Lab 0: Getting Started

Due by 11:59pm on Wednesday, August 31.

Starter Files

Download Inside the archive, you will find starter files for the questions in this lab, along with a copy of the Ok autograder.


This lab explains how to setup your computer to complete assignments and introduces some of the basics of Python. If you need any help at any time through the lab, please feel free to come to office hours or post on Ed.

This lab is required. The setup is necessary in completing all other assignments in the course. You may not use a lab drop on this assignment. If you joined the course late, you can request an extension.

To complete the assignment, you must complete all of the steps from the Doing the Assignment section onwards, including the WWPD question, the code-writing question, and submitting with OK.

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.

Here's a breakdown of the major parts of the lab:

  • Setup: Setting up the essential software for the course. This will require several components, listed below.

    • Install a Terminal: Install a terminal so you can interact with files in this course and run OK commands. If you have a terminal on your computer and feel comfortable using it, you can skip this part.
    • Install Python 3: Install the Python programming langauge to your computer. If you already have Python 3.7 or later (ideally Python 3.9) installed, you can skip this part.
    • Install a Text Editor: Install software to edit .py files for this course (e.g. VSCode, Atom, etc.). You can skip this part if you already have a text editor you like.
  • Walkthrough: Using the Terminal: This walks you through how to use the terminal and Python interpreter. If you already feel comfortable with both of these you do not need to read this section.
  • Walkthrough: Organizing your Files: This section walks you through how to use your terminal to organize and navigate files for this course. Everyone should at least skim this section, as it has important information specific to this class, but if you are already comfortable navigating directory structures with a terminal much of this will feel familar.
  • Review: Python Basics: This is a review on many of the basic components of Python introduced in lecture. You should have already seen this material, but we like to include a brief review of relevant content on each lab in case you need a refresher on anything.
  • Required: Doing the Assignment: You must complete this section to get points for the assignment. Here you will practice the different types of problems you will be asked to do in lab, homework, and project assignments for this course. The main goal of this assignment is to give you practice using our software.
  • Required: Submitting the Assignment: You must complete this section to get points for the assignment. This will walk you through how to turn in your work after completing the previous section and how to verify that your work is turned in on OKPY.
  • Appendix: Useful Python Command Line Options: These are commands that are useful in debugging your work, but not required to complete the lab. We include them because we imagine they're likely to be helpful to you throughout the course.


Install a terminal

The terminal is a program that allows you to interact with your computer by entering commands.


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.


Option 1 (WSL): You can get a terminal on Windows using the Windows Subsystem for Linux, or WSL. This can be accessed through the terminal program Ubuntu, which emulates the Ubuntu Operating System (OS) on your Windows computer. This will make most of our assignments work smoothly on your device.

To install Ubuntu for Windows, click on Start and search for PowerShell. Right-click and select "Run as Administrator." Then, in the PowerShell window, type wsl --install and press Enter. The command must be typed in that exact order. This should automatically complete the setup process (follow any instructions that you may be given on the screen).

Next, download Ubuntu from the Windows store, or you can run:

wsl --install -d ubuntu

You may also find it helpful to visit Ubuntu's download guide.

Once the installation completes, search for Ubuntu in your Start menu. The first launch may take a few minutes, but subsequent launches should be quick.

Alternative option: If you are having trouble with WSL installation, you can just skip this step and use Windows PowerShell instead 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 cd and ls will work (python will work after the setup), which encompass most of the Bash commands you need for this course.

Install Python 3

Python 3 is the primary programming language used in this course. Use the instructions below to install Python 3. (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 version with python3 ––version.


Download and install Python 3 (64-bit). You may need to right-click the download icon and select "Open". After installing, please close and reopen your Terminal.

If you have Homebrew installed, you can also install Python3 by running brew install python3.


If you'll be using PowerShell instead of WSL, 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 are using WSL, install Python by typing sudo apt install python3 into Ubuntu, and hitting enter. Once it's finished installing, you can test that it installed correctly by typing python3 --version. You should see a message in response that shows you your python3 version: Python 3.9.6.


Run sudo apt install python3 (Ubuntu), sudo pacman -S python3 (Arch), or the command for your distro.


Download Python from the download page.

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.

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.

If you're using Windows and followed our Python setup process, VS Code will work best for you (since it has WSL support). After installing VS Code, install the Remote Development extension pack. Then, you can use the instructions in this section of the VS Code docs to open WSL folders in VS Code.

We highly recommend using VS Code for this class. This will help us support you best, as most of staff uses VS Code as well.

Another nice feature of VS Code is that it features an "embedded terminal". So, when running terminal commands for this class, you can manage everything in VS Code rather than navigating back and forth between VS Code and a separate terminal application. You can open an embedded terminal by going to Terminal > New Terminal in VS Code's navigation bar.

Open the VS Code embedded terminal

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:

  • PyCharm: A desktop editor designed for Python.
  • Sublime Text: A text editor that works with code.

Pair Programming

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:

Backup setups

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:

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).

61A Code:

You can use 61A Code, the course online environment where you can edit, run, debug, visualize, and share programs with staff. The documentation for 61A Code can be found here: 61A Code docs.

Note: You will not be able to run ok commands 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:

  1. Visit 61A Code.
  2. Open an existing file: go into your cs61a folder, then the assignment folder (lab00), in which you can find the files for this assignment.
  3. 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.
  4. To open the terminal, click on "Console".
  5. 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:

  1. Visit Datahub.
  2. Upload the assignment zip file to datahub.
  3. Open a terminal by pressing "New" in the top left corner and selecting the terminal.
  4. Navigating to where the zip file is and running unzip
  5. Opening up the code file ( and typing in it, then saving.
  6. Now you can submit the lab.

Walkthrough: Using the terminal

First, open a terminal window.

starting the terminal

Home Directory

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 Bash) or % (indicating zsh).

Try running echo "$HOME". That command should display the full PATH to your home directory. It should look something like this:



A PATH is like an address: it tells both you and the computer the full path (or route) to a certain folder. Remember that you can access the files and directories (folders) on your computer in two different ways. You can either use the terminal (which is a command line interface or CLI) or you can use Finder. Finder is an example of a graphics user interface (or GUI). The techniques for navigating are different, but the files are the same. For example, here's how my lab folder for CS 61A looks in my GUI:

GUI folder example

And here's how the exact same folder looks in terminal:

CLI folder exmaple

Notice the yellow box shows you the PATH in both cases, and the purple ellipse shows you the contents of the "labs" folder.

Terminal vs Python Interpreter

Let's pause and think about the difference between the terminal and the Python interpreter.

interpreter vs terminal

  1. Which is the terminal?
  2. Which one is the Python interpreter?
  3. Which one is my code editor?
  4. And how can you tell?

Both A and D are my terminal. This is where you can run bash commands like cd and ls. D is the terminal that is built-in to VS Code.

B is the Python interpreter. You can tell because of the >>> prompt that means you've started a Python interpreter. You can also tell because the command that started it is visible: python3. The python3 command launches a Python interpreter. If you type a bash command into the Python interpreter, you'll probably get a syntax error! Here's an example:

interpreter syntax error

C is my code editor. This is where I can write Python code to be executed via my terminal.

Walkthrough: 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 your terminal:


The 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, after you type ls you should see the contents of your home directory.


In Ubuntu, you won't see any files in ~ when you type ls. Instead, you'll first need to change directories (see below).

Changing directories

To move into another directory, use the cd command (change directory).


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 that directory:

cd Desktop

If you're not already in your home directory, try cd ~/Desktop. This is telling the terminal the PATH where you want to go.


On Windows, first change into your main home directory.

cd /mnt/c/Users/

Now try the ls command from earlier. You should see a few folders. One of those folders should match your username. For example, assuming your username is OskiBear, you should see a folder named OskiBear. (Note that your Windows username might be different from your Ubuntu username) Let's change into that folder:

cd /mnt/c/Users/OskiBear/Desktop

If you still can't find your Desktop directory, ask for help on Piazza or in office hours.

Making new directories

The next command is called mkdir, which makes a new directory. Let's make a directory called cs61a in your Desktop directory to store all of the assignments for this class:

mkdir cs61a

A folder named cs61a will appear on your Desktop. You can verify this by using the ls command again or by checking your Desktop using Explorer (Windows) or Finder (Mac).

At this point, let's create some more directories. First, make sure you are in the cs61a directory (mac: ~/Desktop/cs61a, Windows: /mnt/c/Users/Desktop/cs61a). Then, create two new folders, one called projects and the other called lab. Both should be inside of your cs61a folder:


cd ~/Desktop/cs61a
mkdir projects
mkdir lab


cd /mnt/c/Users/OskiBear/Desktop/cs61a
mkdir projects
mkdir lab

Now if you list the contents of the directory (using ls), you'll see two folders, projects and lab.

cs61a directory

More directory changing

There are a few ways to return to the home directory:

  • cd .. (two dots). The .. means "the parent directory", or one directory above your current directory.
  • cd ~ (the tilde). Remember that ~ means home directory, so this command will always change to your home directory.
  • cd (cd on its own). Typing just cd is a shortcut for typing cd ~.

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!

Downloading the assignment

If you haven't already, download the zip archive,, 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, is probably located in a directory called Downloads in your home directory. Use the ls command to check:

ls ~/Downloads

If you don't see, 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 lab00.

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. Clicking on a .zip file in Mac will automatically unzip. On Windows, you need to first click on the .zip file, then choose "Extract all". If you run into trouble, you can search online for how to unzip a file.

Here's a way to unzip using the terminal:

Using a terminal, you can unzip the zip file from the command line. First, cd into the directory that contains the zip file:

cd ~/Downloads

Now, run the unzip command with the name of the zip file:


You only need to unzip the files once.

Once you unzip, you'll have a new folder called lab00 which contains the following files (check it out with cd lab00 and ls):

  • 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 ok

Moving files

Move the lab files to the lab folder you created earlier:


mv ~/Downloads/lab00 ~/Desktop/cs61a/lab


mv /mnt/c/Users/Desktop/lab00 /mnt/c/Users/Desktop/cs61a/lab

The mv command will move the ~/Downloads/lab00 folder into the ~/Desktop/cs61a/lab folder. If you prefer, you can also move the file by dragging and dropping it into the correct folder in your graphic file explorer, which is probably more familar and will have exactly the same result.

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:


cd ~/Desktop/cs61a/lab/lab00


cd /mnt/c/Users/Desktop/cs61a/lab/lab00


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.

Review: Python basics

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:


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

Primitive expressions only take one step to evaluate. These include numbers and booleans, which just evaluate to themselves.

>>> 3
>>> 12.5
>>> True

Arithmetic Expressions

Numbers may be combined with mathematical operators to form compound expressions. In addition to the + operator (addition), the - operator (subtraction), the * operator (multiplication) and the ** operator (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
>>> (2 + 6) / 4
>>> 7 // 4        # Floor division (rounding down)
>>> 7 % 4         # Modulus (remainder of 7 // 4)


A string consists of one or more characters wrapped in either single quotes ('') or double quotes (""). Strings actually differ slightly from primitive expressions, but for the purposes of this assignment can be treated similarly as expressions which evaluate to themselves. You'll learn more about the intricacies of strings in the coming weeks in this course!

>>> "hello"       # Both single and double quotes work!
>>> 'world!'

Assignment Statements

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 = sign 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

Required: Doing the assignment

When working on assignments, ensure that your terminal's working directory is correct (which is likely where you unzipped the assignment).

What Would Python Do? (WWPD)

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
>>> 7 / 2
>>> 7 // 2
>>> 7 % 2 # 7 modulo 2, the remainder when dividing 7 by 2.
>>> x = 20
>>> x + 2
>>> x
>>> y = 5 >>> y = y + 3 >>> y * 2
>>> y = y // 4 >>> y + x

Code writing questions

Understanding problems

Labs will also consist of function writing problems. Open up in 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 this:

text editor

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?"

Here, we've circled the docstrings and the doctests to make them easier to see:

text editor annotated

In twenty_twenty_two,

  • The docstring tells you to "come up with the most creative expression that evaluates to 2022," but that you can only use numbers and arithmetic operators + (add), * (multiply), and - (subtract).
  • The doctest checks that the function call twenty_twenty_two() should return the number 2022.

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.

Writing code

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 2022. 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.

Running tests

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 directories).

In that directory, you can type ls to verify that there are the following three files:

  • 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 command:

python3 ok

Remember, if you are using Windows and the python3 command doesn't work, try using just python or 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_two

>>> from lab00 import *
>>> twenty_twenty_two()

# Error: expected
#     2022
# 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.

While ok is 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 doctest option for Python).

Required: 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 ok

In your terminal, make sure you are in the directory that contains ok. If you aren't there yet, you can use this command:

cd ~/Desktop/cs61a/lab/lab00

Next, use ok with the --submit option:

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: ...

Step 2: Verify your submission

You can follow the link that Ok printed out to see your final submission, or you can go to 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 ok from 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 --help flag:

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 this way, we would write in the terminal:

  • -i: The -i option 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-D on Linux/Mac machines or Ctrl-Z Enter on 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 interactively:

    python3 -i
  • -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, we can run:

     python3 -m doctest