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2002 Nov 13 11:30

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Re: [vox] code sleuths needed - cheating suspected
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Re: [vox] code sleuths needed - cheating suspected

On Wed, Nov 13, 2002 at 11:06:58AM -0800, Peter Jay Salzman wrote:
> dear all,
> i suspect a student has copied a homework assignment from another
> student.  call them "student 1" and "student 2".
> [snip]
> i won't mention the reasons why i think the two codes are similar.
> instead, i'll let other people analyze it themselves.  i first suspected
> copying because as i read through student 1's code, i kept saying to
> myself "this is my own coding style".  then i remembered that i wrote
> part of student 2's code who came to me for help with the program.  the
> two of them are friends and work together.
> i'm curious to know what people think.

Hmmm...while I'm hardly an expert, a few points come up:
  - Student 1's initial code example is very poorly commented (almost no 
    comments).  Comments in the code turned in by student 1 for the 
    assignment are almost idential to those in student 2's code.

  - Variable names are identical.
  - Indent style is inconsistent; however, this looks like a first-year 
    class, so that can be attributed to students playing around and finding
    a coding style they are happy with.

  - The only thing that really bugs me is that the equation bits in the 
    middle (inside of the for-loop) are set up in an identical fashion.

A conclusion?  Not really much of one; it could be a copy, but then again, 
the similarities can be accounted for because the two likely work together 
and help each other out.  In my CS classes, when I was stuck on a problem,
I'd look at some sample code, and certain things (variable names, specific
algorithms) would often end up the same in whatever I was writing, just 
because they were in cache at the time.

I'd make a judgement call as a professor.  How many assignments have been
turned in?  Is this code uncharacteristic of Student 1's work; e.g., does 
he usually turn in broken code, but this one works?  Do you have any other 
reasons to suspect cheating?

Don Werve <donw@examen.com> (Unix System Administrator)

Yorn desh born, der ritt de gitt der gue,
Orn desh, dee born desh, de umn bork! bork! bork!
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