This page constiutes the official syllabus for this class.

Course Information

Introduction to Data Science
CMSC320 Spring 2020

  • Lecture Meeting Times
    Monday and Wednesday, 5:00pm-6:15pm, IRB 0324

  • Instructor:
    Héctor Corrada Bravo
    Center for Bioinformatics and Computational Biology
    Department of Computer Science
    Office: 3226 Iribe Center for Computer Science and Engineering Phone Number: 301-405-2481
    Office Hours: Friday 1:00pm-2:00pm and by appointment

Prerequisite: Minimum grade of C- in CMSC216 and CMSC250 Credits 3

Data science encapsulates the interdisciplinary activities required to create data-centric products and applications that address specific scientific, socio-political or business questions. It has drawn tremendous attention from both academia and industry and is making deep inroads in industry, government, health and journalism.

CMSC 320 focuses on (i) data management systems, (i) exploratory and statistical data analysis, (ii) data and information visualization, and (iv) the presentation and communication of analysis results. It will be centered around case studies and projects drawing extensively from applications.


Consult the class home page for an up-to-date course topic schedule.

Expected outcomes

1) Students will be able to create specific requirements for a data-centric application used to address a specific problem or question
2) Students will be able to identify and select appropriate tools: language, libraries and data resources, to meet specific requirements for a data-centric application
3) Students will be able to build and disseminate a data-centric application from a set of specific requirements using existing tools, libraries, data resources and publishing mechanisms.

TAs and Office Hours Schedule

Location is AVW 4122 unless noted otherwise

Instructor Day Start Time End Time Location R/Python
Aya Ismail Monday 12:00 14:00 Python
Yifan Yang Monday 13:00 15:00 Both
Victoria Cepeda Monday 15:00 17:00 Both
Samuel Dooley Tuesday 07:30 09:30 Both
Victoria Cepeda Tuesday 09:30 11:30 Both
Mohamed Gunady Tuesday 13:00 15:00 Both
Yifan Yang Tuesday 15:00 17:00 Both
Theresa Choi Tuesday 17:00 18:00 Both
Zinat Tasnim Wednesday 10:00 12:00 Both
Theresa Choi Wednesday 10:00 13:00 Both
Noor Pratap Wednesday 15:00 17:00 Both
Samuel Dooley Thursday 07:30 09:30 Both
Alexander Hoyle Thursday 09:00 11:00 Both
Gowthami Somepalli Thursday 14:00 18:00 Python
Alexander Hoyle Friday 08:30 10:30 Both
Zinat Tasnim Friday 09:00 11:00 Both
Aya Ismail Friday 12:00 14:00 Python
Hector Corrada Bravo Friday 13:00 14:00 AVW 3223 Both
Noor Pratap Friday 14:00 16:00 Both
Mohamed Gunady Friday 15:00 17:00 Both

Communication with course staff

Textbook and Resources:

There is no required textbook, the lecture notes will serve as the primary material. However, we will be drawing heavily from these sources:

Additional readings will be posted in ELMS .

Additional class resources are listed here

Student Expectations

  • There will be reading assignments. Students are expected to have read the material before class.
  • Students are expected to attend lectures. Active participation is expected. There will be graded work done in class.
  • Assignments are to be handed-in electronically or in class as instructed on their due date. Late assignments will not be accepted.
  • There will be graded work to be done in class. Students not in class that day, except for an excused absence, will not be able to complete that work outside class.
  • Students may discuss homeworks and projects in groups. However, each student must write and/or program solutions independently.
  • Posting project solutions in a public online location without express consent and permission from the instructor is a violation of academic integrity policy.
  • Cell phone usage is prohibited during lecture, laptop use will be allowed to the extent that students demonstrably use it to follow along an in-class analysis or demonstration.
  • You can earn full credit for class participation in three ways:
    (1) lecture participation, asking questions and answering your peers questions, (this will be impossible to keep track of, so please the two below :-) )
    (2) piazza participation, asking and answering questions on piazza,
    (3) regular attendance to office hours (there will be sign-in sheets during office hours).
    To earn full credit you should aim to ask or answer a question at least once every two weeks on lecture or on piazza; or attend office hours at least once a month (this can include just going to my office hours to chat about computer science, data, science, software engineering, etc.).

Assignments and Grades

Assignments, projects and grades for the class will be posted to the class ELMS site. . Final course grades will be determined based on the following scheme:

  • Projects (40%)
  • Written homework (25%)
  • Midterm exams (20%)
  • Final Project (15%)

You are responsible for all material discussed in lecture and posted on the class web page, including announcements, deadlines, policies, etc.

Regrade Requests

Regrade requests for homeworks, exams and projects will be accepted for 48 hours once grades are posted. We will use the following procedures.

Homeworks and projects

  • Assignment/Exam/Project grades are unmuted in ELMS, an announcement in Piazza will be made stating that regrade window is open
  • Submit request by sending message through ELMS to the instructor and TAs with subject [CMSC320 <Assignment> Regrade Request]
  • Requests submitted within the 48 hour window will be honored, we will reach out through ELMS


Regrade requests for exams will be handled through Gradescope


There will be two in-class midterms (dates subject to minor shift based on course pace):

  • Midterm I: March 2
  • Midterm II: April 20

Final Project

There will be a final project due during the final examination period. The final project will be due on Monday May 18 2020, 6:00pm.

Policies and Resources

University Policies

Policies relevant to Undergraduate Courses are found here: Topics that are addressed in these various policies include academic integrity, student and instructor conduct, accessibility and accommodations, attendance and excused absences, grades and appeals, copyright and intellectual property.

Excused Absences

Any student who needs to be excused for an absence from a single lecture or lab due to illness shall:

  • Make a reasonable attempt to inform the instructor of his/her illness prior to the class.

  • Upon returning to the class, present their instructor with a self-signed note attesting to the date of their illness. Each note must contain an acknowledgment by the student that the information provided is true and correct. Providing false information to University officials is prohibited under Part 9(h) of the Code of Student Conduct (V-1.00(B) University of Maryland Code of Student Conduct) and may result in disciplinary action.

Missing an exam for reasons such as illness, religious observance, participation in required university activities, or family or personal emergency (such as a serious automobile accident or close relative’s funeral) will be excused so long as the absence is requested in writing at least 2 days in advance and the student includes documentation that shows the absence qualifies as excused; a self-signed note is not sufficient as exams are Major Scheduled Grading Events. For this class, such events are the final project assessment and midterms, which will be due on the following dates:

  • Midterm I: March 2
  • Midterm II: April 20
  • Final Project: May 18, 6:00pm

The final exam is scheduled according to the University Registrar.

For medical absences, you must furnish documentation from the health care professional who treated you. This documentation must verify dates of treatment and indicate the timeframe that the student was unable to meet academic responsibilities. In addition, it must contain the name and phone number of the medical service provider to be used if verification is needed. No diagnostic information will ever be requested. Note that simply being seen by a health care professional does not constitute an excused absence; it must be clear that you were unable to perform your academic duties.

It is the University’s policy to provide accommodations for students with religious observances conflicting with exams, but it is the your responsibility to inform the instructor in advance of intended religious observances. If you have a conflict with one of the planned exams, you must inform the instructor prior to the end of the first two weeks of the class.

For missed exams due to excused absences, the instructor will arrange a makeup exam. If you might miss an exam for any other reason other than those above, you must contact the instructor in advance to discuss the circumstances. We are not obligated to offer a substitute assignment or to provide a makeup exam unless the failure to perform was due to an excused absence.

The policies for excused absences do not apply to project assignments. Projects will be assigned with sufficient time to be completed by students who have a reasonable understanding of the necessary material and begin promptly. In cases of extremely serious documented illness of lengthy duration or other protracted, severe emergency situations, the instructor may consider extensions on project assignments, depending upon the specific circumstances.

Besides the policies in this syllabus, the University’s policies apply during the semester. Various policies that may be relevant appear in the Undergraduate Catalog.

If you experience difficulty during the semester keeping up with the academic demands of your courses, you may consider contacting the Learning Assistance Service in 2201 Shoemaker Building at (301) 314-7693. Their educational counselors can help with time management issues, reading, note-taking, and exam preparation skills.

Students with Disabilities

Students with disabilities who have been certified by Disability Support Services as needing any type of special accommodations should see the instructor as soon as possible during the schedule adjustment period (the first two weeks of class). Please provide DSS’s letter of accommodation to the instructor at that time.

All arrangements for exam accommodations as a result of disability must be made and arranged with the instructor at least three business days prior to the exam date; later requests (including retroactive ones) will be refused.

Academic Integrity

Academic integrity is an essential part of your educational program. Please find more information about academic integrity policies in the Computer Science Department here:

Course evaluations

Course evaluations are important and the department and faculty take student feedback seriously. Students can go to to complete their evaluations.

Right to Change Information

Although every effort has been made to be complete and accurate, unforeseen circumstances arising during the semester could require the adjustment of any material given here. Consequently, given due notice to students, the instructors reserve the right to change any information on this syllabus or in other course materials. Such changes will be announced and prominently displayed at the top of the syllabus.