I am an undergraduate student studying computer science. A student that I know told me tonight that in a class she is taking this semester, she was reported by the autograder that code she and her partner submitted was very similar to the code our group submitted when we took the course last semester. The professor has forwarded her case to the organization in the school for investigation, and he also passed the information to our professor who taught the course when we took it. So my teammates and I are expecting to hear from our professor, and I suspect we will also be reported for investigation into the case.
I am in total shock right now because I never gave our code to her and I never posted the code online, neither did my teammates (we talked after learning about this). So it is very confusing to me why our code would be so similar that would be flagged by the autograder. Even though I know we are innocent, I think it would be a very difficult situation for my teammates and I because: 1) it is already hard to believe the similarity is pure coincidence; 2) what is worse, all of us knows this person who is accused of copying our code, which makes it look even more suspicious; 3) if we are indeed reported and under investigation, apart from saying that we did not provide the code, we do not have any ways to show that we are innocent (in fact now I think the procedure is very unfair to people like us).
The student accused of copying our code told us that she was provided with both our codes for comparison, and she think they look similar in logic, and some shorter functions are almost the same. I do not want to think that she somehow managed to "steal" our code. I do feel that a possible reason could be that the course is quite difficult and every group would seek help from TA so in the end most groups have similar approach to the design of the code.
I still find the whole thing very bizarre. I am very aware of the college policy on academic integrity, and I have been always very careful not to let anyone see my code in a course (I have been asked by classmates to show my code before, but I never did that). I cannot understand why this could happen to me. This would the first time I have been falsely accused of anything. I imagine it would be very hard to believe for anyone else too. Could you help by offering some advice on how to deal with the situation? Thank you very much!