Course Project

The goal of the project is to produce a conference-quality paper. I expect that with further polish and additional effort, a number of the projects will lead to publications/theses. Since time is limited, however, I will reward those that aim high even if they do not completely succeed. The key to a successful class project is ensuring that some aspects of your work are completely done; it is hard to grade a project where nothing quite works. The projects will be graded as follows -- by what you discover in doing the project, how coherently you present your results, and how well you put your work in perspective with other research. This will be a good opportunity for you to learn about conducting research in the area of computer networks/distributed systems or to explore in detail a topic/issue that interests you.

The research should be carried out in teams of two. Talk to me if you would like to work in a different sized group. I will provide a number of ideas that can serve as a starting point for many projects. Students can also work with me to define a separate project in an area related to the course. The project will make up the bulk of the course. Students will spend the first part of the course defining the project and researching related work. The actual work on the project will be completed in the last half of the course. The most important thing about choosing a project is ensuring that you are excited by the topic.

At the end of the semester, we will hold a mini-conference open to the public. Each group will give a 20-25 minute talk (followed by 5 minutes of questions from the audience) and submit an 8-12 page research report describing their project. All students are expected to attend the conference and to submit evaluations for half of the talks/papers, including a nominee for "best paper". The conference is expected to take 6 hours (depending on the number of groups). These sessions will be held in lieu of a final exam. The schedule for the conference will be determined later in the semester.

The following milestones will drive the selection and specification of the course project:

  • 09/5/2002: Group Introduction

    Each student will submit their name, email address, and two or three areas of interest for a term project by email. This list will be distributed to the entire class. The goal is to match students with similar interests and form project teams. Students who have already formed teams make a single submission with all names and their area(s) of interest.

    Project Groups

  • 09/17/2002: Group formation

    All groups should be formed. Each group submits the names of their group members along with a narrowed area of interest. Groups begin thinking about their projects. I will provide a list of suggestions that can be used as a starting point. All groups are encouraged to consult with me, ask questions, etc. in preparing their project topic for the next milestone.

    Potential groups
  • 10/31/2002: Project proposal presentation

    Written proposals should include:

    • a description of your topic,
    • a crisp statement of the hypothesis that you will test,
    • a statement of why you think the topic is important,
    • a description of the methods you will use to evaluate your ideas, and
    • references to at least three papers you have obtained with a summary of how they relate to your work. Proposals should not exceed 2 pages in length.

    Each group will present their ideas in 5 minutes to the entire class. Shortly after submission of the proposal, each group will meet with me to refine the project topic.

  • 10/12/2002]: Project checkpoint

    In two pages or less, summarize your progress. Describe any initial results. Describe any changes in your project's scope or direction now that you know more about the topic. List the major milestones you have completed and the milestones that you must complete to successfully finish your study.

    Each group will again meet with me to discuss their progress and goals.

  • 12/3/2002: Public mini-conference
  • 12/5/2002: Written reports are due
  • 12/5/2002: Individual Oral Exams

Course Project Suggestions

  • Winning entries from Linux Challenge 2001
  • Performance studies: An excellent project would be to analyze the performance of various system components (such a the file system, network system) under various synthetic load conditions. For example, you can compare the performance of various file systems (Linux, FreeBSD, NT, XP) for a web proxy/server workload.
  • Energy quantification of system operations You can measure the energy consumption of various system/network operations for typical workloads. You will have access to measurement tools and servers in the systems lab.
  • Operating systems for small devices Linux has been ported to devices such as the Compaq iPAQ (, wireless access point ( etc. An excellent project would be to install Linux on one of these devices and configure this kernel to perform certain tasks of your choosing. For example, you can explore placing a web proxy on the software access point and see if you can do some interesting traffic shaping.
  • OSDI technical session papers Look at this conference technical program (here) for interesting ideas. For example, the paper on Ivy, sounds interesting.

Surendar Chandra
Last modified: Mon Dec 26 23:24:30 PST 2011