This lab explains how to use your own computer to complete assignments for CS 61A and introduces some of the basics of Python.
This lab looks really long, but it's mostly setup and learning how to use the essential tools for this class; these may seem a bit difficult now, but will quickly become second nature as we move further into the course.
Install a terminal
The terminal is a program that allows you to interact with your computer by entering commands. No matter what operating system you use (Windows, macOS, Linux), the terminal will be an essential tool for CS 61A.
If you're on a Mac or are using a form of Linux (such as Ubuntu), you already
have a program called
Terminal or something similar on your computer. Open
that up and you should be good to go.
You can just skip this step and use Windows PowerShell instead of Bash for the purposes of 61A.
PowerShell comes pre-installed on Windows and requires no extra setup.
You can simply launch it from the Start menu.
Simple commands like
ls will work (
python will work after the setup),
which encompass most of the Bash commands you need for this course.
Later courses will use Bash and use more sophisticated commands, though, so if you'd like to get familiar with that instead, you can install Git-Bash via either method below:
Easy (automatic) method: Right-click here, click Save link as..., then save and run our automated installer, following the displayed instructions. Note: If nothing happens when you run the installer, follow the anti-virus note below. (Advanced users: If double-clicking doesn't work, you can also try
cscript "Install-Python-on-Windows.jse"from PowerShell or the Command Prompt.) If this method succeeds, you can move on and install a text editor; you now run Python inside Git-Bash. (In fact, only inside Git-Bash. So this won't let you run
.pyfiles by double-clicking them. But you shouldn't need to do that for this course.) If this method fails, try the alternate method below.
Anti-virus troubleshooting: Your anti-malware scanner may mistakenly block this file. In the case of Windows SmartScreen, you can bypass it as follows: manually open the download folder, right-click the installer, select Properties, check the "Unblock" box, click OK, and run the installer again. For Windows Defender, students have sometimes reported success by clicking "See Details", letting it scan the file, and then rebooting. If your antivirus otherwise allows you, you can also try whitelisting the file. In any case, if you don't find a workaround that works for you, you can just use the manual installation method below.
Alternate (manual) method: First, if you already tried the automatic installer above, make sure it's fully cleaned up:
- Look for Git as an installed program in "Add/Remove Programs", and, if it exists, uninstall it.
- Once Git is no longer installed, if a
C:\Program Files\Gitfolder still exists, delete that too.
Now download and install Git Bash. You can use the default options, with one exception: Select Use Windows' default console window in the Configuring the terminal emulator to use with Git Bash step. This is very important! If you do not select this option, your terminal won't work with Python!
If you're already using Git-Bash from outside this course and reinstalling it isn't an option: Depending on whether you selected the MinTTY option when installing Git, it's possible that typing a command like
pythonwon't display anything on the screen. You can fix this by typing
winpty pythoninstead (or
winpty py -3, etc. as described below), but it will be painful, as you will have to remember to do this every time for the rest of the course! Hence, we recommend that you go back and reinstall Git-Bash with the recommended options if possible.
If everything succeeded, you are now able to launch a terminal on Windows by running Git-Bash.
SSL/TLS errors: If you ran into connection security errors, you may need to update your system and/or enable TLS 1.2 (e.g. see here for Windows 7). You can check your TLS version by installing Python first, and running the following in
from json import loads; from urllib.request import urlopen; loads(urlopen('https://www.howsmyssl.com/a/check').read().decode('UTF-8'))['tls_version']
If you don't see TLS 1.2 or later, that may be why you are encountering problems. If you're on Windows 10, though, the problem may be something else, and you may need to search/ask for help.
Install Python 3
Python 3 is the primary programming language used in this course. Use the instructions below to install the Python 3 interpreter. (The instructions may feature older versions of Python 3, but the steps are similar.)
Important: If you already have an older version of Python installed,
please make sure to download and install Python 3.9. You can check your Python
sudo apt install python3 (Ubuntu),
sudo pacman -S python3 (Arch),
or the command for your distro.
Download and install Python 3 (64-bit).
You may need to right-click the download icon and select "Open". After installing, please close and open your Terminal.
If you used our automated installer successfully, skip to the next section—you should already have Python.
If you'll be using PowerShell, open the Microsoft Store and search for "python". Install Python 3.9 by the Python Software Foundation (this should be the first result). You can then skip the rest of this section. (Important: If you later decide to reinstall Python differently, uninstall it from the Microsoft Store first.)
Otherwise, if you're installing manually,
download & run Python 3 (the Windows x86-64 executable installer) and
make sure to check the "Add Python 3.x to PATH" box,
which will allow you to execute the
python command from your terminal.
After installing, please close and open your terminal. Try running the
command. If this doesn't work, try
py. Windows may use any of
these to refer to Python, so you should use the one that works on your machine.
Install a text editor
The Python interpreter that you just installed allows you to run Python code. You will also need a text editor, where you will write Python code.
There are many editors out there, each with its own set of features. Visual Studio Code (VS Code) is the most popular choice among the staff for this course for writing Python. Some other editors that are used among staff are listed below as well. We highly recommend for this class you use VS Code.
Warning: Please, please, please do not use word processors such as Microsoft Word to edit programs. Word processors can add extra content to documents that will confuse the interpreter.
For your reference, we've also written some guides on using popular text editors. After you're done with lab, you can take a look if you're interested:
- Visual Studio Code: A full-featured desktop editor with many extensions available to support different languages.
- Atom: A more lightweight desktop editor.
- Vim: A command-line editor.
- Emacs: A command-line editor.
A few other editors:
Throughout this course, you will have many chances to collaboratively code with others in labs and projects. We recommend you download these pair programming extensions now to use in the future.
For sharing code, you can follow the instructions for your editor of choice:
In case you had troubles installing a Python interpreter, text editor, and terminal, or if you are using something that does not allow you to install software, like an iPad, you can as a temporary measure do the assignments in using some of the following steps while you acquire more appropriate hardware.
Soda lab computers
You will need an instructional account which will allow you to log into and use any of the lab computers in Soda. You can see your existing instructional accounts as well as make new instructional accounts for applicable classes by going to: https://inst.eecs.berkeley.edu/connecting.html.
You can login via your CalNet ID to the site. To make an instructional account for this course, click "Get a new account" for the row that has "cs61a" as its purpose.
Once you've made your account, you can then use it to log into a Soda lab computer, and work on course assignments using that computer.
Online editors as a backup
Important: Both of the alternatives listed below are not ideal for use in this course. We recommend being able to use your own local setup or using the lab computers in Soda (which you can access with your course instructional account).
Note: You will not be able to run
okcommands in 61A Code, which you will need to do for unlocking tests, running tests, and submitting assignments.
Steps to complete this assignment on 61A Code:
- Visit 61A Code.
- Open an existing file: go into your
cs61afolder, then the assignment folder (
lab00), in which you can find the files for this assignment.
- You will be prompted to authorize the editor. You can click on "Confirm". Back to the editor itself, you can then open the files you would like to edit.
- To open the terminal, click on "Console".
- You can use the editor to write your code and the console to run your code.
Another alternative to working locally is to use Datahub at UC Berkeley.
Steps to complete this assignment on Datahub:
- Visit Datahub.
- Upload the assignment zip file to datahub.
- Open a terminal by pressing "New" in the top left corner and selecting the terminal.
- Navigating to where the zip file is and running
- Opening up the code file (
lab00.py) and typing in it, then saving.
- Now you can submit the lab.
Using the terminal
Let's check if everything was installed properly!
First, open a terminal window. If you're on Windows, launch Git-Bash from the Start menu. (Or if you're using PowerShell, run that instead.)
When you first open your terminal, you will start in the "home directory".
The home directory is represented by the
~ symbol, which you might see
at the prompt.
Don't worry if your terminal window doesn't look exactly the same. The important part is that the prompt shows
%(indicating zsh), or
PS(PowerShell). If you see
PSbefore it, you're in the Command Prompt! Do not use that! Close it, and launch Git-Bash or PowerShell instead. (Do not launch Git-CMD.)
echo "$HOME". Verify that it displays the path to your home directory.
We can use the terminal to check if your Python 3 interpreter was installed correctly. Try the following command:
If the installation worked, you should see some text printed out about the
interpreter followed by
>>> on its own line. This is where you can type in Python
code. Try typing some expressions you saw in lecture, or just play around to see
what happens! You can type
Ctrl-D to return to your command line.
- If the
python3command doesn't run at all: Try
- If Python freezes (doesn't display anything at all): You probably didn't select the "Use Windows' default console window" option when installing Git-Bash manually. Try
winpty python, or just uninstall Git-Bash and reinstall it with the correct options.
- If you see
WindowsApps/python: Permission denied: Open Settings (or right-click the Desktop & click Personalize), search for "App Execution Aliases" (or find it by clicking Home→Apps→App execution aliases), and disable the entries that say "python". (Screenshots here.) Alternatively, go to the
WindowsAppsfolder whose path is shown and just rename
python3.exeto something else, or delete them entirely if you are able to. Then try again.
- If Python doesn't run at all, and you used our automated installer: Go back and try installing using the manual method.
- If Python doesn't run at all, and you installed manually: Make sure you set up your "PATH" correctly as shown above.
- If you mixed multiple versions of Python (e.g. 32-bit and 64-bit, or 3.6 and 3.8, etc.): They may conflict. Occasionally, this becomes extremely difficult to fix—even for instructors. Uninstall them one-by-one (the most recent one first), then reinstall only the latest 64-bit version.
- If Git Bash shows an empty black screen: You might have had Cygwin previously installed. You can try uninstalling Cygwin (recommended) and following this answer, possibly uninstalling Git-Bash and/or Python as well, and re-running the installer.
- If you manually downloaded Python from its own home page and don't see
64in the file name: You probably got the 32-bit version. It might work. But if it doesn't, uninstall it before trying another method. If you need to manually find the 64-bit version, look for a recent stable
x86-64 executable installer.
Ask for help if you get stuck!
Organizing your files
In this section, you will learn how to manage files using terminal commands.
Make sure your prompt contains a
$somewhere in it and does not begin with
>>>. If it begins with
>>>you are still in a Python shell, and you need to exit. See above for how.
The first command you'll use is
ls. Try typing it in the terminal:
ls command lists all the files and folders in the current
directory. A directory is another name for a folder (such as the
Documents folder). Since you're in the home directory right now, you
should see the contents of your home directory.
lsdoesn't work, but
dirdoes: stop! You've mistakenly opened the Windows Command Prompt! Exit it, and run Git-Bash instead.
To move into another directory, use the
cd command. Let's try moving into your
Desktop directory. First, make sure you're in your home directory (check for the
~ on your command line) and use
ls to see if the
Desktop directory is present.
Try typing the following command into your terminal, which should move you into
Although, on some Windows accounts, your actual Desktop folder might actually be inside OneDrive:
If you're not already in your home directory, try
cd ~/Desktop instead (or
If you still can't find your Desktop directory, ask for help on Piazza or in office hours.
There are a few ways to return to the home directory:
cd ..(two dots). The
..means "the parent directory". In this case, the parent directory of
cs61ais your home directory, so you can use
cd ..to go up one directory.
cd ~(the tilde). Remember that
~means home directory, so this command will always change to your home directory.
cdon its own). Typing just
cdis a shortcut for typing
You do not have to keep your files on your Desktop if you prefer otherwise. Where you keep your files locally will not affect your grade. Do whatever is easiest and most convenient for you!
Windows PowerShell tip: If you're using PowerShell, you can start it directly by holding Shift, right-clicking inside any folder, and selecting "Open PowerShell Window here". It will automatically
cdto that folder, so you'll have to run
cd ~to change to your home directory.
Making new directories
The next command is called
mkdir, which makes new
directories. Let's make a directory called
cs61a on your
store all of the assignments for this class:
A folder named
cs61a will appear on your Desktop. You can verify this by
ls command again or by simply checking your Desktop.
At this point, let's create some more directories. First, make sure you are in
~/Desktop/cs61a directory. Then, create folders called
inside of your
cd ~/Desktop/cs61a mkdir projects mkdir lab
Now if you list the contents of the directory (using
ls), you'll see two
Downloading the assignment
If you haven't already, download the zip archive, lab00.zip, which
contains all the files that you'll need for this lab. Once you've done that, let's
find the downloaded file. On most computers,
lab00.zip is probably located in a
Downloads in your home directory. Use the
ls command to
If you don't see
lab00.zip, ask for help on Piazza or in office hours. On some versions of Safari the file may get unzipped for you, in which case you would just see a new directory named
Extracting starter files
You must expand the zip archive before you can work on the lab files. Different operating systems and different browsers have different ways of unzipping. If you don't know how, you can search online.
Using a terminal, you can unzip the zip file from the command line. First,
cdinto the directory that contains the zip file:
Now, run the
unzipcommand (non-PowerShell) with the name of the zip file:
If you're using PowerShell 5 (already in Windows 10), you can instead run:
Expand-Archive -DestinationPath . -Force lab00.zip
You might also be able to extract files without using the terminal by double clicking (or right-clicking) them in your OS's file explorer.
Once you unzip
lab00.zip, you'll have a new folder called
contains the following files (check it out with
lab00.py: The template file you'll be adding your code to
ok: A program used to test and submit assignments
lab00.ok: A configuration file for
Move the lab files to the lab folder you created earlier:
mv ~/Downloads/lab00 ~/Desktop/cs61a/lab
mv command will move the
Now, go to the
lab00 folder that you just moved. Try using
cd to navigate
your own way! If you get stuck, you can use the following command:
Here is a summary of the commands we just went over for your reference:
ls: lists all files in the current directory
cd <path to directory>: change into the specified directory
mkdir <directory name>: make a new directory with the given name
mv <source path> <destination path>: move the file at the given source to the given destination
Finally, you're ready to start editing the lab files! Don't worry if this seems complicated—it will get much easier over time. Just keep practicing! You can also take a look at our UNIX tutorial for a more detailed explanation of terminal commands.
Expressions and statements
Programs are made up of expressions and statements. An expression is a piece of code that evaluates to some value and a statement is one or more lines of code that make something happen in a program.
When you enter a Python expression into the interactive Python interpreter, its value will be displayed. As you read through the following examples, try out some similar expressions on your own Python interpreter, which you can start up by typing this in your terminal:
Remember, if you are using Windows and the
python3command doesn't work, try using
py. See the install Python 3 section for more info and ask for help if you get stuck!
You'll be learning various types of expressions and statements in this course. For now, let's take a look at the ones you'll need to complete this lab.
Primitive expressions only take one step to evaluate. These include numbers and booleans, which just evaluate to themselves.
>>> 3 3 >>> 12.5 12.5 >>> True True
Numbers may be combined with mathematical operators to form compound
expressions. In addition to the
+ operator (addition), the
* operator (multiplication) and the
(exponentiation), there are three division-like operators to remember:
- Floating point division (
/): divides the first number number by the second, evaluating to a number with a decimal point even if the numbers divide evenly.
- Floor division (
//): divides the first number by the second and then rounds down, evaluating to an integer.
- Modulo (
%): evaluates to the positive remainder left over from division.
Parentheses may be used to group subexpressions together; the entire expression is evaluated in PEMDAS (Parentheses, Exponentiation, Multiplication / Division, Addition / Subtraction) order.
>>> 7 / 4 1.75 >>> (2 + 6) / 4 2.0 >>> 7 // 4 # Floor division (rounding down) 1 >>> 7 % 4 # Modulus (remainder of 7 // 4) 3
An assignment statement consists of a name and an expression. It changes the
state of the program by evaluating the expression to the right of the
and binding its value to the name on the left.
>>> a = (100 + 50) // 2
Now, if we evaluate
a, the interpreter will display the value 75.
>>> a 75
Doing the assignment
One component of lab assignments is to predict how the Python interpreter will behave.
Enter the following in your terminal to begin this section:
python3 ok -q python-basics -u
You will be prompted to enter the output of various statements/expressions. You must enter them correctly to move on, but there is no penalty for incorrect answers.
The first time you run Ok, you will be prompted for your bCourses email. Please follow these directions. We use this information to associate your code with you when grading.
>>> 10 + 2______12>>> 7 / 2______3.5>>> 7 // 2______3>>> 7 % 2 # 7 modulo 2, equivalent to the remainder of 7 // 2______1
>>> x = 20 >>> x + 2______22>>> x______20>>> y = 5 >>> y = y + 3 >>> y * 2______16>>> y = y // 4 >>> y + x______22
Labs will also consist of function writing problems. Open up
your text editor. You can type
open . on MacOS or
start . on Windows to
open the current directory in your Finder/File Explorer. Then double click or
right click to open the file in your text editor. You should see something like
def twenty_twenty_one(): """Come up with the most creative expression that evaluates to 2021, using only numbers and the +, *, and - operators. >>> twenty_twenty_one() 2021 """return (1 + 10 ** (1 + 1)) * ((1 + 1) ** (1 + 1 + 1) + 1 + 1) * (1 + 1) + 1
The lines in the triple-quotes
""" are called a docstring, which is a
description of what the function is supposed to do. When writing code in 61A,
you should always read the docstring!
The lines that begin with
>>> are called doctests. Recall that when using
the Python interpreter, you write Python expressions next to
>>> and the
output is printed below that line. Doctests explain what the function does by
showing actual Python code. It answers the question: "If we input this Python
code, what should the expected output be?"
- The docstring tells you to "come up with the most creative expression that
evaluates to 2021," but that you can only use numbers and arithmetic operators
- The doctest checks that the function call
twenty_twenty_one()should return the number 2021.
You should not modify the docstring, unless you want to add your own tests! The only part of your assignments that you'll need to edit is the code unless otherwise specified.
Once you understand what the question is asking, you're ready to start writing
code! You should replace the underscores in
return ______ with an expression that
evaluates to 2021. What's the most creative expression you can come up with?
Don't forget to save your assignment after you edit it! In most text editors, you can save by navigating to File > Save or by pressing Command-S on MacOS or Ctrl-S on Windows.
In CS 61A, we will use a program called
ok to test our code.
ok will be
included in every assignment in this class.
For quickly generating ok commands, you can now use the ok command generator.
Back to the terminal—make sure you are in the
lab00 directory we created
earlier (remember, the
cd command lets you change
In that directory, you can type
ls to verify that there are the following
lab00.py: the starter file you just edited
ok: our testing program
lab00.ok: a configuration file for Ok
Now, let's test our code to make sure it works. You can run
ok with this
Remember, if you are using Windows and the
python3command doesn't work, try using just
py. See the the install Python 3 section for more info and ask for help if you get stuck!
If you wrote your code correctly and you finished unlocking your tests, you should see a successful test:
===================================================================== Assignment: Lab 0 Ok, version v1.18.1 ===================================================================== ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~ Running tests --------------------------------------------------------------------- Test summary 3 test cases passed! No cases failed.
If you didn't pass the tests,
ok will instead show you something like this:
--------------------------------------------------------------------- Doctests for twenty_twenty_one >>> from lab00 import * >>> twenty_twenty_one() 2013 # Error: expected # 2021 # but got # 2013 --------------------------------------------------------------------- Test summary 0 test cases passed before encountering first failed test case
Fix your code in your text editor until the test passes.
Every time you run Ok, Ok will try to back up your work. Don't worry if it says that the "Connection timed out." We won't use your backups for grading.
okis the primary assignment "autograder" in CS 61A, you may find it useful at times to write some of your own tests in the form of doctests. Then, you can try them out using the
-m doctestoption for Python).
Submitting the assignment
Now that you have completed your first CS 61A assignment, it's time to turn it in. You can follow these next steps to submit your work and get points.
Step 1: Submit with
In your terminal, make sure you are in the directory that contains
you aren't there yet, you can use this command:
ok with the
python3 ok --submit
This will prompt you for an email address if you haven't run Ok before. Please follow these directions, and refer to the troubleshooting steps on that page if you encounter issues. After that, Ok will print out a message like the following:
Submitting... 100% complete Submission successful for user: ... URL: https://okpy.org/...
Step 2: Verify your submission
You can follow the link that Ok printed out to see your final submission, or you can go to okpy.org. You will be able to view your submission after you log in.
Make sure you log in with the same email you provided when running
okfrom your terminal!
You should see a successful submission for Lab 0.
Congratulations, you just submitted your first CS 61A assignment!
More information on Ok is available here. You can also use the
python3 ok --help
This flag works just like it does for UNIX commands we used earlier.
Appendix: Useful Python command line options
When running a Python file, you can use options on the command line to inspect your code further. Here are a few that will come in handy. If you want to learn more about other Python command-line options, take a look at the documentation.
Using no command-line options will run the code in the file you provide and return you to the command line. For example, if we want to run
lab00.pythis way, we would write in the terminal:
-ioption runs your Python script, then opens an interactive session. In an interactive session, you run Python code line by line and get immediate feedback instead of running an entire file all at once. To exit, type
exit()into the interpreter prompt. You can also use the keyboard shortcut
Ctrl-Don Linux/Mac machines or
Ctrl-Z Enteron Windows.
If you edit the Python file while running it interactively, you will need to exit and restart the interpreter in order for those changes to take effect.
Here's how we can run
python3 -i lab00.py
-m doctest: Runs doctests in a particular file. Doctests are surrounded by triple quotes (
""") within functions.
Each test in the file consists of
>>>followed by some Python code and the expected output (though the
>>>are not seen in the output of the doctest command).
To run doctests for
lab00.py, we can run:
python3 -m doctest lab00.py