Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Dept. of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
Fall Semester, 2007
6.01: Introduction to EECS 1


In this course, we'll be using the Python programming language. We'll also be using a Python package called SoaR to control the robots, both the real ones and in simulation. Soar was written for EECS1 by Michael Haimes with help from Ross Glashan. It's based on a platform called PyRo that's used for robot programming at several schools.

You'll also need an editor and/or development environment for writing and debugging your programs. This term, we will be using IDLE, a programming environment specially designed for Python programming. If you prefer to use emacs, there are instructions available for setting up Python mode.

The course will have its own computers for you to work with in lab, that hook to the robots.

In order to do the homework, you'll need to have access to a machine (yours or someone else's) that has Python, SoaR, and the IDLE installed. You can use use GNU/Linux, Windows, or MacOS, as you prefer. The installation instructions are different for the different operating systems.

There are a lot of steps to the software installation, so be sure to ask the staff for help if you have any questions at all.

Using the 6.01 lab laptops and getting the lab software

You should log in to the lab laptops using your Athena username and password; they should behave as Athena machines. When you want to first set up your Athena account for 6.01 (eg, during the first lab), you should run the following command on one of the lab laptops or on any Athena machine (including Athena dialups such as or

athrun 6.01 setup
This command will create the Desktop/6.01 directory in your Athena home directory and checkout the 6.01 software repository into that directory. Your Desktop/6.01 directory will include the "lab1" subdirectory (which will contain the files associated with that lab including all the files mentioned in the handouts). You only need to run the above command once ever -- when you subsequently log in on any lab laptop, the 6.01 directory will already exist on the Desktop.

Once you've done the setup, you can pull the latest files from the course staff into your Desktop/6.01 directory by running the following command on any Athena machine or on the course laptops:

athrun 6.01 update
This command will perform an svn up (but not an svn revert) on your Desktop/6.01 directory, so you will get an any newly released software but you will not lose any changes that you have made to already released files. It will mostly be useful for pulling in entirely new lab code distributed by the staff.

Using the 6.01 software on Athena

You can run SoaR and Python on Athena, you first need to run the command
add -f 6.01
to add the 6.01 locker to the front of your PATH before you can run python 2.5 or SoaR. You can then run "python" or "soar" normally (or "SoaR" or "Soar").