Growth Mindset: Algorithmic Thinking and Coding (code 27233B)

Lecturer: Dr. Paolo Coletti . Office E203 - Office hours:


In the lesson of 19th November I will do ATC10 (for those who like to watch the videos before)

FOR THE LESSON 19th NOVEMBER (which means you have to submit it by the 18th November at 14:00, better much earlier to avoid last moment problems that most of you seem to have....).
1. Exercises ATC08exe : redo the first four questions now that you know the difference between an object and a variable, findElement using the for loop, from "Define a procedure Union" included up to the end of the file.
2. Build procedure myGraduationGrade which accepts as input a list of lists such as [ [30,6], [27,3], [18,5], [25,6] ] where the first element of each element represents your grade in an exam and the second one the number of credits of that exam. The procedure calculates the weighted average, in the example (30*6+27*3+18*5+25*6)/(6+3+5+6) , and then multiplies it by 110/30 to convert it in 110th. The procedure finally returns this number, which represent your graduation grade. Test it with your real bachelor's grades and credits (or just some of them, if you do not want to type all of them).
3. Build procedure majority which takes as input a list of bool and returns True if there is a majortity of True, False if there is a tie or majority of False. For example majority([True,False,True,True,True,False]) returns True. Discuss its complexity and try to reduce it.
4. Build procedure search which takes as input a sorted list of numbers (such as [-3,-1,4,17,32]) and a number x and searches for x in the list. If it exists, it returns the index, otherwise -1. You may not use the method .index. For example search([4,5,7,8,9,11,13],8) returns 3. Discuss its complexity and (optionally, it won't count negatively if you do not do it) reduce its complexity exploiting the fact that the list is sorted.

FOR THE LESSON 8th NOVEMBER (which means you have to submit it by the 7th November at 10:00).
Exercises ATC08exe all (except findElement using the for loop) up to "Define a procedure Union" excluded.
Watch video ATC06 on how to build a search engine and study it, be prepared to repeat the code and explain it in class, if you are one of the lucky ones that will be called out. Then make execises on ATC06exe (all, including flowchart and complexity). I move the test webpage here on with links to other test pages, such as to make a little test website.

1. Some of you probably have a hard time understanding this kind of subject. For these people, my suggestions are:
(a) watch the video of the lesson BEFORE it. It helps you really a lot, you will undersdtanda better what you have understood first time and you will grasp a lot of other details that you usually miss.
(b) repeat the lesson before start doing the exercises. This applies to everybody. Make sure you have understood everything. Well, this should be done also by people who understand this subject perfectly...
(c) Do alternative exercises on your own twisting the ones I did in class. This does not mean to simply change the variables' values, but to actually try to slightly change the code and see what happens or trying to do something slightly different. This is the way I learnt to write programs!

2. People absent on last lesson can be called next time and asked also about things from this time. Video of lessons that you skip will be available (only for a some days) on my YouTube channel in the course's playlist:

3. I put a new short bizarre video here trying to teach you how to deal with a computer problem.

4. If you need unibz software for free, here is the link:

5. If you need unibz virtual machines, here is the link: (it works even from outside Scientific Network)



In order to correctly follow this course each student is required previous knowledge on these topics:

Course content

How to study for this course

This course is different from the majority of courses you are used to. This course is much more technical than theoretical and it is strictly sequential. This means that you have to adapt your study strategy. First of all, you either attend all the lessons (or compensate for missing lessons watching immediately the corresponding videos or reading the book) or it is really not worth coming to the next one, since you will have a hard life understanding the next topic. Moreover, after each lesson you must repeat slowly on your own everything done in class in order to be sure to have fully grasped the explained concepts before the next lesson. And, needless to say it, do the exercise without copying them from your colleagues.

For the exam the main difference with respect to other courses is that you have to train much more than studying. The content of this course is easy and does not need extensive study, however it is only with practice that you become skilled enough and know immediately what to do without wasting time.


Exam is split in three parts. The grade is the weighted average of the three parts, based on how many lessons were dedicated to each of them.

  1. Theoretical questions on cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology
  2. Questions and exercises on computational complexity
  3. Practical exercises on Python


Attending students have the opportunity to skip part 2 and 3 of the exam and replace them with a constant coursework. The coursework consists in
(a) home exercises which will be assigned after each lesson and which must be returned to dr. Coletti via email not later than 24 hours before the next lesson (0 hours before the next lesson in case it is the day after). You can make these exercises with a partner, but this partner must be different from the partner of your previous home exercise;
(b) oral presentation of exercises and similar tasks at the beginning of each lesson. Attendance is mandatory to all Python lessons, as you must be available for being called. In case of problems, you can be available via Skype or Google Hangouts or FaceTime, but set up everything in advance as all the technical problems are your responsability (it is a good idea to do a test with me some days before). You may skip maximum 5 times the oral presentation, but the next time you come you might be asked to present the exercises of the time you were absent. And please, do not stay home both the last two lessons!
(c) practical mid-terms which will be organized periodically during the course. In case you skip one, we can try to arrange to do it later, but I do not guarantee.
In order for the coursework to be considered sufficient, you must have fulfilled all three points and with a weighted average grade of at least 60%. If the grade you receive is sufficient but too low for you, please write an email to dr. Coletti at least 7 days before the exam telling him that you will do the full exam.
Note that the only required attendance is when you might be called for the oral presentations or at the mid-terms, for the rest of the lesson you stay only if you think it may be useful for you, there are videos covering all my lessons.

Study resources

Lessons' slides
Videos as replacement of attendance
Written material as support
Precourse No slides anymore in 2019 Go down here

No books in 2019!

Python No slides anymore in 2019 Go down here No books in 2019!
Computational complexity will appear will appear No books in 2019!
Cryptocurrences Slides in PDF and in PPTX Go down here No books in 2019!


Files and programs used in class
Go to this directory here

Python 3 versus Python 2

Issue Python 2 Python 3
print it is a command:
print string
it is a function, therefore it needs parentheses:
print with trailing comma a trailing comma after print suppresses new line:
print string,
to suppress new line use:
print(string, end="")
integer division 5/2 gives 2. To get the float result:
either 5.0/2 or float(5)/2 or 5/2.0 or 5/float(2); float(5/2) still returns 2.0
5/2 gives 2.5
range function range function returns a list range function returns a range object. To get a list:
xrange function xrange function returns a range object, like range in Python 3  

Videos of lessons

course brief presentation
YouTube Brief course presentation
precourse 01
YouTube Precourse for Windows 10 on unibz network and file handling, first part.
precourse 02
YouTube Precourse for Windows 10 on unibz network and file handling, second part.
precourse Mac 01
YouTube Precourse for Mac on unibz network and file handling, first part.
precourse Mac 02
YouTube Precourse for Mac on unibz network and file handling, second part.
01 installing Anaconda
YouTube For Python we will use Anaconda with Jupyter and Python 2.7 (but 3.7 is fine)
01bis refusing to install Anaconda
YouTube For those who do not have a notebook (and borrow one from the library) or refuse to install Anaconda
02 basic Python
YouTube Basic Python programming, Bakus-Naur form, integer and float variables, string variables, find method.
How to solve problems

How to solve computer problems explained with a carpentry example

03 procedures and decisions
YouTube Procedures, tab, logical expressions, and, or, not, If, else, elif.
04 flowcharts
YouTube Flowcharts
05 while and complexity
YouTube While loops, break, multiple assignment, computational complexity
06 Search engine
YouTube Building a search engine: retrieve the links
07 Solving problems
YouTube How to tackle a computational problem
08 Lists
YouTube Lists and strings, objects and their differences towards variables.
09 Search engine
YouTube Building a search engine: crawling
10 Dictionaries
YouTube Dictionaries
cryptocurrencies and blockchain technology
YouTube A decentralised currency, basic cryptography, Bitcoin history and technology, blockchain technology, advantages and criticisms

This short video illustrates how to reach unibz network folder \\ubz01fst (which contains course_coletti and your own personal stuff) using VPN when you are connected from outside university or when you are connected using wifi.
This procedure is not part of exam's stuff.


Before the exam:

  1. if you do not use your own notebook, borrow a computer from the library well before the exam and configure it before the exam
  2. make sure that Anaconda is installed and that you can use Jupyter for Python;
  3. check that you are able to locate \\\Courses directory;
  4. just in case your notebook crashes the night before, some days before the exam borrow a computer from the library and check that you are able to log in on your unibz account and that you have, or are able to install, everything you need

Frequently Asked Questions

Q: Which software do I need for Python on my notebook?
Anaconda is available for Windows and for Mac. Take care to install Python 2. Watch the video 01 or 01bis for details.

Q: I have no notebook. What do I need for the course and for the exam?
You can borrow a notebook from the library. Watch the video 01bis to know how can you use Jupyter, you have several possibilities.

Q: How can I reach network folder \\ubz01fst from outside unibz or connected via wifi?
A: For Windows users: if you are connected to wifi ScientificNetwork try to digit in any explorer address bar \\ and see whether you reach it. You need to provide your login and password, but you need to tell to your computer that you are using a different domain and then you have to type unibz\loginname instead of simply loginname. If this fails or if you are no connected to ScientificNetwork, then you need to install VPN. There is a specific video up here.
For Mac users: if you are connected to wifi ScientificNetwork, Finder -> Go -> Connect to server -> smb:// . You need to provide your login and password, but you need to tell to your computer that you are using a different domain and then you have to type unibz\loginname instead of simply loginname.

Q: May I fix an appointment to talk with you?
A: I live in the XXI century, the age of asynchronous communication. Try to send an email to me clearly stating the course you are talking about (I have several ones) and the problem you have. You will be surprised by how fast I react, and without having the notifications on my smartphone.

Q: When will the next exam be? Can you give me a hint on the exam's date because I have to catch a plane? Can you move the exam's date? Can you fix the exam's date on the week I suggest?
A: Please stop writing me emails on this topic. Exam's date appears on your timetable as soon as it is official. If you have something to say about it, contact your students' speaker who is the only one who can submit requests on students' behalf.

Q: I may not enrol online for technical or administrative reasons or I forgot to enrol or it is my third attempt and I cannot enrol. Can I do the exam anyway?
A: No, I may not let non-enrolled students take part of the exam. Do not ask me to do illegal things! Ask the secretary whether there is something they can do.

Q: May I do the exam with my computer?
A: Sure. But beware: (1) you must be able to navigate the Internet and to enter directory \\\Courses\Course_Coletti. Do not wait for the day before the exam to check it. (2) You are responsible for your different programs' versions and configurations and for the absence on your computer of specific programs.
In any case you will have a unibz desktop computer in front of you.

Q: May I use the operating system in a different language?
A: Yes, sure. Your business.

Q: Will the exam be similar to the other exams on this website?
A: Sure. For the first year (2018/19) I shall put a couple of exam's prototypes.

Q: I lost a file during the practical exam because I did not save it correctly. What may you do?
A: Absolutely nothing. With time spent on exercises you should know the unreliability level of your programs, and how often you have to save.

Q: My files were not copied correctly at the end of the practical exam. What may I do?
A: Checking that the copy is correct, and practicing file copy even during the exam, is your task and is official prerequisite for this course.

Q: Hey, exam's time is not enough! I could not even finish it. If I only had other 5 minutes I would have done it much better!
A: Sorry but you are wrong, as I calculate more than twice the needed time. Look at the important warning after exam's explanation: the fact that for you exam's time was not enough is instead an indication that you must do many more exercises to be efficient and fast enough. On the other hand, if you have documented medical problems that slow your operations, write an email to me to have more time.

Previous exams

Exam link
Solution link
Videosolution for Python
prototype for A.Y. 2019/20
will appear
prototype for A.Y. 2019/20
will appear

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