Computer Science
Technical Database

Class Distribution Lists

Document: class-lists

Last Modified: Mon Sep 3 17:58:37 EDT 2001

Class distribution lists for all of our department courses can be found in /cs/dept/dist_archive on the Unix systems. The lists are generated every morning at 7:00 am, though the data used to generate the lists is always one day old. Class distribution lists are considered confidential, and are therefore only available to faculty. Graduate students who need a class distribution list for TAing should get that list from the faculty member teaching the course.

At the root of the distribution hierarchy is a list of sessions for which class distribution lists are available. In each session, there are directories representing the term - F, W, and S for fall, winter, and summer terms respectively. /cs/dept/dist is a symbolic link that points to the current session/term combination in the /cs/dept/dist_archive directory in order to make it easier for you to access the most current distribution lists.

The course distribution files are text files named according to the following convention: COSC<COURSE><SECTION>. For example, for COSC 3301.03A in the 1997-98 fall session, there is one file, /cs/dept/dist/1997-98/F/COSC3301A. The distribution files contain lines of the following format:

CS account<tab>YORK Account<tab>student number<tab>Last Name, First Name

For our undergraduate students, the CS account is the student's csxxxxxx account on our Unix systems. If the student is enrolled in a course and does not yet have a CS account, this field will contain <NO-CS-ACCT>. For graduate students, this field contains the student's graduate account on our Unix systems or <NO-CS-ACCT>. The cs accounts are determined by comparing the students student number received from CCS' MAYA system to the student numbers in our own user database.

The next field is the student's York e-mail account name which is most often in the format yuxxxxxx. This field can be used for e-mailing a student if the student does not yet have a CS account, and you wish to reach him. If the student does not have a York e-mail account, this field will be <NO-YU-ACCT>.

The next field is the student's student number. This field is self-explanatory.

The next field is the student's name field. This field is also self-explanatory. However, note that the MAYA database does not contain middle initials for student names.

Dropped and Cancelled Courses

Each day, as the new distribution lists are created, the existing lists are compared to the old lists creating a list of students who have dropped each course. A student is considered to have dropped a course if he appears in the distribution data one day, and does not appear the next day. The list of students who have dropped a particular course can be obtained by looking at the file "dropped.COURSE" in the distribution area. Note that we only started doing this in the second week of January 2000, so we have likely missed students who have dropped the courses before this time.

If a student re-registers in a course, he will be removed from the dropped listing for that course and re-added to the course file. However, it should be noted that if a student leaves one section of a course and joins a different section, he will remain in the drop file for the previous section of the course.

If a class exists in the distribution data one day and every student drops the course the next day, it is assumed that the class has been cancelled, and the last class distribution data for this course will be moved to "cancelled.COURSE".


Two commands exist that have been created to help in working with class distribution lists - coursemail and courses.

The coursemail command enables you to send mail to all students in a course or list of courses.

 coursemail <options> [<distribution list] ...>] 
The coursemail(1) man page provides all the details, but a sample is provided for your convenience.
coursemail -i myfile -s "Subject" COSC1020A COSC1020B 
will send the contents of myfile in the current directory to all students registered in COSC1020.03A and COSC1020.03B in a message with subject 'Subject'. coursemail can also be used to list e-mail addresses for students enrolled in particular courses so that you can import the addresses into another mail program. Please see the man page for details on using coursemail for this task.

Faculty can see which CS courses a student has been and is enrolled in using the courses command as follows:

courses [-a] [-s <session>] <search string>
By default, the courses command will search for the search string in all the class distribution lists for the current session. If you specify a -a, courses will search for the search string in all distribution lists for all sessions. If you specify particular sessions with -s, courses will only search through those particular sessions for the search string. The search string can be a student number, a CS number, a YU number, a name, or even a part of a name. You can see the courses(1) man page for details.

For example, courses cs901001 will display courses cs901001 is enrolled in this session. On the other hand, courses -a cs901001 will display courses cs901001 has been and is enrolled in.


If you have questions about class distribution lists, please mail tech. If you are a faculty member, and you are in Netscape on a Unix system right now, click here to view the class distribution list hierarchy. If you are not on a York CS Unix system, this file URL will fail.