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This is an introductory computer half-course offered in the Fall and Winter terms by the School of Computing at Queen's University. It surveys many fields of computing science, presents case studies of fascinating examples of computers in use in diverse areas, and discusses the possibilities, limitations, and risks of computers. Particular attention is given to issues of security, privacy and ethics.

Weekly Schedule

LectureMonday11:30 am12:20 pmJeffery 155/157
Lecture/Lab*Tuesday1:30 pm2:20 pmJeffery 155/157
Lecture/Lab/Quiz*Thursday12:30 pm1:20 pmJeffery 155/157

*There will be twelve labs during the term of which your best ten will be counted. In most cases, labs will be held during the Thursday meeting, excepting in weeks 3, 6, 9 and 12 (quiz weeks) when labs will take place during the Tuesday meetings. This schedule is subject to change with minimal notice! Check the CISC P81 News section of this page, below, frequently for such announcements.

CISC P81 News

Look here frequently for important announcements and items of interest. More recent entries are at the top.


  • 2017-11-24

    Cookies might determine what you pay for online purchases

    Another CBC news item appropriate to a recent lecture topic: How companies use personal data to charge different people different prices for the same product.

  • 2017-11-23

    Geolocating and eavesdropping on your cellphone

    Appropriate to Week 11's lecture on privacy, we have this rather disturbing story from the CBC showing how two of Canada's largest telecom services – and, by extension, their cellphone customers – are vulnerable to hacking.

  • 2017-11-26

    Quiz 4 reading now on Notes page

    I've just been informed by a student in the class that the Quiz 4 reading, Tweet analysis for real-time event detection and earthquake reporting system development, is temporarily unavailable through the Queen's Library's site. I have put a copy of the .pdf on the Notes page of the course website for your use. Here is the URL: http://sites.cs.queensu.ca/courses/ciscp81/Notes/Quiz_4_reading.pdf.

  • 2017-11-21

    Week 12 slides now posted

    In order to assist you in your studying for Quiz 4, I have posted the Week 12 slides early.

  • 2017-11-20

    "We can't trust Facebook to regulate itself"

    Appropriate for Week 11 is this article from the New York Times on Facebook and privacy self-policing.

  • 2017-11-03

    No Lecture on Monday 2017-11-06

    As announced several times in lecture, I planned to get through the Week 6 material entirely by the end of Week 5 to allow for the lecture period on Monday before Quiz 3 to be used for students seeking help with the Weeks 3 through 6 material. So, I will be at Jeffery 155 during that time, but not to give a lecture.

  • 2017-10-13

    "Social welfare increasing in immediate jurisdictions"

    With respect to the Quiz 2 reading, "Why Cybercrime?" I was interested to see what the authors were referring to when they used the expression "social welfare increasing in immediate jurisdictions." (Another way of saying the same thing is that the conditions of living are improving for some highly localized population.) Tracing their references led to this interesting article from Wired magazine on a place called Râmnicu Vâlcea in Romania, a place where, according to the article, the major source of income is cybercrime. https://www.wired.com/2011/01/ff_hackerville_romania/

  • 2017-10-13

    Session dates corrected on Syllabus

    I've made a correction to the dates on the Syllabus page. As originally posted, and as distributed, unfortunately, in the first day handout, an extra week had been inserted into the Fall term, corresponding to the Winter term's Reading Week. Note that there is no such week in the Fall term, and that the final week of classes, Week 12, begins on Monday, November 27.

  • 2017-10-05

    Quiz 1, Labs 1 - 3

    Grades for Quiz 1 and for the first three labs are now available. See the note below this one for how to get them. If you want to see your Quiz 1, please visit me in my office. Call first (613-553-6753) to make sure I'm in.

  • 2017-10-05

    Get your CISC P81 grades

    There is a link now on the Notes page that will let you get your CISC P81 grades to date.

  • 2017-10-04

    Quicksort example

    Download this Microsoft Excel spreadsheet to see an example of a Quicksort done on a randomly-ordered list of integers. Quicksort_example.xlsx.

  • 2017-09-13

    Note Takers Wanted

    Accessibility Services (QSAS) needs volunteer note takers for this class. Volunteer note takers are critical to an inclusive Queen’s by ensuring that students with disabilities have full and equal access to information and materials presented in class.

    Expectations of a volunteer note taker:

    • Sign up to be a volunteer for this course
    • Upload copies of your notes to an online module within 24 hours after each class
    • Notes must be:
      • Clearly dated
      • Contains the correct course code (i.e., CISCP81) in the title
      • Prepared in a Windows friendly file format (e.g. Microsoft Word or Power Point)
      • Handwritten notes (or handwritten formulas) scanned or pictures taken and uploaded. Each page should be dated and numbered to enhance organization

    Students who provide 80% or more of the notes for the course throughout the term will receive a letter of recommendation signed by the Executive Director of Student Wellness Services outlining their exemplary contribution and commitment as a Queen’s volunteer.

    For more information, please visit http://www.queensu.ca/studentwellness/accessibility-services/note-taking OR contact us at notetake@queensu.ca.

  • 2017-09-11

    Watch This Space!

    Check this page frequently for course-related announcements.