The prerequisites for CS 161 are:

We assume basic knowledge of C and Python. Some basic familiarity with Unix systems is helpful for Project 1. Project 2 is done in Go and we won’t have any lectures on Go syntax, so we expect students to be able to learn the basics of the language on their own.


We will have live lecture on Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays, 10:00–11:00 AM PT. This is the listed lecture time on the course schedule. Lectures will start at Berkeley time. Recordings will be posted shortly afterward.

The first two weeks of discussions will be held conducted fully online over Zoom. From Wednesday, September 8th and onwards, a limited number of in-person seats will be available in Lewis 100, and the online, synchronous format will remain available for students attending lectures online.

For students attending lecture over Zoom, we encourage asking questions via Zoom chat. The lectures are designed to be interactive: Please use the Zoom chat to both communicate amongst participants and ask questions. We also encourage students to turn on their camera if they are willing and comfortable, but this is not required.

Discussion Sections

Most discussions will be held in-person. A select number of discussion sections will remain fully online through the course of the semester, and a couple discussion sections will be held in a hybrid format, available to both in-person and online students.

TAs will hold 60-minute live discussions once a week over Zoom. All discussions on a given week will cover the material from lecture from the previous week. Students may attend any discussion section they want. The discussion schedule will be posted on the course calendar when the semester starts.

We encourage students to enable the camera and microphone for discussion if they are willing and comfortable, but this is not required.

Office Hours

Most office hours will be held in a hybrid format, available to both in-person and online students. Some office hours will also be available fully online.

Office hours will be held at scheduled times available on the course calendar. We will manage office hours by using an online queue. Students (both in-person and online) can queue join the queue on this system. The queue system will notify the student when a TA has picked up their request.


The required readings are all linked on the course website and freely available. The majority of required readings come from the course textbook, which is freely available for you to use as a study and review resource.


There will be one midterm exam and a final exam. Exams are mandatory and synchronous (everyone takes them at the same time).

By default, students will be opted in to an in-person exam at the scheduled exam time, in the form of a proctored paper exam. Students may, for any reason, opt out of the in-person exam and instead take the exam online. We will also offer an alternate exam time (both in-person and online) for both the midterm and the final for students who can’t take the exam at the scheduled time. Before each exam, a form will be sent out for students to opt out of in-person exams or select an alternate exam time.

Online exams will be proctored over Zoom. See the exam logistics page for detailed proctoring logistics. Additionally, we may ask some students to take a short verbal exam as part of our “trust-but-verify” policy, regardless of whether they took the exam in-person or online.


There will be 7 homeworks, released every other week and due on Friday nights at 11:59 PM PT. Homeworks will be submitted electronically via Gradescope.

No late homeworks will be accepted, but we will drop your lowest homework score.

If you encounter extenuating circumstances, please let us know by filling out this form.


There are 2 labs. These are shorter than projects, but longer than homeworks. Grading details for the labs are still being worked out and will be finalized by the release of the first lab.


There will be 3 course projects. All projects may be done in groups of two or individually.

You have 6 slip days to use on projects. Slip days are rounded up to the nearest day For example, if you submit one minute past the deadline, it counts as using one slip day.

For projects with multiple deliverables (e.g. code + write-up), slip days will be applied using the latest submission. For example, if you submit code one day late and the write-up two days late, it counts as using two slip days.

We will automatically apply slip days at the end of the semester to maximize your total project score.

We will penalize late project submissions with no remaining slip days as follows:

If you encounter extenuating circumstances, please let us know by filling out this form.


We will compute grades from a weighted average, as follows:

The class as a whole is typically curved to the department guidelines for upper-division CS classes. Previous grade distributions on Berkeleytime are also good indicators of the curve.


If you have a question, the best way to contact us is via the class Piazza site. The staff (instructors and TAs) will check the site regularly.

If your question is personal or not of interest to other students, please mark the question as private: select “Post to: Instructor(s)” at the top and then type “Instructors” in the field underneath it.

Collaboration Policy

We believe that most students can distinguish between helping other students understand course material and cheating. Explaining a subtle point from lecture or discussing course topics is an interaction that we encourage, but you must write your solutions strictly by yourself (with your partner on projects). You must not ask for homework/project solutions on Stack Overflow or other online sites; although you may ask for help with conceptual questions. You must not receive help on assignments from students who have taken the course in previous years, and you must not review homework or project solutions from previous years.

You must ensure that your solutions will not be visible to other students. If you use GitHub or another source control system to store your solutions electronically, you must ensure your account is configured so your solutions are not publicly visible. If you use GitHub, it offers free private repositories that allow you to keep your solutions private; please use one.

Warning: Your attention is drawn to the Department’s Policy on Academic Dishonesty. In particular, you should be aware that copying or sharing solutions, in whole or in part, from other students in the class or any other source without acknowledgment constitutes cheating. Any student found to be cheating will (1) be referred to the Office of Student Conduct, (2) receive negative points on the assignment (i.e., worse than not doing it at all), and, depending on severity, (3) fail the course.


We will be discussing attacks in this class, some of them quite nasty. None of this is in any way an invitation to undertake these attacks in any fashion other than with informed consent of all involved and affected parties. The existence of a security hole is no excuse. These issues concern not only professional ethics, but also UCB policy and state and federal law. If there is any question in your mind about what conduct is allowable, contact the instructors first.