Grading Policy

I reserve the right to make minor modifications in the grading breakups. Any such changes will be announced in the class and posted on this web page.

Grades will be determined as follows:

  • Paper summaries: 30% (group effort)

An important research skill is the ability for critical reading of research papers. To ensure interactive class sessions and to test your understanding of the material, students are required to read and evaluate papers in the reading list in advance of each class session. The specific paper to summarize will be available on the course web page.

The summaries are a group effort. Each project group will produce (at most) one page summary of the research paper and email it (in ASCII text format) by 8 pm of the previous night (e.g., for the tuesday lecture, the summaries are due by Monday at 8:00 pm). For each paper, the summary should describe:

  • the most important thing the paper says,
  • the most glaring problem with the paper, and
  • what conclusion you draw from the paper.

Clearly, you may have changed your mind by the end of the class discussion; that's OK (and even expected). The evaluations will be graded as follows: You will be graded on the depth of your understanding of the corresponding paper; each evaluation will receive a score on a 0-3 scale (3 being excellent). The default grade will be a 2. Superficial reviews (e.g., that quote the paper verbatim) will not receive any grades. Grading will start off relatively easy but will become progressively harder as the semester progresses. Late summaries will not receive credit for any reason. The summaries should reflect your understanding of the paper. It is not acceptable to turn in a summary if you have not made an honest effort to read the paper. It is not acceptable to quote verbatim from the paper itself. One summary with 0 or 1 grade should be considered as a warning; a second failure would require a face-to-face meeting of the team with the instructor.

  • Class participation: 10%

A primary goal of this course is to encourage discussion among the class members. Most ideas in systems are developed through such healthy discussions. Students are encouraged to ask questions, suggest new ideas, point out weaknesses and make general observations. Even though the questions are expected to be related to the topic, students will not be judged by the quality of questions that they ask. Active participation is expected.

  • Course project: 60% (Includes technical merit, project report and presentation)

The course project carries significant weight in the course; the expectation is that (with some additional work) these course projects will turn into good conference publications. For example, one such venue is the USENIX Annual Technical conference (deadline Jan 17, 2006). The course projects will be graded as follows:

    • Project goals and objectives presentation: 5%

    This 5 minute presentation should outline what challenges you hope to investigate for your course project. You will also turn in your one-paragraph objectives. You will be graded on the thoroughness of your project objectives.

    • Midsemsester project report: 15%

    The midsemester project report should model your final report: it should have typical paper sections such as Abstract, Motivation and Introduction, statement of System Objectives and how you plan to achieve them, your experimental methodology, experimental results with concluding remarks. For now, you will fill the uncompleted section (for example, experimental results) with filler graphs depicting how you envision the final graph would look like. The project report will be 12-15 pages long (single spaced, 11 pt font)

    • Final project presentation: 10%

    Your project presentation will be about 25 minutes each (20 minutes of presentation with 5 minutes of questions).

    • Final project report: 30%
    The final project report is expected to be 12-15 pages long (single space, 10-11pt font. You may use IEEE, ACM or USENIX formats).

Other Rules:

  • The No-Sponge Rule: In intra-team collaboration where the group, as a whole, produces a single "product", each member of the team must actively contribute. Members of the group have the responsibility (1) to not tolerate anyone who is putting forth no effort (being a sponge) and (2) to not let anyone who is making a good faith effort "fall through a crack" (to help weaker team members come up to speed so they can contribute). We want to know about dysfunctional group situations as early as possible. To encourage everyone to participate fully, we make sure that every student is given an opportunity to explain and justify their group's approach.
    Last modified: 08/22/2005 21:59