Great Papers in Computer Science & Software Engineering Syllabus - Fall 2014
Prof. Lisa Kaczmarczyk

Office: B160 Olin
Email: lkaczmarczyk@hmc.edu
or lisa@cs.hmc.edu

Office Hours: Monday 5:30 – 6:30 pm

Course Website: sites.google.com/a/g.hmc.edu/great-papers-in-cs-cs181

Course Description

This seminar course examines “classic writings” across the fields of computer science and software engineering. Although students must appreciate the fundamental premise of each work, the focus of the course is on what factors caused it to become “classic”. This focus includes a discussion of the social, historical, economic and technological context in which the work appeared, and an analysis of preceding work and subsequent impact on the field.

Course Goals; Learning Outcomes

  • Learn about many of the seminal writings in computer science / software engineering and what their impact was on the field

  • Appreciate the wide range of factors that caused these papers to have significant impact in computer science / software engineering

  • Develop an in-depth, well-rounded analysis of the context and impact of a seminal computer science or software engineering paper

  • Present your analysis to your peers, and perhaps beyond, in both written and oral form


Class Participation: 48 points (4 points per class; 12 total meetings)

Your informed ideas and opinions will make this class both engaging and a great learning experience for everyone. Therefore, Active Class Participation is Required.

4 points will be awarded for each class that meets expectations. Meeting expectations includes the following: arriving at class on time, having completed assigned preparation, actively participating in class discussion, being respectful of another person's opinion even when you disagree. Please contact me in advance if you know you will need to miss class for any reason.

Weekly Homework Assignments: 72 points (6 points each; 12 assignments)

There will be a homework assignment due every week unless otherwise noted. With the exception of the first assignment (HW0) assignments will be due Sunday at 12:00 noon.

The weekly assignments support your term project. In many cases these assignments are actual sections of your project paper or presentation.

Each weekly assignment will be awarded 6 points. Assignment points will be awarded based upon the following scale:

6 points: Turned in by the deadline, complete, nails the intent of the assignment
3 - 4 points: Turned in past the deadline but before the start of the class, or incomplete or sloppy or some combination of these
1 - 2 points: Turned in after the start of class
0 points: Not turned in, or completely missing the boat in some major way

There is no 5 point option.

In addition to meeting the basic requirements listed above, I encourage “thinking outside the box”; we will talk in class more about what this means.

Technical Presentation: 15 points

As part of your term project you will be expected to make a presentation to your peers about the technical content of the paper you are analyzing. This presentation will take place early in the semester because its primary purpose is to ensure you understand the overarching technical contribution of the paper you have selected. In addition, this presentation will provide you practice making a formal technical presentation and practice communicating technical information to an interested audience who lacks exposure to your subject.

Contextual Presentation: 40 points

As part of your term project you will be expected to make a presentation to your peers about the numerous non-technical factors that led to your paper having a significant impact and becoming widely accepted as “seminal” within computer science or software engineering.

These non-technical factors are the heart of what this class is all about and thus you have the opportunity in this presentation to fully demonstrate your greater understanding of how your paper fits into the greater context of computer science / software engineering. In addition, this presentation will provide the opportunity to obtain feedback and to field questions from your peers that you can use to refine your final paper.

Final Paper: 100 points

The weekly assignments and presentations will build towards your Final Paper. The Final Paper will be a synthesis and refinement of your technical and contextual understanding, with strong emphasis upon the latter. You will be expected to demonstrate, though your own example, an understanding how writing can contribute to effective communication of computer science. You are not expected to have significant experience writing term papers prior to this class. One of the reasons you will develop your paper incrementally over the course of the semester through the assignments is so you can learn by doing and receive constructive feedback. The paper will be constructed in a formal style which we will discuss in class.

Total Points: 275

Grading Scale: Fixed.

    A   :  95%
    A-  :  90%
    B+ :  87%
    B   :  84%
    B-  :  80%
    C+ :  77%
    C   :  74%
    C-  :  70%
    D   :  60% - 69%
    F    :  Below 60%

Submission Guidelines

Weekly assignments will be turned in on Sakai unless otherwise noted. Please submit a single attachment, preferably .doc/.docx . Include your name and the assignment name and assignment number at the top of the document. In some cases you may be asked to submit another form of document (.ppt for example). When this happens, that information will be included on the assignment description and we will talk about it in class.

Obtaining the Readings

The seminal papers for this class will be available for download in Sakai. Additional readings and resources for the class may also be included in Sakai.

Communication & Email

It is important to read your email daily as I will rely on it to send announcements to the class about a variety of topics. I read my email frequently and it is an excellent way to get hold of me. Both versions of my Mudd email work equally well (the long one and the short one).

If you want to talk with me in person when I am off campus, send me an email and we can schedule a Skype call.

You may at some point figure out that I have other, non Mudd email addresses. Please don’t send email to one of those because I receive dozens of messages every day and I might not see yours right away.

Have questions? Concerns? Ask me.