Posted by: atri | October 9, 2012

The mid-term post

First, the midterm is on Friday, Oct 19 during the usual class timings (i.e. 1:00-1:50 in DAVIS 101). Below the fold are some comments that might be helpful to prepare for the mid-term.

  • Work through the sample mid-term. As I have already mentioned, do not use the sample mid-term to deduce anything about the relative coverage of different topics. (See points below for more on the coverage.) The sample mid-term is meant for you to see the format of the questions and in general gauge the “hardness” of the problems.
  • You will be under (a bit of) time pressure in the mid-term– it might be useful for you to use the sample mid-term to decide on how much time you are going to spend on each question. Also read the instructions on the first page and keep them in mind during the exam (the instructions will of course be repeated on the exam sheet).
  • If you need help attend the usual recitation, office hours or the office-hour-a-thon on Thursday, Oct 18 as well as Zihe’s special review session on Friday, Oct 19.
  • The exam will be closed book and closed notes. However, you can bring in one 8.5″ X 11″ review sheet. You can write anything that you want on the sheet as long as it is one sheet (you can use both sides). It can hand-written or typed up doesn’t matter– however, you are not allowed to bring in a magnifying glass. The review sheet is to make sure you do not spend time memorizing definitions etc. but can concentrate on the main ideas in the material we have covered. The exam (as you can probably make out from the sample mid-term) will focus on how well you understand the material and not how well you can memorize. However, see next point.
  • Do not spend too much time cramming stuff into the review sheet. In my experience (both as a student and instructor), it never helps. You should utilize your time trying to understand the material better.
  • We know that you have much less time to write answers on the exams than the homeworks so a correct proof idea will be worth at least 80% of the grade. (If the question does not specifically ask for a proof, then we’re only looking for a proof idea.)
  • The questions will be from all the material in Chapters 1,2 and 3 (except Sec 1.2). However, see the next couple of points.
  • Most of the questions will be from Chapter 1 and 3. (You could have guessed this from the time we spend on these chapters in class.) However, there will be some question(s) from Chapter 2. (Also note that Chapter 2 in some sense is very basic: you can be asked to analyze the run time of an algorithm related to stuff from Chapter 1 or 3.)
  • Most of the questions will be from the sections we covered in class. This, however, does not meant that can’t be any question from the sections that I did not explicitly cover in class. (Also see next point.)
  • We did not cover  certain sections in the book, e.g. we did not cover Sec 3.4 and 3.5 at all in class. However, Sec 3.4 and 3.5 are very nice applications of the BFS/DFS and I would highly encourage you to read those sections to build more intuition on BFS/DFS algorithms.
  • You guys did not have a HW on Sec 3.6. So in the worst-case, I’ll only ask a T/F question from that section. (Note however, that a T/F question is worth 10 points out of 100, so it is not something to be trifled with.)
  • Again I encourage you to post your questions on piazza. However, please do not wait till the last moment. We cannot guarantee a timely reply if you send us an email after Thursday, October 18,  7pm.

If you have any questions, please post them on  piazza.

I know exams can tense you up. However, try to relax: practice some extra problems or re-read parts of book. Try to have fun during the exam and things should turn out for the better!

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