The Text

Probability and Statistics, by Morris H. DeGroot Mark J. Schervish, Pearson (ISBN-10: 0321500466 ISBN-13: 9780321500465). This is a new edition of this book.

Assignments (homework and labs)

There will be homework and labs assigned frequently during the term. No work can be accepted after the last day of class. Note that neither the final days nor the reading days are regular days of class. Once we get to the reading day, I can not accept any work.

After each homework or lab assignment, you will be asked at random to present your solution in class. Be prepared.

You are welcome to submit homework on paper or by e-mail. If you choose to submit on paper, please slide your work under my door (do NOT use the box by the side of my door, that is for my other class. If you submit by e-mail you are responsible for electronic submission, we will not be responsible for lost or misdirected e-mail.

Labs must be submitted electronically, see below.

The Wiki

News and updates will be posted to the class wiki, which serves as the class web site. Please use the comment facility there to discuss and give help for class assignments. Also place comments on the wiki if there are errors so that they may be quickly corrected.

Note that changes to class assignments, policies and due dates will be posted on the wiki. You can subscribe to changes if you want.

Working Together

As you know, cheating is not in line with the Honor Code. I will not tolerate it. Sometimes, however, there is a question as to whether a certain behavior is going to be deemed cheating. The policy in this class is a “no take away” policy. If you join together in groups to work out homework, the policy is that you take nothing away with you (physically) that you did not bring. In other words, you should not have new homework answers already written out when you leave that you did not have when you started you. Get together, discuss the homework, work out principles and concepts, but do not do it together. If there are further questions, please do not hesitate to ask. The policy is not there to cause pain, but to offer protection for the innocent. I try to be reasonable and will be happy to clarify or alter any ambiguous or stupid policies.

A notable exception to this rule is for labs. For the labs, you are strongly encouraged to work in a group of exactly two people. Some will be allowed to work alone, but that is discouraged considering the magnitude of the load in this class. Especially in this setting, learning is best facilitated when two work together. If you insist on working alone, please do not complain about the work load.


There will be several labs assigned during the course. The labs come in rapid succession and are nontrivial, so do not delay. Get started on them immediately. Check the wiki frequently, as updates and useful information will appear almost daily. Also check the discussion tab for unofficial help with assignments.

Most of the concepts covered will have an associated lab. It is thus very important that you understand the labs fully, since those will be an important part of your practice for the final exam. They have been designed to be useful and to have direct relevance to the concepts you are learning. Extraneous circumstances will be mercifully considered, provided that they are not self-made emergencies that occur on or after the due date.

Code the Labs in any language you find convenient and on any OS you like. Obviously, if you find a language or library that does the work of the lab, you may not use it. That is, if the lab is on the EM algorithm, you may not use a library that implements EM!

Individual Project

Unlike the other Labs, the MCMC project is to be done as an individual, not as a group.


All lab except the MCMC project are intended to be done as a group of 2 people. Please avoid the temptation to work alone on the labs, as they are very involved and require more effort and thought than one person will generally have the time and energy to give them. Working in pairs will also enhance your learning a great deal. Groups larger than two will be very strongly discouraged, unless we have an odd number of students in the class but no foolish souls that want to work alone.

As you work together, make sure that each member of the team is carrying equal weight and understanding all of the concepts. If labor is divided, take the time to make sure that both team members have complete understanding of everything involved. When submitting your writeup, indicate which person did which parts, and how much time was spent.

Submitting Labs

Please submit your lab work electronically. You can use my e-mail (given in class). Please make sure your write-up is a PDF. An electronic submission of code is required for each lab.

Lab grading

30% of your score will be for the quality of your approach. 70% for correctly implementing and running the lab. You are responsible for producing a report that shows what you have accomplished. If I can not tell that you did it or did it right, you will lose points. In some cases you will have to think about what constitutes the “answer” and how you might most effectively show it.

If the writing is unclear or even just unprofessional, you will lose points. This does not always mean that you will be writing pages and pages of text. However, you will probably have pages and pages of graphs!

Late Days

Assignments lose 10% of their grade with each day that they are late. However, you may use 10 grace days for emergencies, to defer work without penalty. Remember that I will not take any work submitted on or after the reading day.


The will be a take-home final. You are expected to take this exam during the final exam period.


Assignments and exams given throughout the semester are categorized and weighted according to the following schedule:

       Category              Weight
       Labs                   45%
       Individual Project     20%
       Homework               15%

       Final                  20%

Grade Scale

Grades may be adjusted slightly at the end of the semester. The adjustments made to the grading scale will only help you get a better grade. The percentages in the following chart show the grade that is guaranteed (i.e. if you get a 95.0% you will not get a grade less than an A).

   A    95 - 100%
   A-   91 - 94.9%
   B+   87 - 90.9%
   B    82 - 84.9%
   B-   80 - 81.9%
   C+   76 - 79.9%
   C    72 - 75.9%
   C-   68 - 71.9%


Class Report

You will be required to make a written report on a topic related to class discussion. Edit the Reports list page so that your initials appear on next to the report you wish to write. There is a link next to where your initials will be. Use that page for your report. Note that you can use latex math syntax to make formulas. Use the $\sqrt{n}$ button above the edit field in edit mode to add formulas. You can find more help on wiki editing under Help in the navigation area to the left.

See the Reports page for more information. Do not re-write the material from the book, wikipedia or any other source, these reports need to be your synthesis of the topic. It is very imprtant that you classmate be able to understand your topic, so start with the basics, especially for the oral report. If you feel you need to give background to make you report complete, please do so. Also, I expect you to find outside (Not from class and not from the book) material to include, perhaps examples.

You must also include a candidate question for the final for the topic you report on. It should be a reasonably challenging question that would take the average student 15-20 minutes to solve. You will be graded on the quality of this question.

Every one always asks about length. If you print out your report from the wiki, it should be about 5-7 pages. Note that the wiki format is loose. You may be surprised how little writing takes 6 pages in this format.

Class Reports Comments

All students are required to read all reports. Your comments on the reports are much appreciated. However, you are required to make formal comments on two reports of your choosing. Please add your comments on the corresponding discussion page and include your wiki ID in the tile. Your grade here is based on you making useful addition to the material, not for finding typos. Your comments are due the last day of class.

Your comments should be about 3/4ths of a page in the wiki print format. –>

Online Grades

Your grades are available online in the byu gradebook application. I will do my best to get things recorded correctly, but if something is not correct please point it out to me as quickly as possible (while things are still fresh on my mind).

University and Department Policies

We will follow all university and department policies, including, but not limited to, the following:

Dress and Grooming

Besides being part of the Honor Code, which every one of you has agreed to abide by, it is important that you obey the dress and grooming standards.


The following is BYU's statement on preventing sexual harassment:

Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 prohibits sex discrimination against any participant in an educational program or activity receiving federal funds. The act is intended to eliminate sex discrimination in education. Title IX covers discrimination in programs, admissions, activities, and student-to-student sexual harassment. BYU's policy against sexual harassment extends not only to employees of the university but to students as well. If you encounter unlawful sexual harassment or gender based discrimination, please talk to your professor; contact the Equal Employment Office at 378-5895 or 367-5689 (24 hours); or contact the Honor Code Office at 378-2847.

Computer Abuse

Quoted from the CS department computer policies:

Accounts on Computer Science Department computers are privileges to be used in conjunction with and in support of various related Computer Science classes. Abuse in any form will result in immediate suspension of your account(s). If an abuse involves a violation of the honor code, you will be referred to University Standards. If an abuse involves illegal activity, appropriate authorities will be notified. In either case, you will be immediately dropped from all Computer Science Classes you are enrolled in. Some violations are punishable by expulsion from the University. Your keystrokes may be monitored and saved. Examples of abuse of your account include:

  • Transfer or storage of pornographic or illegally duplicated material.
  • Use of your account to probe or crack security systems, including passwords, or to intercept information intended only for others.
  • Sending mass, commercial, obscene, or harassing email or usenet news posts.
  • Sharing your account or account password with anyone.
  • Misusing your lab privileges, including game playing, and especially actions which could cause damage, such as rebooting a workstation.


The following is BYU's statement on students with disabilities:

Brigham Young University is committed to providing a working and learning atmosphere that reasonable accommodates qualified persons with disabilities. If you have any disability, which may impair your ability to complete this course successfully, please contact the Services for Students with Disabilities Office (378-2767). Reasonable academic accommodations are reviewed for all students who have qualified documented disabilities. Services are coordinated with the student and instructor by the SSD Office. If you need assistance or if you feel you have been unlawfully discriminated against on the basis of disability, you may seek resolution through established grievance policy and procedures. You should contact the Equal Employment Office at 378-5895, D-282 ASB.

Children in the Classroom

The following is BYU's statement on Children in the Classroom:

The study of Computer Science requires a degree of concentration and focus that is exceptional. Having small children in class is often a distraction that degrades the educational experience for the whole class. Please make other arrangements for child care rather than bringing children to class with you. If there are extenuating circumstances, please talk with your instructor in advance.

cs677/syllabus.txt · Last modified: 2014/12/31 16:26 by ringger
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