Collaboration Policy

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We encourage students to discuss assignments in this subject with other students and with the teaching staff to better understand the concepts. However, it's also critical for your individual learning to be sure you devote concentrated independent effort to solving all the problems.

This page is designed to give you a sense of what kind of interactions are allowed, and which are not, when working on 6.390 coursework. The policies below are in place in order to help with our primary goal for the exercises and homework, (i.e., that you deepen your understanding of the course materials by working through them).

All Assignments: Sharing of Work

Regardless of the assignment, you should never use results from other students, nor from the staff (from this year or from previous years), in preparing your solutions to online homework problems, labs, exams, or written answers. You should not take credit for computer code or graphics that were generated by other students unless you developed those materials while working with your assigned lab partner(s).

In addition, students should never share their solutions (or staff solutions) with other students, including through public code repositories such as Github.

Exercises and Homework ("Online Tutor Problems")

You are expected to give your best effort and work as far as you can on your own for every problem before asking for help or using other resources.

If you are still stuck on a problem, you may talk about the question with a staff member or a fellow student, but all exchanges of information should be general in nature. See the sample interactions below for examples of what is considered okay, and what is inappropriate.

After having received help on an exercise and reaching a solution, you should wait a day or so, and then try to work through the exercise again from scratch on your own.


You can work with one or more partners in the lab sections. You and your partner(s) can equally share all results, code, and graphs that you develop as a team.

You should work through the entirety of the lab as a team to produce one result, and each partner should be prepared to discuss their results with a staff member during a lab checkoff. A "divide-and-conquer" approach, where each partner only works through a portion of the lab, is unacceptable.

Each partner should enter tutor answers on their own account, and by the end of the lab, each partner should have a copy of any results, code, and graphs that you developed as a team.


Incidents of plagiarism will result in a grade of zero on the assignment and, at the discretion of the staff, may be reported to the Committee on Discipline (COD). More information about what constitutes plagiarism can be found at

Sample Interactions

Scenario: Alyssa and Ben sit down to work on a homework set together...

After trying a question on his own, Ben asks Alyssa for help. Alyssa asks Ben a leading question that helps him discover a reasonable next step to take when solving the problem.


After trying a question on his own, Ben asks Alyssa for help. Alyssa talks Ben through some key ideas using a separate but related example problem. Ben then tries to apply these ideas to the problem he was stuck on.


Alyssa notices that Ben is struggling with a problem, so she gives him her answer and explains to him how she arrived at it.


After trying a question on his own, Ben asks Alyssa for help, and she explains that it is easy: you just take equation 3.12 from this book, insert equations 2.5 and 3.2, integrate, and you should get the right answer!


After trying a question on his own, Ben asks Alyssa for help. Alyssa describes in detail the steps she took to solve the problem.


Bob has access to a "bible" of 6.390 answers from previous terms, which he consults when he gets stuck.


After having made reasonable efforts individually, Alyssa and Ben talk in general terms about different approaches to doing a problem. They draw diagrams on a whiteboard. When Alyssa discovers a useful Python structure, she mentions it to Ben. When Ben makes an observation about op-amps, he shares it with Alyssa.


As Alyssa and Ben type lines of code, they speak the code aloud to the other person, to make sure they both have the right code.


As Alyssa and Ben each solve a circuit, they speak aloud the steps they are taking, to make sure they are both following the right steps.


In a tricky part of the homework, Alyssa and Ben look at each other's screens and compare them so that they can get their code right.


After they have both solved a problem, Alyssa and Ben talk in detail about the approaches they took, and the relative merits/drawbacks of each.


Alyssa and Ben sit down to work on a homework set together. They decide to divide up the problems: Alyssa will work through the even-numbered problems, and Ben the odd-numbered ones. When they are done, they will discuss their work with each-other so that each has a complete solution.


Scenario: Louis had a very busy week, and he has made almost no progress on the week's homework. Ben wants to help.

Ben works near Louis and answers his questions when they come up, after Louis has made a reasonable effort.


Ben has been helping Louis for a while, but he needs to get back to his own work. He gives his code to Louis, after Louis promises only to look at it when he really has to.