Homework 0.1

Homework 0.1 Intro

In this homework, you'll use what you've learned so far to solve some problems. You'll also be doing a bit of reading and introducing yourself.

Remember: you can view the due date for this homework on either the front page or the deadlines spreadsheet.


A template file provides the basic skeleton for a homework assignment.

If you're on a lab computer, type the following command into your terminal to copy the template to the current directory (note the period at the end):

    cp ~cs61as/autograder/templates/hw0-1.rkt .

Or you can download the template here.

Language Declaration

You may have noticed that the first line says

#lang racket

This tells the Racket interpreter that your file consists of Racket code. This might seem redundant, but the Racket interpreter is also capable of understanding other Lisp-family languages, including user-defined ones.

The bottom line is that you must include this line at the top of every Racket file you write. If you don't, you'll see this error message:

default-load-handler: expected a `module' declaration


An autograder is a program that checks the validity of your code for a particular assignment.

If you are working on the lab computers, the grader command will run the autograder; see below for details. If you are working on your own personal machine, you should download grader.rkt and the HW 0-1 tests.

Exercise 0

First, introduce yourself to the staff!

In your homework file, answer the following questions:

  1. What is your name?
  2. What is your major?
  3. Are you a returning student? (That is, did you take 61AS last semester?)
  4. What made you to take 61AS?
  5. Tell us some interesting things about yourself.

Now, see if you can find a post on Piazza called "Hello World!". Make a follow-up on that post and introduce yourself. Be sure to include:

  • Name
  • Major and year
  • One interesting fact about yourself
  • Why you're taking the course

Exercise 1

Here is the syntax for defining a procedure:

(define ([name of procedure] [variables]) [body of procedure])

For example, you saw how to define a square procedure:

(define (square x) (* x x))

After defining it, you can use the procedure square to find the square of any number you want:

-> (square 3)

Using square, define a procedure sum-of-squares that takes two arguments and returns the sum of the squares of the two arguments:

-> (sum-of-squares 3 4)

Make sure you test your work!

After you've written your procedure, run the autograder for this exercise and check if you defined your procedure correctly. If you are on the lab computers, type the following into your terminal:

grader hw0-1 hw0-1.rkt sum-of-squares

If you are working on your own machine, type the following into your terminal:

racket -tm grader.rkt -- hw0-1-tests.rkt hw0-1.rkt sum-of-squares


Before we present the next exercise, we need to cover some more Racket features. Students taking Unit 0 should consider this a preview—we'll explore these features more in Lesson 0.2.

Words and Sentences

We've shown you some interesting procedures that allow you to do stuff to words and sentences:

  • ' makes a word (e.g., 'pi) or a sentence (e.g., '(good morning)).
  • first takes a word and returns the first letter of that word, or it takes a sentence and returns the first word of that sentence.
  • butfirst (or bf) takes a word/sentence and returns everything but the first letter/word.

Keep these procedures and concepts in the back of your mind. They'll come back in later exercises and lessons.

Special Forms

Racket has some control features that allow you to choose what to do next based on a test. These features are examples of special forms—procedures with special evaluation rules. We'll talk about special forms more later in the course.


In Racket, if is a special form that takes three arguments. if always evaluates its first argument. If the value of that argument is true, then if evaluates its second argument and returns its value. If the value of the first argument is false, then if evaluates its third argument and returns that value.

Here is an example of proper if syntax:

(if (= 5 (+ 2 3))
    (/ 1 0))

The result of this example expression is the word 'yay!. Because the first expression is true, the last argument to if is not evaluated, which means we don't get a divide-by-zero error.


cond is a special form that acts just like if, except with multiple options. Each condition is tested one at a time until one evaluates to true. An else clause is typically used at the end to capture cases where all prior conditions evaluated to false.

Here is an example:

(cond ((= 3 1) 'wrong!)
      ((= 3 2) 'still-wrong!)
      (else 'yay))

In this example, the first two conditions return false, so the overall expression evaluates to the word 'yay!.

Some good procedures to use for the test cases are >, <, and =.


and checks whether all of its arguments are true:

-> (and (> 5 3) (< 2 4))
-> (and (> 5 3) (< 2 1))

(Note that #t and true can be used interchangeably, as can #f and false.)

Why is and a special form? Because it evaluates its arguments and stops as soon as it can, returning false as soon as any argument evaluates to false. This turns out to be useful. Suppose we have the following:

(define (divisible? big small)
  (= (remainder big small) 0))
(define (num-divisible-by-4? x)
  (and (number? x) (divisible? x 4)))

Then we can do this:

-> (num-divisible-by-4? 16)
-> (num-divisible-by-4? 6) 
-> (num-divisible-by-4? 'aardvark)

Notice how the last call didn't fail. Since (number? 'aardvark) evaluates to false, and returns #f before evaluating its second argument. Calling (divisible? 'aardvark 4) would cause an error:

-> (divisible? 'aardvark 4)
; remainder: contract violation
;   expected: integer?
;   given: 'aardvark
;   argument position: 1st
; [,bt for context]

This message simply says that the procedure remainder reported an error because it expected an integer but instead got 'aardvark.

A subtle point about and: if all its arguments evaluate to true, instead of simply returning #t it will return the value of its last argument.

-> (and #t (+ 3 5))
-> (and (- 2 1) 100)

Anything that is not #f is #t. So, 100 is true, 'foo is true, and so on.


or checks whether any of its arguments are true.

-> (or (> 5 3) (< 2 1))
-> (or (> 5 6) (< 2 1))

Why is or a special form? It evaluates its arguments and stops as soon as one of its arguments evaluates to true.

> (or #f #t (/ 1 0))

A subtle point about or: like and, if any one of its arguments evaluate to true, or returns the value of the evaluated expression rather than just simply #t.

-> (or #f (+ 1 2 3))
-> (or (* 3 4) (- 2 1))

Exercise 2

Part a

Take a moment to read through the above and try everything out in the interpreter. Then, write a procedure can-drive that takes the age of a person as an argument. If the age is below 16, return the sentence '(Not yet). Otherwise, return the sentence '(Good to go). Make sure to test your code in the interpreter.

After you've finished this exercise, run the autograder on your code to check if it's correct by typing the following into your terminal:

grader hw0-1 hw0-1.rkt can-drive

Or, on your own machine:

racket -tm grader.rkt -- hw0-1-tests.rkt hw0-1.rkt can-drive

Part b

Write a procedure fizzbuzz that takes a number and outputs the word 'fizz if the number is divisible by 3, 'buzz if it's divisible by 5, 'fizzbuzz if it's divisible by both 3 and 5, and otherwise, the number itself. You may find the function remainder useful. Make sure to test your code in the interpreter.

After you've finished this exercise, check your solution by typing the following into your terminal:

grader hw0-1 hw0-1.rkt fizzbuzz

Or, on your own machine:

racket -tm grader.rkt -- hw0-1-tests.rkt hw0-1.rkt fizzbuzz

Exercise 3

Why did the Walrus cross the Serengeti?

To figure out the answer, look on Piazza for the post labeled "Answer to Homework 0-1 Exercise 3".

Exercise 4

See what happens when you type the following snippets of code into the interpreter:

(define (infinite-loop) (infinite-loop))

(if (= 3 6)
  (/ 4 2))

Now we want to see if we can write a procedure that behaves just like if. Here's our attempt:

(define (new-if test then-case else-case)
  (if test

Let's try it out:

(new-if (= 3 6)
  (/ 4 2))

It didn't work!

Here is another example that breaks:

(new-if (= 3 6)
  (/ 1 0)
  (/ 4 2))

Why didn't new-if behave like if? What can you learn about if from this example? Think about this and try to figure it out. Expect to see it again.

Recommended Readings

The following readings are recommended:

Manual Testing

Before running the autograder, you should test your code manually in the Racket interpreter. This is important because the autograder doesn't always test all possible cases.

To load individual definitions into Racket, start the Racket interpreter from your terminal by typing


then copy and paste definitions from your file into the interpreter.

To load your entire file into Racket, use

racket -it hw0-1.rkt

Running the Autograder

Before submitting any homework, there are two checks you need to make:

  1. Your homework must load into the Racket interpreter. Any submissions that do not load will not receive any credit.
  2. Run your homework through the autograder to check your answers. If you cannot get your homework to pass all the autograder tests, don't fret. Submit your homework anyway. Remember, homeworks are graded based on effort.

To run the autograder, type the following into the terminal:

grader <assignment name> <file name>

For example, to run the autograder on this homework, type the following into the terminal:

 grader hw0-1 hw0-1.rkt

Submit Your Homework!

For instructions, see this guide. It covers basic terminal commands and assignment submission.

If you have any trouble submitting, do not hesitate to ask a TA!