Coursework for Computer Science 685: The Structure of Information Networks
The course is primarily based on material from the past 3-5 years;
this means that most of it exists in the form of papers on the Web,
and the existing literature raises a lot of interesting issues
that have yet to be explored.
As a way to get everyone thinking about what's out there,
there will be assigned reaction papers roughly every 1-2 weeks.
The reaction paper assignments will be structured as follows:
you should read at least two closely related papers relevant
to the current section of the course, at least one of which
is not linked from the course home page.
You should then write approximately 3 pages in which you address
the following points:
Reaction papers should not just be summaries of the papers you read;
most of your text should be focused on synthesis of the underlying
ideas, and your own perspective on the papers.
Reaction papers should be done individually (i.e. not in groups).
- What is main technical content of the papers?
- Why is it interesting in relation to the current section of the course?
- What are the weakness of the papers, and how could they be improved?
- What are some promising further research questions in
the direction of the papers, and how could they be pursued?
A few of the reaction paper assignments may be replaced with
more traditional problem sets, depending on the nature of
the material we're covering.
The final piece of the work for the course will be a project.
You can work on this in groups of up to three people,
and it is largely up to you to define the topic and scope of the project.
The reaction papers are one of the best ways to start thinking about
possible project topics; and the first step in the project will
be a short `proposal,' which gives me a chance to offer early feedback.
The basic genres of project are the following:
The result of the project will typically be a 10-15 page paper,
describing the approach, the results, and the related work.
The references on the course home page serve as examples of
what such papers tend to look like;
of course, the overall form of the paper will depend on the nature of
- An experimental evaluation of an algorithm, model, or
measure on an interesting dataset. The datasets on the course
home page suggest some possible domains in which to think about
such experiments; but you can also assemble your own data.
- A theoretical project that considers an algorithm, model, or
measure in the area of some course topic, and tries to derive rigorous
results about it.
- An extended, critical survey of one the course topics,
going into significant depth and offering a novel perspective on the area.
The course grade will be based 50% on reaction papers and problem sets,
and 50% on the project.
Academic Integrity and Plagiarism
You are expected to maintain the utmost level of
academic integrity in the course.
Any violation of the code of academic integrity
will be penalized severely, and can lead to failing the course.
Plagiarism deserves special mention here.
Including text from other sources in a reaction paper or project write-up
without quoting it and providing a proper citation constitutes plagiarism,
and it is a serious form of academic misconduct.
This includes cases in which no full sentence has been
copied from the original source, but large amounts of
text have been closely paraphrased without proper attribution.
To get a better sense for what is allowed, it is highly
recommended that you consult pages 16-22 of
the Academic Integrity document at
This is a very serious issue; instances of plagiarism will
very likely result in failing the course.