Statement on Honor Code, Academic Conduct and Support Systems

Honor Code

In response to recommendations made by the Academic Integrity Task Force to the Dean, the USC Viterbi School of Engineering now has an Honor Code. The Code was developed by Viterbi students, and its text is as follows:

Engineering enables and empowers our ambitions and is integral to our identities. In the Viterbi community, accountability is reflected in all our endeavors.

  • Engineering+ Integrity.
  • Engineering+ Responsibility.
  • Engineering+ Community.
  • Think good. Do better. Be great.
These are the pillars we stand upon as we address the challenges of society and enrich lives.

During your time here at Viterbi, please know that academic and personal resources are available to help you.

Academic Conduct

The Viterbi School takes academic integrity violations seriously. Most of the violations that have been reported in previous years fall into four categories: code sharing, unauthorized collaboration, unfair advantage, and cheating on an exam.

These are specific vioations of the Student Conduct Code §§:

Code sharing - The submission of material authored by another person but represented as the student’s own work, whether that material is paraphrased or copied in verbatim or near-verbatim form. Note: Culpability is not diminished when plagiarism occurs in drafts which are not the final version. Also, if any material is prepared or submitted by another person on the student’s behalf, the student is expected to proofread the results and is responsible for all particulars of the final draft. (section 11.14.A)

Unauthorized collaboration - Unauthorized collaboration on a project, homework or other assignment. Collaboration will be considered unauthorized unless expressly part of the assignment in question or expressly permitted by the instructor. (section 1.14.B)

Unfair academic advantage - Any act that gains or is intended to gain an unfair academic advantage may be considered an act of academic dishonesty. (section 11.21)

Cheating in an exam - This may involve a number of violations, such as looking at classnotes during the exam, looking at other student's exam, "texting" with other students during the exam. See the section titled Two Exams for a list of specific violations.

Please note that that these are only the basic violations that we have encountered in the past, and there are many more. Please familiarize yourself with the discussion of plagiarism in SCampus in Section B.11.00, Behavior Violating University Standards and Appropriate Sanctions available at SCampus Part B Student Conduct Code. In the past few years, academic violations by students in CSCI571 have resulted in severe sanctions such as F in the course, 1-letter downgrade, and 3-month and 6-month suspensions.

All academic integrity violations will be reported to the Office of Academic Integrity.

The process for adjudicating these cases is available in SCampus, Part B, Section 13.

Public Cloud Source Code Repositories

In the Spring of 2017, two students posted their homeworks on Github's public repository. Repositories like GitHub and BitBucket are searchable by search engines like Google Search. Four (4) other students searched and found the code, downloaded and copied it. MOSS matched the code. In accordance with USC policy, all students were found to have commited plagiarism, the ones that copied and the one that let his code to be copied by posting it on a public online repository like GitHub.

In the Fall of 2017, two more students posted their homeworks on Github public repository. Again 6 more students found the code and copied it, MOSS matched the code, and all were found to have committed plagiarism and properly penalized.

In the Spring of 2022, 52 students were caught cheating in 2 of the homework assignments. All were reported and all received sanctions, which resulted in multiple letter grade losses and even F in the course.

Moral of the story. Anyone putting their source code in a public repositoy is playing with fire and putting their grade at risk. Public repositories like Github and BitBucket should not be used to store CSCI571 homework exercise source code. Private repositories from the same services, such as GitHub Classroom, can be used.

Other Types of Misconduct

See additional information in SCampus and university policies on scientific misconduct, Discrimination, sexual assault, and harassment are not tolerated by the university. You are encouraged to report any incidents to the Office of Equity and Diversity or to the Department of Public Safety This is important for the safety whole USC community. Another member of the university community - such as a friend, classmate, advisor, or faculty member - can help initiate the report, or can initiate the report on behalf of another person. The Center for Women and Men at provides 24/7 confidential support, and the sexual assault resource center webpage describes reporting options and other resources.

Support Systems

A number of USC’s schools provide support for students who need help with scholarly writing. Check with your advisor or program staff to find out more. Students whose primary language is not English should check with the American Language Institute which sponsors courses and workshops specifically for international graduate students. The Office of Disability Services and Programs provides certification for students with disabilities and helps arrange the relevant accommodations. If an officially declared emergency makes travel to campus infeasible, USC Emergency Information will provide safety and other updates, including ways in which instruction will be continued by means of blackboard, teleconferencing, and other technology.

Statement on Diversity

The diversity of the participants in this course is a valuable source of ideas, problem solving strategies, and engineering creativity. We encourage and support the efforts of all of our students to contribute freely and enthusiastically. We are members of an academic community where it is our shared responsibility to cultivate a climate where all students and individuals are valued and where both they and their ideas are treated with respect, regardless of their differences, visible or invisible.

Exams Scanning

Starting with the Fall 2019 semester, exams are scanned using Crowdmark and available online using D2L.

MOSS: Detecting Software Plagiarism in program code

This class uses Moss (for a Measure Of Software Similarity), an automatic system for determining the similarity of programs. Moss can currently analyze code written in several languages, including HTML, CSS, C, C++, Java, C#, Python, JavaScript, Swift, and Perl.