Getting Started

Joining late? First and foremost: Don’t panic! You have not missed any graded assignments! You might have missed a practice assignment or two, but, they will be easy to do quickly, and you have not lost any points!

With that out of the way, you can simply follow the rest of the directions here, and you’ll be all set!

Bookmark The Website

You’re already here, but you’ll probably be back. So, it is probably a good idea to bookmark this website. We will use many different websites and services in this course, but this website is really the only place that you need to remember to check, as it will direct you everywhere else you may need to go.

Within the schedule section of the navigation bar, you’ll see a link for each week of the course. These are mostly blank at the moment, but as we progress through the course, these will be the pages you spend most of your time interacting with. For example, you can find all of the necessary information about Week 01 at the following link:

On that page, you’ll see information about:

  • The learning objectives for the week
  • Any reading you need to complete during the week
  • Any lecture recordings that are posted
  • Any assignments that were released during the week or due during the week
  • The office hours schedule

These weekly pages will often need to be updated throughout the week. For example, the lecture recordings can only be posted after they exist! The information about assignments will update throughout the week as well.

Also, note that we will post a specific office schedule for each week. Mostly, this will be the same schedule that is listed in the syllabus, but occasionally we’ll need to move things around a bit so we’ll give a particular schedule for each week.

Check Your Email

We will use email to make announcements in CS 307. Hopefully, you’ve already seen an email or two from Dave. Even if you have, it would be a good idea to add to your email’s safe senders list. While I still think it is more reliable than other announcement tools, University email has too often been marked as spam recently. To combat this, I will also post the text of email announcements to the course discussion forum.

We recommend that you check your University email at least once a day.1

I will generally try to not overwhelm you with email announcements. Usually, the plan is to send one a week, at the start of the week, that will direct you to the weekly link discussed in the previous section, and outline what we’re going to do for the week. During the first couple weeks, I will likely email a bit more frequently, especially because it is likely that our roster will be shuffling during that time.

Read The Syllabus

Read the syllabus! We know that it is long and boring, but being familiar with this information will help you succeed in the course. At the top of the syllabus, we also have some suggestions for when to read the syllabus. Students often incorrectly believe that reading the syllabus is only a start-of-the-semester activity.

Register For Ed Discussion

We will use Ed Discussion to manage a discussion forum for the course. You should have already received a link to join. Check your email! As noted in the syllabus, the we have a preference for using the discussion forum rather than email for answering questions. Please take a look at the pinned posts which set some expectations for how to interact with the forum. There is also a thread where you can introduce yourself if you’d like!

If you are joining late and have not yet seen an email with the link to join the forum, please be patient. There is nothing you need to access there at the moment, and we will be sending that link repeatedly during the first two weeks.

Join The Class On PrairieLearn

Head to PrairieLearn and use the “Enroll Course” button towards the top left of the page and join the Fall 2023 instance of CS 307.

After joining, provided you have done so before the first discussion, there will be no content on PrairieLearn. This is expect. The first PrairieLearn assignment, Homework 00, will be released and completed during the first discussion section. More on this below.

Check Canvas Access

Verify that you have access to CS 307 on Canvas. If you do not have access, and have recently registered, please be patient. Rostering with Canvas can be slow, but you do not need access for anything before the end of the second week, and you do not need access to submit anything grading before the third week! Please do not email asking for access unless it has been 48 hours since you have registered. We promise, we are not hiding anything!

Like PrairieLearn, once you have access, there will likely be nothing there! The first Canvas assignment, Lab 00, will be released and completed during the first discussion. More on this below.

Take Note Of Exam Dates

Take some time now to note the dates and times of the two exams for the course.

Exam 01

  • Date: Friday, October 6
  • Times: 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

Exam 02

  • Date: Friday, November 17
  • Times: 9:30 AM - 10:45 AM

The date of the second exam lands on the Friday before Fall break. We understand that many students travel during that time, but that Friday is a known class day and has been since before any students of this class were enrolled in the University!2 Conflicts will be provided for legitimately excused absences approved by the University, but purely elective travel is not a legitimate reason to seek a conflict exam.

Go To Discussion Section

Attend the first discussion section on Friday, August 25. In addition to introducing the full course staff, we hope to accomplish three tasks during this time that should set us up for a successful semester.

Bring your laptop! If you do not have access to a laptop, please contact the course instructor to discuss potential solutions.

Setup Your Computer

Thankfully, most of you have taken both STAT 107 and STAT 207, so you’re probably ready to go!

Part of what we’ll do to verify that your setup is ready to go, is complete Homework 00 and Lab 00 together during discussion. If you can successfully follow along on your laptop, you’re all set! If you encounter issues, we will reserve time at the end of discussion for “laptop support office hours” and assist you getting your machine prepared for the semester.

You essentially need seven things:

  1. Python, specifically python3.11 or later
  2. Visual Studio Code (VSCode)
  3. Python VSCode Extension
  4. Jupyter VSCode Extension
  5. Python Data Science Packages
  6. Quarto CLI
  7. Quarto VSCode Extension

To test your setup, launch VSCode, create a new Jupyter notebook and attempt to run the following:

import numpy as np
x = np.array(range(0, 10))
rmse = np.sqrt(np.mean((x - np.mean(x)) ** 2))
print(f"The RMSE is {round(rmse, 2)}.")
The RMSE is 2.87.

If your output matches, you’re all set! If not, we’ll fix it in discussion3.

We will require additional software and packages later in the semester, but we will provide installation instructions as we encounter these tools.

Complete Homework 00

Complete Homework 00 during discussion! Dave will do Homework 00 together with the class. This will be an opportunity to learn about the homework process on PrairieLearn in addition to testing your laptop setup.

Complete Lab 00

Complete Lab 00 during discussion! Dave will do Lab 00 together with the class. This will be an opportunity to learn about the lab process on Canvas in addition to testing your laptop setup.

Know Where Your Towel Is

Do you have a towel? Do you know where it is? Are you confused why you’re being asked about a towel? Like other things you’ll encounter during the course, such as the number 42, this is a phrase from The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Long story short4, it is a metaphor for being prepared!