This is the official course page for COMP1D04

All announcements will be posted here. If it's not here, it's not official.

About this Course

In this course, you will learn about how to use the computer to solve problems that you might encounter in daily life. Our focus is on analysing and making sense of the human-related data that is out there. For example, somebody claims that the Hong Kong media is overly biased towards the pan-democrats. Is that true? Is that not true? How can you decide? Better yet, how do you prove that you are correct (or that somebody else is wrong?

Specifically, in this class, we will learn how to define a problem, collect the data, and then use spreadsheets (i.e. Google Sheets) and programming (i.e. Python) to analyse the data. In the process, obviously we will be learning how to write instructions (e.g. spreadsheet formulae or programming statements) that will do the analysis for us.

This course is meant for students who do not have any programming background and who preferably are not from Engineering, FAST or FCE. We will not be tackling any physics-type equations or finance-related problems. For students from the sciences and engineering, it's not that we don't want you in the class, but it's because you probably are not going to learn anything that will truly be useful to you. You'd be better off taking a real programming class instead!

For students from the other disciplines, we will not be assuming any programming background nor will we assume that you have much math or science background. You will learn lots of new stuff in this course, and you will come into contact with mathematical or logical concepts, but whatever you need we will teach you.

This course is adapted from Brown University's CSCI 0931: Introduction to Computation for the Humanities and Social Sciences. Many of the examples, much of the content and the activities are taken from them. A very big shout-out and my sincerest gratitude goes to Prof. Shriram Krishnamurthi for graciously allowing us to use his material!

Course Logistics

We meet once a week, on Tuesdays, 11:30-14:30. There is no separate tutorial section.

The class will be partially lecture, partially lab. There will be plenty of class exercises that you have to complete in class, and whatever you cannot complete, you will hand in as homework. If you have a laptop, it is strongly advised that you bring it to class with you.

The course grading is as follows: This is the official course webpage. We will not be using Blackboard for this course.

Teaching Team

Your teaching team is Grace Ngai, Memory Chiu, and Tiffany Kwok. If you need to get in touch with us, please email us at,, or Please send all emails from your official PolyU account (e.g. your account), as it is impossible to verify who you are otherwise.

Class Material

Lecture Notes and Homeworks will be released here as they become ready. In general, we will not release lecture notes before the lecture. Please come prepared to take notes. Also, please do not take photos of the slides. Copy them down, as that ensures better learning and retention. Trust us. We have taught enough students and we know.

Lecture Notes

In-class Activities

  • Activity 2-5
  • Activity 2-4
  • Activity 2-3
  • Activity 2-2
  • Activity 2-1
  • Activity 1-4
  • Activity 1-3
  • Activity 1-2
  • Activity 1-1

    Homework Assignments


    The marks for your assignments and quizzes are posted on this page. Let us know if you have forgotten which animal you were assigned to. Blank grades mean that you either (1) did not turn in the homework, or (2) did not show up for the quiz.

  • Collaboration Policy

    COMP1D04 has a strict "no-cheating" policy. This means that:
    1. The collaboration policy for each homework will be specified at the beginning of the homework set.
    2. Unless specified, you are to do all work on your own. If you need help, please come to one of the members of the teaching team. You are not to discuss homework with your classmates, unless we specifically say that you may.
    3. Even if you discuss homework with your classmates, you may not copy down the answers directly from them. You may discuss concepts only. We reserve the right to question students independently if cheating or over-collaboration is suspected.
    4. If you use material from sources outside of the lecture notes, you are to specify that on your hand-in.
    Any violation of this policy will result, at the very least, in a grade penalty or failure of the subject. We also reserve the right to refer the case to the Student Disciplinary Committee for further action.