Solution notes are EVIL!!!

Solution notes seem like a good idea, but this is deceptive. Why?

First and foremost, there is the temptation to look at them without having first attempted the problem. This is an extremely bad idea, as once you've peeked, most of the educational benefit that you would have attained by attempting (and possibly getting stuck with) the question is irrevocably lost. Some of the problems we set are hard. That is deliberate, and in computer science many of the problems you meet in the future will be hard as well. The difference is that in the future you will not have access to hints of this kind.

"But!" I hear you protest. "Right now we have them and it helps to get a hint." Fine, but remember this: at some point, the oily, sickly fear of the exam hall will induce cold beads of sweat to trickle down your neck, and at that precise moment, you will thank me for emphasizing the need to be able to complete exam questions when solution notes are not available to you.

Second: solution notes are NOT model answers. They were never written with the aim of serving as model answers; in fact the only purpose they have is as a guide to examiners, not students. There is, at this level, no such thing as a model answer - there are most likely many answers to a given problem, of greater or lesser quality - and the time to accept this is right now.

Third: the supervision system is there for you to use. Solution notes give a hint at one way a question might be done. I can usually provide you with several different ways, the trade-offs between them, and an explanation as to their relative merits. Which do you think is more useful?