COS-561 Information



Your final grade for the course will be based on the following weights:

Class participation

Papers will be discussed in a very involved manner. All students are expected to have thoroughly read and considered each assigned paper, prepared to answer and pose questions about each reading.


The project in COS-561 is an open-ended research and/or development project, done in groups of two or three. This year, as a replacement for specific programming assignment, the project requires significant coding. You must show a preliminary version of a working prototype by checkpoint 2 (early December) and a more complete working version by the due date (January). More information can be found on the Project page.

Reading responses: How to review

When reviewing papers, you will see a section for describing a paper summary, its strengths, its weaknesses, and detailed comments. In the summary section, please directly address:

  1. What problem the paper is addressing (1-2 sentences or bullets).
  2. The core novel ideas or technical contributions of the work (1-2 sentences or bullets). Put another way, what's the 30 second elevator pitch, or, five years from now, what should one remember about this paper?
  3. A longer description (3-5 sentences) that summarizes the paper's approach, mechanisms, and findings.

For the other sections, please include 2-4 bulletted points for the strengths and weaknesses, while a much longer exposition in the detailed comments. Remember to be constructive: don't only focus on the paper's shortcomings, but also on what it could have done differently or as the next steps. Imagine that you are having a conversation with the authors: What would you tell them?

In class, one reviewer will be assigned to present the paper, prior to general discussion.


When presenting papers in class, you should prepare slides for a 10-12 minute presentation that includes: Depending on how long the above topics take you to cover (and you should practice your presentation prior to class), you might also include an optional "opinion" part of the presentation: Remember that many students in the class haven't read the paper, so the first descriptive presentation is necessary for their understanding. The second "opinion" discussion will be driven by other readers' comments, whether or not your formal presentation finds time to cover it.

Last updated: Tue Oct 23 14:58:22 -0400 2012