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Chapter presentations

In groups of one or two, you will sign up for one chapter and give two presentations: a shorter, 15-minute preview, and a longer, 60-minute technical lecture. You will work with us in order to develop the material for your presentations. Please sign up for a chapter by Monday, August 31; see the calendar for the schedule.

Lecture schedule

We will plan to spend about two lectures on each chapter, and we are experimenting with a "TV-episode" schedule. The first lecture (typically Tuesday) will be led by a student group, while the second lecture (typically Thursday) will be led by the instructor. The last 15 minutes of the second lecture will be devoted to previewing the next lecture. In a bit more detail, the lecture schedule will look something like this:

  • Tuesday: Chapter N
    • Lecture and discussion on Chapter N (student)
  • Thursday: Chapter N
    • Lecture and discussion on Chapter N (instructor)
    • 15-minute preview of Chapter N+1 (student)

Preparation schedule

You will work closely with us in order to develop a high-quality presentation.

  • Two weeks before your chapter:
    • Read the chapter, and prepare a rough outline for what you will present
    • Meet with us for about 30 minutes to discuss your plan
  • One week before your chapter:
    • Prepare a detailed outline, plus slides (if you are using slides)
    • Meet with us for about 30 minutes to discuss the details

Presentation tips

The chapters in the book are drawn from research papers, which are written for a very specific audience, different from (and much narrower than) our class. Papers published in conferences---most papers in computer science---are also subject to tight page limits and are typically extremely condensed; many key things are left unsaid. (Here is a useful guide to reading papers.) When presenting a chapter in class, you should not try to cover every last detail in the chapter. Instead, you should try to unpack the material so that it is easier to understand, expanding on the motivation, working through examples, etc.

Here are a few specific things to keep in mind when presenting a chapter.

  • Make sure the high-level picture is clear. Make sure to explain the problem the chapter is trying to solve, the setting, and as much of the motivation behind the chapter as possible.
  • Don't spend the whole time presenting technical details. For instance, it is probably not interesting for the class to spend the whole presentation talking about the technical details in a single proof.
  • You don't have to present the whole chapter. It is simply not possible to present every detail in the span of one lecture. For some chapters, it may not even be possible to present each main contribution. Focus on the one or two most important contributions (as decided by yourself). If the chapter first discusses a "core" or "basic" version, and then later adds on a bunch of advanced extensions, focus on the core version.
  • Give as many examples as you can. Most research papers are extremely condensed, and do not have nearly enough examples. Present as many examples as you can. Your examples don't need to be drawn from the chapter---small examples are the most useful, as simple as possible.
  • Keep the class background in mind. Our class has students from a variety of backgrounds; try to keep this in mind. It's better to briefly explain a technical term if you are not sure everyone knows what it means. You should assume that everyone in the class has basic familiarity with the chapter, and has completed the checkup questions.