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INF 108: Programming for Problem Solving

Semester: Spring 2023 
Time/Location: Fully Online (learn at your own pace)
Instructor: Chen Zhao
Contact: (Important: When emailing, please add [CINF108] at the beginning of the subject line)
Office Hour: By appointment (Online)

Course Description:

Ever thought about a problem and said “There should be an app for that”? This course provides an introduction to computer programming using Pyhon – a modern programming language – as a way to solve problems. It focuses on programming concepts and fundamentals within the context of solving real world problems. This course introduces students to computational thinking and programming as methods to solve problems related to Informatics. This is an Informatics-oriented introduction to programming; therefore, the course is designed for all students and does not require prior programming experience.

Note: This is a condensed semester schedule; instead of a 15-weeks semester, we have to do all work within 8 weeks.

Learning Objectives:

Upon completion of the course, students should be able to accomplish the following outcomes:

Textbooks & References:

There is no required textbook, but the following books may serve as useful references for different parts of the course.

Course Outline:

Weeks Topic Deliverables Notes
1 Course introduction, Installation of Python, Pycharm Installing PyCharm  
2 Introduction to Machine Learning, Algorithms, How to become a machine learning engineer    
3 Programming with Python, Writing simple programs, Variables, expressions and statements I HW 1  
4 Programming with Python, Writing simple programs, Variables, expressions and statements II    
5 Conditional execution, Functions and Lists I Quiz 1  
6 Conditional execution, Functions and Lists II HW 2  
7 Midterm    
8 Loops and iterations and Dictionaries I    
9 Loops and iterations and Dictionaries II HW 3  
10 Classes I Quiz 2  
11 Classes II HW 4  
12 File Input/Output Quiz 3  
13 File Input/Output HW 5  
14 TBD    

Examinations and Grading:

This course is A-E graded. The final grade will be determined based on the following:

If a student feels they will miss a course obligation for any reason, they must reach out to the course instructor for guidance.


Homework Assignments

Late Homework

Disability Policy:

Reasonable accommodations will be provided for students with documented physical, sensory, systemic, medical, cognitive, learning, and mental health (psychiatric) disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring accommodation in this class, please notify the Disability Resource Center (518-442-5490; Upon verification and after the registration process is complete, the DRC will provide you with a letter that informs the course instructor that you are a student with a disability registered with the DRC and list the recommended reasonable accommodations. You can review the Equity and Compliance website as well for additional information.

Academic Integrity:

It is every student’s responsibility to become familiar with the standards of academic integrity at the University. Claims of ignorance, of unintentional error, or of academic or personal pressures are not sufficient reasons for violations of academic integrity. See

Course work and examinations are considered individual exercises. Copying the work of others is a violation of university rules on academic integrity. Individual course work is also key to your being prepared and performing well on tests and exams. Forming study groups and discussing assignments and techniques in general terms is encouraged, but the final work must be your own work. For example, two or more people may not create an assignment together and submit it for credit. If you have specific questions about this or any other policy, please ask.

The following is a list of the types of behaviors that are defined as examples of academic dishonesty and are therefore unacceptable. Attempts to commit such acts also fall under the term academic dishonesty and are subject to penalty. No set of guideline scan, of course, define all possible types or degrees of academic dishonesty; thus, the following descriptions should be understood as examples of infractions rather than an exhaustive list.

Any incident of academic dishonesty in this course, no matter how “minor” will result in