Programming Practice (CS109)

This webpage is designed not only for the CS109 course that I teach but also to allow you to study programming on your own. See the self-study section below.

Programming Practice (CS109)

Spring Semester 2018

Students must bring their own laptop computer to this course. Students cannot enroll in this course if they do not have a computer that they can bring to the classroom.

This course introduces basic concepts of programming and computer science, such as dynamic and static typing, dynamic memory allocation, objects and methods, binary representation of numbers, using an editor and compiler from the command line, running programs with arguments from the commmand line, using libraries, and the use of basic data structures such as arrays, lists, sets, and maps.

This course is particularly meant for students who did not learn programming in high school, but who enjoyed programming in CS101 and who want to develop their programming skills.

Every week there will be one lecture, and a three-hour lab. I will provide materials (lecture notes and on-line tutorials) that students sometimes need to study before coming to the lab. You will spend all three lab hours on a fun programming project. The difficulty of the projects will slowly increase over the semester. There will be no separate homeworks or projects, however, you will be asked to finish projects at home if you could not complete it during the lab.


I'm trying to make this webpage and the materials suitable for self-study, for students who cannot take CS109 or who quickly want to improve their programming skills (for instance during the semester break).

I have made a complete written tutorial that walks you through all the material in the course. Read the tutorials on The command line, Introduction to Kotlin, and Incremental testing, then start working on the programming projects. The difficulty of the projects increases slowly during the course. You'll need to read more of the tutorials as you progress through the projects.

Programming language

In this course we will use the Kotlin programming language.

In my experience, students develop a style of programming in their first programming language. They find it difficult to learn a different style later, even if they switch to a different language. This means that students should start early to use a modern language that encourages writing clean and elegant code, and supports a good object-oriented and functional style.

We will therefore use Kotlin in this course. Kotlin is fully compatible with Java, so you can use it for anything that can be done in Java, but it is a much more modern, much more readable, and much more sensible language. We will also experiment with compiling Kotlin source to Javascript, so you can run your programs inside a web browser, and will even write small apps that can run on Android phones.

Most students will still have to learn C++ and/or Java later during their studies—but I believe that after getting programming practice in Kotlin, they will be able to write better code in those languages as well.

Course information

Otfried Cheong Office: E3-1 3434, Phone: 3542.
Teaching assistants
Office hour

Our programming lab takes place on Friday from 13:00 to 16:00 in several classrooms of building E3-1.

In two of the three classrooms, TAs will only speak Korean. All non-Korean speakers will be assigned to the third classroom.

Grading policy

Programs will not be graded, because programming is part of the learning experience (it is not an exam).

However, students must submit all programming projects they have done. Grades will be deducted for missing labs without excuse, or for not submitting lab projects.

The final grade will be composed as follows (small changes reserved):

  • Project (20%), Midterm exam (30%), Final exam (40%), Participation (10%).
Again: Students must upload their lab projects to the course submission server. The programs will not be graded, but uploads will count for lab participation, and I can see if students are making progress.

There will be a midterm exam and a final exam.


Here is a rough list of what we will cover in each week of the semester.

Week 1 Introduction, command line tools
Week 2 Basic scala, command line arguments
Week 3 Types of objects, dynamic and static typing
Week 3 Number types
Week 4 Dynamically allocated objects, stack frames, garbage collection
Week 5 Arrays and lists
Week 6 Sets and maps
Week 7 Strings and text processing
Week 8 Midterm exam
Week 9 Function objects
Week 10 Higher-order functions
Week 11 Compiled programs
Week 12 Objects
Week 13 Object-oriented programming I
Week 14 Object-oriented programming II
Week 15 Project presentations
Week 16 Reserve


Class announcements will be made on KLMS.

For asking questions and discussing the course material, however, we will be using Piazza.

Here is our Piazza class page.

If you do not understand something, it is important that you ask questions. Piazza allows you to ask questions and get answers from the instructor, the teaching assistants, and your classmates. You can ask questions anonymously, so don't be shy and ask!

Both Korean and English are acceptable on Piazza :-). You make it easier for me if you write in English, but if the TAs can answer your question, then Korean is just fine.

To ask questions, you need to register on Piazza and enroll as a student for CS109. To do so, go to the CS109 enrollment page. Select "Join as student". You will then need to use your KAIST email address (ending with @kaist.ac.kr) to create an account.


Every week you will be assigned to read about certain topics in the course tutorials. You will find each week's reading assignment posted on KLMS.

It is important that you do not just read through the tutorials briefly. Turn on your computer, and follow the steps of the tutorial on your own computer. That way the material will become active knowledge that you can apply yourself when you program.

Programming projects

You will find the project for each week posted on KLMS. The full list of projects for self-study can be found here.