This course will be run as a graduate reading seminar. The goal of
the course is for you to be able to learn and synthesize as many of
the readings as possible and apply them to what you are interested in.
Hence your grade will be based on:
I reserve the right to change this scheme at any time.
This course will be run with a fair but flexible grading system; I
will scale the class grades up if I deem them to be too low, but I
will not scale them to make grades lower.
You are expected to read all of the papers that will be read
for class. Reading and thinking about the papers before class will
enable us to have fruitful discussion. Hence beforehand you are
required to read the paper
and comment on it using the Connect discussion list for the paper. In order to allow the presenter to have
enough time to look over what everyone has said, you must post your
comments on a paper by 8pm the day before the paper is to be
A good paper reflection will cover the following points:
- The motivations for the work
- The paper's strengths and weaknesses
- Questions about the paper — in particular, questions that you
would like to see discussed.
- A summary of the paper. Note that this summary should not
be the only focus of the review. In particular, if the summary part
of your response is more than about 500 words long, it's probably too long.
Your goal in the summary is two parts: (1) show me that you have a
good grasp of the paper and (2) make sure that 6 months from now you
were to come back to the paper and wonder if the paper was going to
help you in your current endeavor, you'd be able to figure it out from
your review. You would, however, expect that you may still have to
re-read the paper to get all the details ironed out.
The postings will be graded on a 0, 1, 2, 3 grading scale:
To ensure that we all agree about what consists of a 0, 1, 2, or 3
review, I've provided a set of sample
reviews for a
paper that we won't be covering. I also will grade the first
reading assignment so that you can have an idea of what to expect, but
I will not count that grade.
- A 3 is given if you post something that shows that you have a very
good grasp of the paper and if you are asking some really good
questions that show that you're coming to grips with the meaning of
the paper. Answering the above questions is not sufficient for
showing this, but you must have discussion questions to get a 3
A 2 is given if you post something that shows that you have a basic
understanding of most of the paper (not understanding all of the
details is okay, as long as you demonstrate that you've tried) and
have made a good attempt to analyze the paper (note: good answers to
the above questions is a sufficient but not necessary condition for
receiving a 2).
A 1 is given if you post something that shows that you have made an
honest effort but fail to either provide any analysis or fail to show
that you understand the basic concepts in the paper.
A 0 is given if you post nothing or clearly have spent very little
time on it.
A 3 is worth 100%. A 2 is worth 80%. A 1 is worth 60%. Everyone gets four
free zeros on papers,
plus you do not have to post for the paper(s) you present or lead discussion for. Beyond the
four free zeros, I may consider allowing you to turn in some
reviews late under extenuating circumstances, but you
must contact me ahead of time, and I reserve the right to
refuse your request. Note that I will grade this as dropping your
lowest four grades, regardless of if they are zeros or not.
Presentations & Discussions
While I will run some classes (particularly at the beginning of the
term), for the most part class time will be spent on student
presentations and discussions. Presentations will be paired, so that
each paper is being led by two people.
Both people are responsible for seeing me at least two days
in advance of the presentation to ensure that they understand the
material for the paper that they are presenting. Note that I am
generally not in the office on Fridays.
Details for the presenter:
- The presenter is
responsible for discussing the technical points of the paper.
Remember that everyone has read the paper, so it is not necessary to
go into gory details. Your job is to ensure that everyone is up to
speed and to bring out the key points to help us be able to have a
fruitful discussion. Note that I
well tell you which key topics you should not miss.
The discussion leader:
- The discussion leader is responsible for leading a discussion of
the paper with respect to the related work (either that read during
the class or other papers) or in the context of the class - how does
this relate to your data, and the points that people have raised in
their class postings? Note that the discussion leader is responsible
for posting at least one question that they will lead discussion on to
WebCT Vista by noon on the day of class.
Each person is responsible for two papers; one as the
presenter and one as the discussion leader. Like the
postings, they will be graded on a 0, 1, 2, 3 scale. Different grades
can be given for two people on the same paper. You will
not be graded on your public speaking skills. (A word on improving your public speaking for those
who are particularly anxious).
A 3 is worth 100%. A 2 is worth 85%. A 1 is worth 70%. A 0 will
result in a drop of your final grade by 25%. If you know ahead of
time that you will miss your appointed time, if you can arrange a swap
with someone, there is no penalty as long as you inform me ahead of
time. If an emergency comes up you must contact me as soon as
possible to let me know that you will not be able to make it, and
I may allow you to make the grade up in some other fashion.
Hint: a paper deadline that you've known about for months is
not an emergency.
- A 3 is given if you have done a great job.
For the person doing technical content, this involves catching the key
highlights of the paper, and telling us enough details about the work
to get us excited about it without dragging us through all the gory
details. For the person in charge of context, this involves
either thoroughly exploring the discussion points that have
been posted about the paper, or relating the work to the broader
context of the course, whether that's through discussing your own
data, previous readings through the class, or talking about other
related work that I provide.
- A 2 is given if you have done a good, but not great, job of your
presentation. For the person doing technical content, this involves
catching most of the key highlights of the paper, but perhaps missing
a few. It could also mean that you've mis-judged the presentation and
spent too much time on the gory details. For the persion in charge of
context, this may mean that you've collected some questions, but have
selected questions which cannot prompt discussion (e.g.,
questions for which only I can possibly know the answer, or to which
the answer is a simple "yes" or "no").
- A 1 is given if you make a presentation that is only moderately
prepared. If I make suggestions to you, and you do not follow them,
you are in danger of receiving a 1.
- A 0 is given if you do not show up or if you are very unprepared.
This class is a project class, and one of the major components will be
the project. You can find more information about the project here.
I will give at least one
small assignment to make sure that you understand some concepts that
will be fundamental to the class.
This class will be much more exciting for all involved if you share
your perspective on the materials discussed. I will not be issuing
grades for participation on a daily basis; I will base this part of
your grade on your participation across the entire course. If you are
concerned about your participation levels, please come talk to me.
If you are sick
If you are sick, please let me know. Please do not come to
class while very sick --- it's not good for you, it's not good for the
rest of us. If you have the flu, please fill out
this form. I will not count your illness against class
participation. I will also arrange for you to turn in your paper
responses late (or you can use some of your free zeros for the papers
- your choice). If you are ill for your presentation or discussion,
please, please let me know ASAP, and we'll figure something out.
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Office Location: ICCS 345
The Department of Computer Science
University of British Columbia
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