Quick links

Independent Work Seminar Offerings - Fall 2022

COS IW 01: Extreme Neural Rendering

Instructor: Felix Heide

Meeting Time: Tuesdays, 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


Recent advances in neural rendering have made it possible to synthesize novel photo-realistic views of real-world scenes. The most successful approaches combine ideas from Computer Graphics, Machine Learning and Optimization. Specifically, neural rendering methods combine conventional volumetric rendering with a coordinate-based neural network that predicts density and radiance. These learned scene representations make it possible to generate images for with broad applications across domains, including virtual reality, robotics, health, and computer vision.

This seminar will explore these models and their applications in extreme conditions, including illumination, size of the scene, training samples, and model size. Example projects include: generation of novel views from ultra-sparse views indoors, view synthesis in ultra-low light (, e.g., at night, view generation in very large outdoor environments, 3D scene reconstruction from a few views, models with ultra-small memory footprint, and single-shot capabilities. Students may work as individuals but are encouraged to work in pairs formed during the seminar around common topics of interest. There are no prerequisites: a solid background in machine learning, deep learning, graphics, and computer vision are welcome (even preferred) but not required.


COS IW 02: Natural Language Processing

Instructor: Christiane Fellbaum

Meeting Time: Fridays, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


Natural Language Processing aims to understand and model properties of human language and the ways it is learned, produced and interpreted. Participants in the seminar will choose from a wide range of topics including but not limited to sentiment and opinion analysis, argument and bias detection, identification of fake news, computational humor, question answering and automated reasoning, in English or another natural language. Each student will identify, scrape, clean and pre-process a dataset, using standard available resources. Data may come from available text corpora, news outlets, blogs, tweets, etc. Students will apply (and possibly improve on) existing pre-processing tools for word segmentation, part-of-speech tagging, morphological analysis and syntactic parsing. The focus will be on the analysis of explicit or implicit meaning in texts, on the word, sentence or document level. Students may wish to analyze linguistic data dealing with current issues such as the Black Lives Matter movement, the pandemic and public health, and gender/racial/nationality/religious bias. Different approaches to semantic analysis, using lexical resources and/or embeddings, will be considered and applied. Projects may include a machine learning component for students who have taken COS324.

We will meet weekly as a group and discuss everyone's project, progress, challenges and findings. Students may work in pairs so long as each student covers a separate aspect of the project.


COS IW 03: Build and Evaluate Augmented Reality Applications for In-Person Social Interactions

Instructor: Andrés Monroy-Hernández

Meeting Time: Thursdays, 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


There has been a recent backlash against digital technology for its effect on how people relate to each other. One common concern is that technology diverts people’s attention from genuinely  engaging with one another when they interact in person, i.e., feeling “alone together.” Some have argued that human contact is now a “luxury good,” which of course was exacerbated by the pandemic.

Motivated by this challenge, this seminar focuses on an under-explored design space for technology: co-located interactions. We will build co-located, social augmented reality (AR) applications. We chose AR because, unlike other technologies, it relies heavily on the physical world, i.e., the reality shared by people who inhabit the same place simultaneously.

Students will work on the product design and development cycle through a human-centered approach. Starting with identifying a problem or need that people have in a particular domain (e.g., education, fitness, play, and utility), designing low-fidelity prototypes, building an AR mobile application, evaluating it through an IRB-approved user study, and preparing a final demo and a report. Students will engage and reflect on the ethical implications of their designs throughout the process and articulate the value of AR for the specific scenario.

We are partnering with Snap and will use Snap’s AR technology, which runs on top of Snapchat.  This technology comes with the ability to connect users synchronously, hand tracking (1 or 2-hand), voice ML, and location triggers. Snap will also provide some advice and lend a few Spectacles AR glasses for a subset of projects that benefit from the glasses form factor.

●    Project IRL: Playful Co-Located Interactions with Mobile Augmented Reality (CSCW 2022) https://arxiv.org/abs/2201.02558
●    Blocks: Collaborative and Persistent Augmented Reality Experiences (UbiComp 2019) https://arxiv.org/abs/1908.02409
●    Understanding the Role of Context in Creating Enjoyable Co-Located Interactions (CSCW 2022) https://arxiv.org/abs/2202.01698

Prerequisites: programming (JavaScript ideally, but other languages are fine too).

Not required but useful: 3D modeling, experience using AR applications


COS IW 04: Help Future Computer Science Students Learn Computer Science

Instructor: Robert Fish

Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 3:00 - 4:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


We live in interesting times, with virtual classrooms (sometimes) replacing or supplementing physical ones. This new paradigm presents interesting new challenges but also opportunities to students and instructors. This seminar focuses on projects that try to enhance the computer science learning environment at Princeton (or perhaps anywhere else!) with an option to focus on remote, virtual, and online learning environments. People need learning environments, especially in remote learning, that enhance group dynamics, maintain motivation, include a degree of self-pacing, as well as engage with individual learning styles.

In this seminar, students will choose some computer science concept from COS 126, 217, 226 or other Princeton Computer Science courses or choose some other aspect of the learning environment that contributes to computer science pedagogy. You might pick some interesting concept that you think you can explain well to other students or some concept with which you struggled and want to help others understand.   Some examples might be 1) the dynamic operation of various gates and circuits in the TOY architecture or 2) understanding the mathematical notation for Finite State Machines.
For their projects, students will design and build an online learning experience that is targeted at whatever concept they choose. It can include videos, graphic visualizations, quizzing mechanisms, games, 3D imagery, or anything else that you can think of that might help students understand a concept. The project should also include an evaluation component by which mastery of the ideas exposed to students may be assessed. A bonus would be utilizing the system to compare learning with it to other, perhaps more conventional approaches, using either qualitative or quantitative methods.

Some possible projects will be suggested early in the seminar, but students are also free to use their imagination and pick their own topic. Weekly meetings will include some initial brainstorming exercises, then we will concentrate on putting together project proposals, doing a review of relevant past work, and then finally, weekly project management presentations that will help students keep their projects on track.

Students may pair up on these projects, creating a joint idea for a learning environment, with each student concentrating on some aspect of the software with a division of labor of frontend, backend, literature review, assessment, data analysis, etc. The learning and use of open source tools, including tools such as Open edX, Django, the D3 visualization library, and the Unity game engine etc. are encouraged in order that students may create the most effective online learning environments.
Some examples of past projects include an automated COS 226 quizzing system, visualizations of stack and heap data structures, user interfaces to improve student progress tracking, automating lab TA assignments, a curriculum picking tool, a simplified source code control tutorial, introducing elementary machine learning algorithms, and gamification of COS 126 assignments.


COS IW 05: Programming and Architecting the Next Generation of Computers – Parallel Applications, Compilers, and Hardware

Instructor: Margaret Martonosi

Meeting Time: Fridays, 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


From cellphones, to laptops, to data centers, modern computer systems use techniques dramatically different from 10-20 years ago, in order to continue to scale performance on important applications, while maintaining power- and cost-efficiency.  Increasingly, these systems rely on parallelism, and in particular on what is called heterogeneous and accelerator-oriented parallelism.  This IW seminar will engage students in software and hardware projects related to accelerator-oriented parallelism.  We will make use of publicly available resources like TensorFlow, PyTorch, and CUDA, as well as open-source compilers and simulators developed by my research group and our collaborators.  The goal will be to develop machine learning and graph analytics applications accelerated by our approaches, and to assess the ability for automated tools to make that performance acceleration easier to achieve. The seminar will not require prerequisites beyond COS 217 and COS 226, but students should be ready to read challenging technical papers and learn the intricacies of this exciting and fast-changing area.


COS IW 06: Computation and Machine Learning in Life Sciences and Biomedicine

Instructor: Yuri Pritykin

Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room TBD


In this seminar, students could work on a wide range of projects centered on the themes of preprocessing, analysis, integration, interpretation, visualization, manipulation and design of multi-dimensional data and experiments in life sciences and biomedicine. Examples of technologies and sources of data will include single-cell and spatial genomics, epigenomics, genome editing, imaging, biomedical literature, patient records. Ideas for potential projects will be suggested, and students are also free to choose their own topics.

The seminar will meet once a week. Class time will be used to introduce necessary concepts from biology and biotechnologies, interesting datasets and studies, computational methodology and software frameworks, and discuss students' progress in their projects. There are no prerequisites beyond COS217 and COS226. For most projects, knowing R or Python will be necessary, and students should be ready to pick it up in the first few weeks of the seminar. No prior knowledge of biology is required, but students should be ready to learn concepts from molecular biology and biotechnologies (necessary background and references will be provided, prior molecular biology or related background is a plus). Students may pair to work on more ambitious projects, or on complementary aspects of a project.


COS IW 07: Mobile and Wearable Design for Sports and Assistive Technology

Instructor: Kyle Jamieson

Meeting Time: Wednesdays, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

Location: Computer Science Building, Room 302


Wearable/augmented-reality platforms, sports and medical sensors, and other technologies are creating new opportunities to help athletes excel in their sports, and help persons with disabilities perform the activities of daily living.  At the same time, these exciting technologies also create new opportunities to help doctors, coaches, and therapists in the clinic and the home.  Participants in this seminar will choose an assistive, sport, or medical application and develop a solution that will have real impact on peoples’ lives.
Possible assistive applications include hearing impairment, cognitive impairment (aphasia, autism spectrum, Parkinson's disease, prosopagnosia), and vision impairment.  Other in-scope applications targeted on medical, sports, and psychological contexts include dermatology (melanoma detection and diagnosis, jaundice), pulmonary spirometry, physical/occupational therapy (stroke rehabilitation), sports medicine and performance analysis, and health monitoring (blood glucose, EKG, blood oxygenation).  Possible hardware platforms include mobile devices, wearable health monitors, augmented reality devices (Microsoft HoloLens, Fove VR), 360-degree cameras (Google), wearable body-cams, and an array of new-to-market medical and sports performance sensor technology (Garmin, Apple, Polar, and others).


COS IW 08: Technology Policy

Instructor: Mihir Kshirsagar

Meeting Time: Fridays, 11:00 am - 12:20 pm

Location: TBD


Abstract: In this IW seminar students get to work on crafting concrete policy responses to challenges posed by emerging computer and network technologies. There is a renewed sense of urgency to understand the implications of how these technologies are transforming public life and to craft practical solutions that address the difficult tradeoffs we need to make. Students in past seminars have worked on a variety of different projects, including  those related to machine learning, social media, video game design, communication policy, competition, privacy, and cryptocurrencies, among other issues.

The first half of the seminar will focus on introducing students to policy challenges in different domains to help them explore potential topics for their final project. The second half of the seminar is devoted to workshopping the final projects and helping students develop workable proposals.

The final project will be student-driven, with the opportunity to create a real-world policy work product. Policymakers need thoughtful, technically sophisticated voices to help them develop evidence-based policies. This seminar helps students prepare to play that vital role. All students are expected to attend all weekly meetings and work collaboratively on shared projects. There are no prerequisites for taking this seminar.


COS IW 09: Product Manager Bootcamp

Instructor: Mike Freedman

Meeting Time: Thursdays 3:00 pm - 4:20 pm

Location: TBD


One professional pathway for computer science graduates is into product management, where you can combine many strengths and interests (technical, analytical, business, user centrism, design) to build great product experiences. Product managers need to excel in communication and leadership, but do so while balancing many needs and stakeholders.

This Independent Work seminar will serve as a "bootcamp" for students interested in product management, especially from the perspective of a startup and having full product ownership.  Our focus with be on b2b SaaS products, not consumer or social media.  We'll cover concepts such as product theory frameworks, developing good strategy, market and user research, north-star metrics, product-market fit, product positioning, pricing, growth techniques, user stories, establishing feature priorities and using PM tools, design cycles (wireframing, prototyping), and more.

We'll read articles and blog posts, listen to podcasts and interviews.  We'll focus heavily on recent startup case studies and examples from industry. Guests from industry might make an appearance.  The class is meant to be highly engaged and discussion oriented.  In addition to being a professor at Princeton, Freedman is the CTO and leads product at Timescale, a newly-minted unicorn building databases and cloud data infrastructure for time-series data.

There are no prerequisites other than a passion for technology, but students are expected to work in a team of two on a b2b product/venture idea through the semester.  Students are expected to have a partner by the first week of the seminar, so please register with a teammate in mind!

Follow us: Facebook Twitter Linkedin