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A system to facilitate automated grading of projects submitted using UCSB's turnin program.
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Submit.cs Recommendation

This program was written in 2009 when turnin was the primary method for students to submit their assignments. As of 2013 an online submission system exists that is vastly superior in every way.

Please encourage your instructor to use this system even if you do not intend to use it for its testing capabilities.


All the files within this directory, except for this README of course need to be moved into the root directory of the class account. For completeness those files are:


The file is to be used by students on turn in. It simply wraps the turnin command, with the addition of sending a specially formatted email to the class account.

The .procmailrc file passes any of these specially formatted emails to the script auto_grade/ Because this script is run from the mailsever the first pass through auto_grade actually connects to the csil server to perform all the work. This worker machine can be changed to any other machine in CSIL. !!!IMPORTANT!!! In order for this to work, you must have passwordless SSH enabled such that the account can SSH into itself on another machine. This can be accomplished by simply running:

cat ~/.ssh/ >> ~/.ssh/authorized_keys

The auto_grade directory contains, and a directory, sample, that contains the configuration for the sample project.

The TURNIN directory also contains a directory, sample, which is where submissions for the sample project will go. It also contains a solution to the project which scores 9/10 on auto_grade.


Auto_grade comes with a sample project titled sample. The sample project is a simple program that counts the number of alphanumeric and whitespace characters in the input stream. There are two error cases in this sample project both of which must output an error message on a single line prefixed with ERROR: and then exit. The first error case is that no input is entered, and the second is a non-alphanumeric nor non-whitespace character is seen on the input. The successful output should be exactly: Alphanumeric: <NUM>\nWhitespace: <NUM>\n Where is replaced by the appropriate count for that type.

Once the auto_grade files have been copied in the correct location, you will need to perform the following to test it using the sample application.

  1. Generate output files for the sample project. From any directory, execute the following:

     cp ~/auto_grade/sample/Makefile ~/auto_grade/sample/solution/
     make -C ~/auto_grade/sample/solution/
     ~/auto_grade/ --generate-expected sample
  2. Test user bboe's solution to the sample project. From your home directory, execute:

     ~/auto_grade/ -v --process sample bboe

    The -v argument means to print the output to the screen. Without that argument the output will be emailed to the student.

  3. Submit your own version of the sample project to test the end to end workings of auto_grade. In your home account (not class account) create a file called char_count.c and fill it in as you desire. When ready run the following, of course, replacing <CLASS_ACCOUNT> with the class account you are setting auto_grade up on:

     ~<CLASS_ACCOUNT>/ sample@<CLASS_ACCOUNT> char_count.c

    If everything is setup correctly, you should receive the normal turnin prompt ensuring you want to submit. Following successful submission, you should nearly immediately receive an email to your <USER> email address containing your submission's score.

  4. View all the scores students have received sorted and grouped by student:

     ./auto_grade/ --scores sample

Adapting to your project

It should be relatively simple to adapt auto_grade for your needs. The best reference is the file auto_grade/sample/ which documents what is done in the grading of that particular project.

Additionally check out the extra functions provided by auto_grade in auto_grade/ If you have any questions please send them to Bryce Boe (account bboe).

Known Issues / Potential Problems

  • Students' code can do something mallicious such as executing rm -rf ~ thus deleting all the files in the class's home directory. Along these lines, students could also retrieve all other student's submissions. I trust the students wont do this as doing so would be grounds for expulsion from the University. The solution to this would be to run their code in a chroot jail however that requires special permissions.

  • Students' code can retrieve the contents of the input files by simply echoing the input. The contents will then appear in their diff. The quantity of diff output can be modified to prevent this, however, without output students cannot see what they are doing wrong.

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