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428 register for 6.001, raising space concerns

By Charles R. Jankowski

The Office of the Registrar reports that 428 students have preregistered for Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (6.001).

But the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science (EECS) is not sure if it will need to reduce the number of students enrolled in that class, according to department head Joel Moses PhD '67.

Assistant Professor William E. L. Grimson PhD '80, co-lecturer for 6.001 this spring, said he has "no way of judging" whether more students would attend the first lecture than had preregistered. He added he was "a little concerned it might be true."

Approximately 600 students attended the first 6.001 lecture in the spring term of l983, but only 450 had preregistered. EECS had to cut 141 freshmen from the class as a result.

Professor Gerald J. Sussman '68, fall 6.001 lecturer, said the number of students who actually attend the first lecture Tuesday "could be 600 for all we know, but also could be 428."

Last term "we had fewer students than expected," Sussman noted.

The EECS department has not decided how students will be cut if enrollment is too high, Grimson said. The department will "have to figure out the fairest way." His goals, he said, are to "try to avoid randomness."

"You don't want to do anything that would hurt somebody," Sussman said. Students cut would probably be selected at random from freshmen in the class, he noted.

Three limits to class size

Grimson described three factors limiting class size. The first is the physical size of the planned lecture hall, 10-250.

The department is also concerned with the number of recitation instructors and the size of the recitations. "20 to 25 [students in a recitation] will still probably keep the dynamics of the teaching at a reasonable level, but more than thirty is pushing it," he said.

The EECS department is "trying to set up fifteen [recitation] sections of about thirty students each," Moses said. This would bring the upper limit of the class to 450.

The final limitation on 6.001, according to Grimson, is the number of computers available to the students for the required laboratory. The class has 48 personal computers.

"I'm not certain whether one cuts a good limit there," Grimson said. "We want to give the students reasonable access, and hopefully not require that students have to go in at three in the morning to do their project."