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Exam Guidance

Guidance for CS405 exam 2007

CS405 will be a 3 hour examination. There are 5 questions. Question 1 [40 marks] is compulsory. You select any 2 from the remaining 4 [each accounted 30 marks]. This means an approximate division of time: 72 + 2*54 = 180 minutes in total.

Question 1 is about the fundamental principles and concepts of EM. You are expected to understand how EM develops and exploits the concepts of an observable, a dependency and an agent. It is useful to be familiar with the variety of ways in which these concepts are represented in EM models. Important also to appreciate the essential empirical rather than formal nature of these concepts. Essential also to have reflected on how these concepts fit into the context of EM "vs" conventional programming. For instance, you should reflect on "observables" vs "variables", "dependencies" vs "equational constraints", and on the evolving nature of "agency". The key lectures as far as basic understanding is concerned are 1-7, where both the ODA framework and the modelling/programming get extensive coverage. Being familiar with some of the key diagrams, and knowing how to use these in a explanatory way in conjunction with standard models is valuable. More advanced development of these issues can be found in Lecture 17 (Rethinking Programming) and is also informed by Lectures 8-10 and 15-16.

Because of the large amount of material that was distributed during the module, and the loosely structured nature of the online material, some specific guidance on the topics that feature in questions 2-5 follows:

  • Giving an LSD account
  • EM in its relation to the theme of modelling
  • EM in relation to learning and education
  • EM as a practical activity, such as you experienced yourselves in the course of making your model for WEB-EM-3.


For LSD, lectures 11-14 are the most relevant. To prepare for this, you might venture trying to give an LSD account of some everyday activity, such as making a visit to the supermarket (e.g. what observables, dependencies and agents are in your mind when standing at the checkout?), or sitting a classtest.

Material on EM in relation to modelling is particularly associated with Lecture 20 and the associated reading exercises prepared by SBR. The broader context for this is informed by Lectures 18 and 19.

The theme of EM for learning is quite pervasive in the module, but was particularly developed in Lecture 21 (though it also features as a subtheme in Lecture 17). Good to reflect here on the merits of EM where constructionism is concerned, and consider (e.g) how modelling simple geometry with definitive scripts compares/contrasts with specifying it in LOGO.

You will be expected to have understood enough about building EM models with the tools to be able to venture some sort of account of modelling project that (unless you can read my mind!) you have never considered before. The orientation of the modeller, technical aspects of the notation, and pragmatic aspects of the process are all relevant here.

This should be helpful in guiding and focusing your revision. Though specific lectures have been highlighted in connection with particular questions, it is advisable to have a general familiarity with the material in the module, as there is a lot of interconnection between the various themes. Also important to be familiar with a variety of standard models.