Revised course grade calculations are done. These changes account for taking Simulation Bounties off "off the table" as well as the ElevatorGaps alternative submission.


Lawrence M. Leemis, Stephen K. Park, Discrete Event Simulation - A First Course, Pearson Prentice Hall, ISBN 13: 978-0131-42917-8 --- BEWARE THE INTERNATIONAL EDITION

There are two textbooks on reserve in the Arthur Lakes Memorial Library.

Unfortunately, there are no electronic versions of this text are available (or so I'm told). :(

Course Description

CSCI498 --- Computer Simulation: A first course in computer simulation. A course emphasizing the rigorous development of simulation applications. Topics will include the design of simulations, Monte Carlo simulation, discrete event simulation, and the mathematics behind their proper implementation and analysis. To a lessor extent we may discuss random number generation, time-step simulations and parallel simulations. The course uses in class group work, programming assignments, student-selected initiatives, and exams for assessment.

Prerequisites: Software Engineering (CSCI306), Probability and Statistics (MATH200 or MATH323), Introduction to Linux (CSCI274).

Learning Goals

The objectives of this course are to introduce students to the field of computer simulation.

Upon successful completion of this course, the student will be able to:

  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of rigorous computer simulation software development.
  • Demonstrate a working knowledge of pseudo random number generator APIs and their properties.
  • Apply the laws and formulas of probability and statistics to simulation input modeling.
  • Apply the laws and formulas of probability and statistics to the results of simulations and demonstrate best practices in the presentation of simulation results.
  • Known the distinguishing details of discrete (next) event and Monte Carlo simulation architectures.

Learning Methods

This will not be a traditional lecture course. Instead, it will be taught using an active learning technique known as formal learning groups. Here is how they will work.

A semester will have three rounds of learning groups (LGs), each about four weeks long. Students will be randomly assigned to learning groups at the beginning of each round.

  1. "Lectures" will begin immediately with learning group time. LGs should review the previous assignment's learning goals and discuss the new content. LGs are expected to rearrange the room furnishings to accommodate their group work. The instructor will circulate through the learning groups to record participation points, observe discussions, and answer questions.

  2. After the initial group time, there will be a brief discussion of the current assignment's topics, perhaps working through a few example problems or debating some finer points of a topic. This will be led by the instructor but guided by student input.
  3. Important topics in the next reading assignment will be introduced to the students.
  4. The balance of the lecture period will be a more formal (but short) lecture period interspersed with some problems and guided discussions for learning groups.
  5. Before the end of most lecture periods, learning groups will have an opportunity to see the next group assignment and discuss how the work load will be divided among the members.

Student Evaluation

Students should familiarize themselves with the collaboration policy for graded work.

Grade Component

Course Grade Weight


Group score on quizzes


Median score of your group members, weighted evenly1
12% formal quizzes, 2% unannounced grading "checks"



Weighted evenly

Programming and Written Assignments


Read about late penalties

Midterm Exam


Cumulative, weighted

Final Exam


Cumulative, weighted

In Lieu of ''Simulation Bounties''


Learning Group Quizzes

At the end of each learning group round, there will be a quiz over the material covered during the learning group. These are Learning Group Quizzes. These quizzes will be taken independently by each LG member, but each member's course grade will be based (in part) on their individual performance as well as their learning group's performance.

Life happens and occasionally a student won't be able to sit for a learning group quiz. If the absence is excused, then the student will have the missing individual portion of the quiz ignored in grade calculations, but they will still share in the group component of the quiz. There is typically a "Quiz Prep" learning group assignment before a quiz, so excused students should do their share of this work for the benefit of whole group.

With this policy, make-up quizzes are rarely offered.


Programming and written assignments may we worth different numbers of points, but their percentile grades are all weighted the same when calculating the "Assignment" portion of your course grade. Every effort will be made to have your assignments graded within two weeks, but you should understand that the assignment grader has a (graduate) student's schedule as well!

  • After assignment grades are posted, students have 1 week to review and contest an assignment grade. If you are concerned over a particular assignment's grading, Email your concerns to the instructor.

  • Assignments may not be re-submitted after they have been graded, even if the re-submission is before the assignment deadline.
  • Late Policy: 5% off for first 24 hours, 12% off for second 24 hours, 25% of for the third 24 hours (3 days late). Assignments posted 4 days or more after the due date are not graded. Weekends count as late days, all work must be turned in before Dead-Day.

Programming Languages

You are free to use a general purpose programming language of your choice, within these constraints:

  1. It must be available on the standard CSM Linux machines (BB136 Lab), without additional installs or (re)configurations.
  2. It must provide a simple pseudo random number generator (we will learn that not all pRNGs are of equal quality).
  3. It must provide access to command line parameters (aka argv).

In general, computer simulation is not a graphics intense software domain; so graphics support and portability of simulation codes from between operating systems should not be a big hurdle.

In addition to these language requirements, programming projects will meet certain design requirements as well.

In Lieu of Simulation Bounties

Here is how the remaining 10% of your course grade will be calculated.

  1. If a student (or student group) submits convincing work for ElevatorGaps, they will earn "full credit" for 10% of their course grade.

  2. Otherwise, I will take a student's best grade percentile from the midterm, their individual quiz score (average), or their programming assignment scores (average), and this best score will be factored into 10% of their course grade.

This might give students that made progress on ElevatorGaps a slight advantage, but I think this is a well-deserved advantage.

Exam "No Show" Policy

Failure to sit for a scheduled exam (without an incredibly good explanation) incurs the same "late penalty" as for late assignments in the course. The "lateness" is measured between the scheduled exam time and when your instructor or course coordinator is informed of your absence.

If there is no policy for late assignments in a course, the following will be used: 10% off for first 24 hours, 20% off for second 24 hours, 40% off for the third 24 hours. Beyond this (again, without an incredibly good explanation) a zero will very likely be recorded for the exam grade.

Students are not guaranteed the opportunity to take a make-up exam; leniency in these matters is at the discretion of the course instructor(s).

Institutional Support

Disability Support Services

The Colorado School of Mines is committed to ensuring the full participation of all students in its programs, including students with disabilities. If you are registered with Disability Support Services (DSS) and I have received your letter of accommodations, please contact me at your earliest convenience so we can discuss your needs in this course. For questions or other inquiries regarding disabilities or academic accommodations, I encourage you to visit for more information.

Discrimination, Harassment and Title IX

All learning opportunities at Mines, including this course, require a safe environment for everyone to be productive and able to share and learn without fear of discrimination or harassment. Mines’ core values of respect, diversity, compassion, and collaboration will be honored in this course (More information can be found here) and the standards in this class are the same as those expected in any professional work environment. Discrimination or harassment of any type will not be tolerated. As a participant in this course, we expect you to respect your instructor and your classmates. As your instructor, it is my responsibility to foster a learning environment that supports diversity of thoughts, perspectives and experiences, and honors your identities. To help accomplish this:

  • Course rosters are provided to the instructor with the student’s legal name. I will honor your request to address you by an alternate name or gender pronoun. Please advise me of this preference early in the semester so that I may make appropriate changes to my records.
  • If something is said or done in this course (by anyone, including myself) that made you or others feel uncomfortable, or if your performance in the course is being impacted by your experiences outside of the course, please report it to:
    1. Me (your course instructor). If you are not comfortable discussing the topic with myself, please consider

    2. the Wellness Center for Counseling (, or

    3. Speak Up which is an anonymous option to report anything that makes you uncomfortable (

In this course, we will cultivate a community that supports survivors, prevents interpersonal violence, and promotes a harassment free environment. Title IX and Colorado State law protects individuals from discrimination based on sex and gender in educational programs or activities. Mines takes this obligation seriously and is committed to providing a campus community free from gender and sex-based discrimination. Discrimination, including sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, and domestic violence, is prohibited and will not be tolerated within the Mines campus community. If these issues have affected you or someone you know, you can access the appropriate resources here: You can also contact the Mines Title IX Coordinator, Karin Ranta-Curran, at 303-384- 2558 or for more information.

Division of Humanities and Social Sciences (HASS) Writing Center

Located in room 133 Alderson Hall (phone: 303-273-3085), the HASS Writing Center is a teaching facility providing all CSM students with an opportunity to enhance their writing proficiency. The HASS Writing Center faculty are experienced technical and professional writing instructors. The Center assists writers with all their writing needs, from course assignments to scholarship applications, proposals, letters and resumes. This service is free to CSM students and includes one-to-one tutoring and online resources.

  1. With some reasonable caveats (1)

Syllabus (last edited 2018-12-06 11:48:08 by khellman)