CSC 161 Grinnell College Fall, 2011
Imperative Problem Solving and Data Structures

Traditionally, CSC 161 has focused on the student of imperative problem solving and C; and this offering of the course continues those themes. This course offering, however, also includes the control of robots as an application theme.

Although many elements of this revised course are in place, details will evolve through the semester, and you should check these Web pages frequently about specifics of modules, examples, readings, labs, projects, and assignments.

  Modules:   Outline   Module 000   Module 001   Module 010   Module 011
  Data Representation   Module 100   Module 101   Module 110   Module 111

  Instructor   Supplemental Problems   Credits   Schedule ( .dvi format / pdf format / postscript )   Tutors
  Textbooks   Course Work   Deadlines   Collaboration   Cell Phones   Accommodations   Grading

This course explores elements of computing that have reasonably close ties to the architecture of computers, compilers, and operating systems. The course takes an imperative view of problem-solving, supported by programming in the C programming language. Some topics include:

In order to explore these topics, this offering of the course uses robots for many examples, labs, and projects. More specifically, the course is largely organized into eight modules, each of which has these general qualities:

Main links for the modules follow:


Henry M. Walker

Office: Science 3811
Telephone: extension 4208

Office hours are posted weekly on the bulletin board outside Science 3811, with additional hours possible by appointment. You may reserve a half hour meeting by signing up on the weekly schedule, but please sign up at least a day in advance.


The hardware, software, readings, labs, and other materials from this course have evolved from many sources:


Henry Walker, An Introduction to C Through Annotated Examples,

Brian W. Kernighan and Dennis M. Ritchie, The C Programming Language, Second Edition, Prentice Hall, 1988, ISBN 0-13-110362-8 (paperback), 0-13-110370-9 (hardback).

The MyroC.h header file identifies the full range of C-based commands available for the MyroC/Scribbler 2 robots, as used in this course.

The GNU make Manual, Free Software Foundation, 2006.

Eric Huss, The C Library Reference Guide, University of Illinois Student Chapter, 1997.

Online materials are associated with many of modules and labs for the course. These materials may be accessed through the Module Outline.

This course relies upon MyroC and Myro-Cpp software that may be obtained through


While the schedule for this course is expected to evolve, a Tentative Class Schedule is available in .dvi , pdf, and postscript formats.

Also, if you are logged into the departmental network and want a copy printed, click duerer to have a copy printed on the printer duerer.

Course Work

Course Work will involve a combination of the following activities.


Deadlines are shown on the Tentative Class Schedule , and work is due at the start of each class specified. A penalty of 25% per class meeting will be assessed for any assignment turned in late, even work submitted at the end of a class. However, an extension of at least one class period is automatically granted if the department's Linux network is down for an unscheduled period of three or more hours during the week preceding the assignment. Normally, a program or laboratory write-up is due every third class meeting.

Absolute Deadline: All homework must be turned in by Friday, 9 December at 5:00 pm;
laboratory reports or programs received after that time will not be counted in the grading of the course.


The rules regarding collaboration in this course depend upon the nature of the assignment:

In particular, this means that you may work in groups of two laboratory exercises and projects. However, you are reminded that All academic work at Grinnell College must follow standard academic practice regarding quotation, paraphrase, and citation. Grinnell's Student Handbook provides basic guidelines. For this course, academic honesty requires the following practices:

Cell Phones, Text Messaging, and E-Community Devices

Cell phones, text-messaging devices, and other social-networking connections may not be used in this class. If you bring such equipment to the classroom, it must be turned off before the class starts and stay off throughout the class period. Use of such equipment is distracting to those nearby and will not be tolerated.


If you have specific physical, psychiatric, or learning disabilities and require accommodations, please let me know early in the semester so that your learning needs may be appropriately met. You will need to provide documentation of your disability to the Director of Academic Advising. Feel free to talk to me if you have questions or want more information.


This instructor's grading philosophy dictates that the final grade should ultimately be based upon each student's demonstration of her or his understanding of the material, not on the performance of the class as a whole nor on a strict percentile basis. The following scheme is proposed as a base for how the various assignments and tests will be counted in the final grade.

Lab Write-ups: 10%     Module Projects: 25%     Supplemental Problems: 10%     Hour Tests: 30%     Exam: 20%     Lab Evaluations: 5%

This document is available on the World Wide Web as

created 25 April 2008
last revised 16 October 2011
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For more information, please contact Henry M. Walker at