open this quiz at any of the four available times (or even all of them). This will not be a full quiz (expect 3-4 questions only) and it will not count towards your grade. This will be a great opportunity to:

Reviewing Quizzes

You can post questions about your quiz on Piazza, but please do not post screen shots! You can also bring questions to the online office hours.

Missing Quizzes

Illnesses or emergencies should follow the policies outlined by the Office of the Dean of Students.

In all cases you must fill out the excused absence request form and upload the appropriate documentation.


If you have accommodations identified by the Division of Rehabilitation-Education Services (DRES), please let me know how I can better assist you.


Lectures will be delivered in two formats:

  1. Pre-recorded lectures (also known as asynchronous lectures): I will be posting pre-recorded videos corresponding to all the remaining topics (eigenvalues, nonlinear system of equations, optimization, …). You will find a link to these videos in the lecture schedule page.

  2. Zoom lectures (also knows as synchronous lectures): I will be offering interactive classes using Zoom meetings. These classes will not follow traditional lecture delivery (you can watch the asynchronous videos for that). Instead, we will together solve examples using IPython notebooks. I will be offering these classes once a week, only in one of the time slots (check the lecture schedule page). The asynchronous lectures will also be recorded and made available to all students in the class.

Join the synchronous lectures via Zoom:

I will continue to make annotated lectures and slides available on the course schedule page.

Due to difficulties uploading videos in ClassTranscribe, I will start using Mediaspace to share videos with students. You can continue using ClassTranscribe to watch previously recorded videos. Videos starting from the Eigenvalues topic will be posted on my MediaSpace channel

Office hours

We are making just a small change to the office hour schedule, in response to the survey results. You can find the updated schedule here.

Join Zoom Meeting:

Meeting ID: 335 177 359

My office hours will remain at the same time, and I will be using this zoom meeting link:

Coffee break

Since I am not teaching the synchronous lectures in both time slots, I will be offering a “chat meeting” during the slot where the lecture is canceled. This is not a “standard” office hours slot. You don’t need to have questions about HW or any course related concerns. Just join the meeting for a chat. We could choose a different topic for each week (I am open to suggestions!). We will use the same zoom link used for the lecture.

Coffee break schedule:

April 2: 2-3pm, April 9: 3:30-4:30pm, April 16: 2-3pm, April 28: 2:00-3:00pm