Course structure + policies


This page is important - please read it all!

GitHub, or: How I learned to ignore Coursesite (for FIN377)

The whole class is run off this website and GitHub. GitHub is how we’ll submit assignments, provide feedback, receive grades, etc. You’ll learn how this works as the semester proceeds. Announcements will be made verbally in class and/or on GitHub.

Practical matters and expectations

  • Classes are in person. Complete the tasks listed here before each class starts.

  • This course will be, in essence, “pseudo flipped.” Meetings will be a mix of lecture, live demo, discussion, pair programming, code races, and tiny student presentations of pre-class problems. I’ll tell you more as we move along, but I’m striving to make class sessions productive and interesting throughout. This will be a very hands-on course, with relatively little in the way of formal theory. Instead, we’ll be working through lecture notes together in class and you’ll be running code on your own machines.

  • Free and open-source: All resources and software required for this course.1

  • “Taking a step back, one of the goals of this course is to make you aware of the incredible array of instruction material that is freely available online. I also want to encourage you to be entrepreneurial. In that spirit, many of the lectures will follow a tutorial on someone’s blog tutorial, or involve reproducing an existing study with open source tools.” -Grant McDermott

  • In addition, you will have as resources this website, your peers via a GitHub discussion board, the whole of the internet, and, naturally, office hours. Which is to say: You have my utmost support, and you will succeed if you put in the time!

  • Attendance: not mandatory, but heavily incentivized. Optimize your own tradeoffs as you wish but take responsibility for it.


Seeing students in class is fun for me, and your attendance will help you (and your classmates!) learn the content of this course. Attendance in prior years was extremely correlated with assignment and project grades. Plus, I sometimes make live-only announcements during class.

With that in mind, a large part of the grade depends on attendance, directly or indirectly.

I will take attendance intermittently and randomly throughout the semester without notice, and will award points to students in attendance.

Grading policies and academic integrity

  • All assignments must be completed individually.

  • Changes to submissions after the deadline will be ignored.

  • Missed assignments will receive a zero.

Student Senate Statement on Academic Integrity

We, the Lehigh University Student Senate, as the standing representative body of all undergraduates, reaffirm the duty and obligation of students to meet and uphold the highest principles and values of personal, moral and ethical conduct. As partners in our educational community, both students and faculty share the responsibility for promoting and helping to ensure an environment of academic integrity. As such, each student is expected to complete all academic course work in accordance to the standards set forth by the faculty and in compliance with the University’s Code of Conduct.

More on Academic Integrity

The work you do in this course must be your own. This means that you must be aware when you are building on someone else’s ideas—including the ideas of your classmates, your professor, and the authors you read—and explicitly acknowledge when you are doing so. Feel free to build on, react to, criticize, and analyze the ideas of others but, when you do, make it known whose ideas you are working with. If you ever have questions about drawing the line between others’ work and your own, ask me and I will give you clear guidance or you may visit Lehigh Library’s ‘Proper Use of Information’ page at

Important syllabus policies

The Principles of Our Equitable Community

Lehigh University endorses The Principles of Our Equitable Community. We expect each member of this class to acknowledge and practice these Principles. Respect for each other and for differing viewpoints is a vital component of the learning environment inside and outside the classroom.

Accommodations for Students with Disabilities

Lehigh University is committed to maintaining an equitable and inclusive community and welcomes students with disabilities into all of the University’s educational programs. In order to receive consideration for reasonable accommodations, a student with a disability must contact Disability Support Services (DSS), provide documentation, and participate in an interactive review process. If the documentation supports a request for reasonable accommodations, DSS will provide students with a Letter of Accommodations. Students who are approved for accommodations at Lehigh should share this letter and discuss their accommodations and learning needs with instructors as early in the semester as possible. For more information or to request services, please contact Disability Support Services in person in Williams Hall, Suite 301, via phone at 610-758-4152, via email at, or online at

Lehigh University Policy on Harassment and Non-Discrimination

Lehigh University upholds The Principles of Our Equitable Community and is committed to providing an educational, working, co-curricular, social, and living environment for all students, staff, faculty, trustees, contract workers, and visitors that is free from harassment and discrimination on the basis of age, color, disability, gender identity or expression, genetic information, marital or familial status, national or ethnic origin, race, religion, sex, sexual orientation, or veteran status. Such harassment or discrimination is unacceptable behavior and will not be tolerated. The University strongly encourages (and, depending upon the circumstances, may require) students, faculty, staff or visitors who experience or witness harassment or discrimination, or have information about harassment or discrimination in University programs or activities, to immediately report such conduct.

If you’ve read this far down, congrats! Send me a picture of a koala by Jan 31 and I’ll give you some extra credit. If you’re a late add, you have until the day of the second class after you join.


I do strongly recommend investing in yourself by buying a second monitor if you have any space for it. With a second monitor, your productivity in all work and classes will be improved. You can find good new monitors for under $75 on your go-to delivery service, and for far less if you get a used one. Note that everything else in class is free and open-source and that this class does not require you to pay for any materials, software, or subscriptions.