Samuel A. Rebelsky

Disclaimers: Yes, I am proud that my personal Web page reflects Web formatting of the late 1990's. (I would argue that almost anything is better than the repetitious Bootstrap sites out there.) I also don't mind that this page is almost always out of date, particularly because that amuses our alums.

Welcome to the front door (explanation) for SamR's Site, the primary Web site for Samuel A. Rebelsky. On this page and site, you can find all sorts of stuff, including ... (skip table of contents).

Current Courses

My list of current courses is my attempt to pretend that I keep this page up to date. It generally shows that I'm behind in keeping up on the page.

On Link Requests

If you plan to send me a message asking me to add a link to one of my pages, please read the following.

I regularly receive requests to add links to my Web pages. I charge a fee of $100 to consider such requests. If I consider the link appropriate, I will be happy to negotiate a fee for adding the page. Most fees are a minimum of $100, which represents my effort at adding the link.

I may waive both fees for people in academia and those at select nonprofits, such as EFF or Creative Commons.

Frequently Asked Questions

How do I schedule an appointment with you?
You should be able to book an appointment at If that doesn't work, send me an email message.
I'm a prospective student and have a lot of questions. Why should I study at a liberal arts college rather than a large university? Why should I study computer science at Grinnell rather than one of its peers? What kind of computer should I buy?
You can find answers to these questions, and many like them, at
What's the story with your logo?
For some time, I've sketched a smiley face with curly hair next to my signature when I write notes to friends. When I grew a beard, I added a beard. In Fall 2016, I was teaching a course on Processing, and thought it would be fun to write a program that draws that smiley face. (It actually animates the drawing, which makes it more fun. I may add some randomness to it eventually.)
Rumor (or rumour) has it that you are writing an essay each day. Where can I find those?
Where can I find your legendary primer entitled If You Ask A Prof A Question?
Are you ever likely to update that primer?
Maybe. I've set up a github repository to log some of the things to change.
I'm a Grinnell student planning to declare a computer science major. Will you be my academic advisor?
I am among the least organized people you will ever meet. You need only look into my office to figure that out. History suggests that I will lose your advisee folder as soon as I receive it, and I probably won't find it again until two years after you graduate. I am likely to forget anything we discuss, including your courses and that you are my advisee, unless my remembering inconveniences you. On the other hand, I am happy to discuss with you course selections and planning for life beyond Grinnell. I am happy to help you work through administrative issues at Grinnell (and, surprisingly, I'm good at navigating administrative stuff). I am also likely to care about you as a person. But I will discuss courses and life with you, help you with administrivia, and care about you whether or not you are my advisee. If you're willing to put up with those negatives, I am happy to serve as your advisor (or adviser, as the Grinnell Style guide suggests).
  I expect you to take both your liberal arts education and the short essay seriously. In particular, I expect evidence that you've thought carefully about the purpose and components of a liberal arts education. You should make sure to read the sections of the College Catalog that discuss a liberal arts education. You should also read William Cronon's Only Connect.
  When writing your declaration-of-major essay, you should make sure to clearly articulate your model for the structure and goals of a liberal arts education and to explain how your course selection both meets that structure and helps you achieve those goals. As in any argumentative essay, you should also make sure to acknowledge and address potential criticisms. You will be unlikely to be able to do that within the stated word limits. That's okay. The primary goal is for you to explain your education, not to stay within the word limits.
  Note that I will be on leave during the 2019-20 academic year. Because of that, I am primarily restricting advisees to students who have done summer research with me or who I am likely to be able to advise remotely.
I'm a current or former student. Will you write me a letter of recommendation or serve as a reference?
Almost certainly. I prefer to serve these roles primarily for students who stand out positively (so that I can write stronger recommendations) and who I know well. I also write much better letters (and serve as a better reference) for people who take the time to fill out my requested information for letters of recommendation form.
  The College informs me that you must also fill out a FERPA authorization form giving me permission to communicate to others about you. (I generally assume the request suffices, but I've been told to use the form in addition.)
  Even when I am willing to write a recommendation or serve as a reference, I reserve the right to refuse in certain circumstances, such as cases involving an institution I consider unethical or an opportunity for which I consider you insufficiently qualified.
  I also tend to push deadlines, so please drop me an email to remind me to get those recommendations done! (In fact, until I've told you that I've submitted a recommendation, you should assume that I haven't.)
Where are the pages with memories of your parents, Freda Rebelsky and Bill Rebelsky?
Do you ever update this page?
Rarely. If you note things that seem to need updates, please let me know.
Where can I get papers about your research projects?
Can you help me with the following homework question? ...
Not unless you're one of my students. If you plan to send me a question, you should read my policies for dealing with questions on homework.
Can I send you an unsolicited email advertisement?
Why do you have links to a Front Door and Origin rather than a Home Page.
I'm following the lead of my colleague, John David Stone. Dr. Stone notes that Home Page is ambiguous, because it can either mean entry to my site, or place which I use to start my browsing. He suggests using Front Door for the former and Origin for the latter.
Why do you have a Skip to Body link at the top of your page?
Usability guidelines suggest that you should provide an easy way to skip any large set of links. Since I sometimes have a lot of links at the top of the page, I include that link, too.
Where can I find you?
Take a look at my schedule. During the summer, and semesters on which I'm on leave, my whereabouts are unpredictable. (Okay, my whereabouts are unpredictable most of the time, but my schedule helps indicate where I am likely to be.)
I sent you a question N days ago and you haven't replied. Are you ever going to reply?
If I saw the question, I probably plan to reply or think I've replied already. If it's been a few days (or even one day), it never hurts to prod me again.
How can I get added to the list of alumni interested in teaching in Life Beyond Grinnell: Learning from CS Alumni?
I hope to be sending out a survey to all of our alums in the near future. Before then, you can send me an email. Since the course did not get scheduled for 2018-19 and I'm on leave in 2019-20, I am not sure when it will be offered next.
What software do you use to develop your Web pages?
For a number of years (well, since about 1996), I've used software that I developed called SiteWeaver. SiteWeaver has some features of Markdown (which didn't exist when I created SiteWeaver) and some features of XML/Docbook (which still strikes me as a bit high-powered for what I want to do). In particular, SiteWeaver lets me skip obvious tags, such as <p> and figures out certain tags, such as list items, just like Markdown does. At the same time, SiteWeaver lets me set variables and use logical tags, such as <programlisting>, just like Docbook does.
  After nearly twenty years of using SiteWeaver, I started to transition to using Markdown for simple pages and Docbook for more complex pages and sites. (I'll probably add a bit more stuff to make both work together.) As of Fall 2013, my course webs use Markdown and Docbook and the rest of the site uses both plus SiteWeaver. But I also hack out some random scripts from time to time to work in whatever seems easiest at the moment.
  At the suggestion of my junior colleague, Charlie Curtsinger, I am starting to switch to Jekyll with extended Markdown. We'll see how well that switch goes. I'm not looking forward to Jekyll's use of "convention over configuration".
Where can I find the code for Experiments in Java?
Where are the resources for the SIGCSE2009 Media Scripting workshop?
Does anyone still care?
Is it true that your former research and teaching assistant, Emily Jacobson, monitors your pages so that she can make fun of how little you change them?
I don't know. Let's see if she notices this change. She certainly used to check the Web sites for my new courses.
Followup: She did comment on this. That makes me happy.

Curriculum Vitae

My CV is available in PDF.


Samuel A. Rebelsky
1120 Main Street
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
Cell: 641-990-2947


Samuel A. Rebelsky
Department of Computer Science;
Grinnell College
Science 2806
1116 8th Avenue
Grinnell, Iowa 50112
641-269-4285 (fax)
Public Key:


If you're interested in more historical information, you can look at a partial list of course webs for courses I've taught at Grinnell.




Feel free to visit my origin (a list of links, term due to John Stone).

While there may be a fairly deep hierarchy at in my Grinnell pages, there are not index pages for every level. As I have time, I'll add indices. Let me know if you notice something missing.

Note: If you have concerns about my use of copyrighted materials or offensive content, please read the relevant College policies.

Copyright © 2017--20 Samuel A. Rebelsky.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 Unported License. To view a copy of this license, visit or send a letter to Creative Commons, 543 Howard Street, 5th Floor, San Francisco, California, 94105, USA.

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Samuel A. Rebelsky