To get more points, or not to get more points, that is the question

I got email today from a student who got 90 out of 100 on the 3rd program,
and feels he should get back the other 10 points.

I decided to share this with everyone in the interest of (a) fairness, and
(b) saving my TAs some unnecessary future work when some students are at 
a point where they have to choose whether or not to follow some very 
straightforward instructions.  I know almost all of you are focusing on 
the midterm right now, so feel free to file this away until after the mid-term.

The saga starts with a student writing:

	> Hi Dr Patt,
	> I lost points in every instance where a control signal of 1 or 2 was
	> present. I interprested the first signal 
	> as control signal COND0 and the
	> second signal as COND1. On your handout, you have a schematic of the
	> microsequencer circuit where the BEN bit was controlled by 01 and the
	> Ready bit is controlled by 10. In your table of microsequencer control
	> signals (table A.2) you list Ready before BEN, 
	> implying that 01 controlled
	> the Ready bit and 10 controlled the BEN bit.
 	> I was confused by this discrepancy, and foolishly chose the circuit
	> implementation and did not change it even after you said to follow the
	> microsequencer table. I was hoping you would overlook my inability to
	> follow directions and allow me to correct 
	> these things on the regrade for no penalty.
	> Thanks,
	> <<name withheld to protect ...>>

Since my TAs spend a lot of time pouring over the solutions you turn in,
I felt it was necessary to have them weigh in, so I would have a better
picture of the situation.  

My TA's response: 

	Professor Patt,

	There is no discrepancy between COND bits in the microsequence logic 
	and in tableA.2 in the handout. BEN is controlled by COND[1:0] = 10 
	and Ready is controlled by COND[1:0] = 01 on the both. 

	He got 90 out of 100 because he did not followed the instruction 
	regarding the encoding for the control signals in the microinstructions
        (Recall that you wanted us to grade the control store separately. 
	20 points are assigned to the correctness of control store. He lost 
	10 out of 20points) . But his implementation works fine for all the 
	test program cases. 

	Because we emphasized the encoding conventions for two weeks in 
	discussion section, and it is spelled out very clearly on the 
	Clarification of the Lab, and they all knew that we were going 
	to grade accordingly, I do not think we should give some points 
	back to him. What do you think?

	- Your TA

90 out of 100, and he wants more points because it was important for him
to not worry about using the correct encoding even if it meant extra work
for the TAs who have to pour over all the solutions submitted.  Guess I am
not terribly sympathetic.

Good luck on the midterm.  See you all Sunday evening if you wish, and
Monday in class.

Yale Patt