CSE 291 -- System Services for the World Wide Web

Course Overview

Course requirements consist of class participation, paper evaluations, paper presentations, and a final project (for those enrolled for four units). There are no written assignments, and no exams.

I will give an overview of the class during the first lecture, and also present the first set of papers in the second class meeting. In the meantime, you should review the papers and decide which ones you will want to present during the quarter. We will assign papers during the second class. The number of papers you will present will depend upon the number of students enrolled in the class. I will also sign up for papers during the quarter to fill in any gaps.

Class Participation

You are expected to participate in discussions during the presentations in class periods. Class discussion gives insight that just reading the papers cannot. You should use your paper evaluations as a basis for discussion. Do not hesitate to ask questions about the paper, or offer clarifications or your own opinions on the research being discussed.

Paper Evaluations

One goal of this course is to provide the background necessary for doing research in wide-area operating and distributed systems. Reading the research papers that comprise this background is fundamental to achieving this goal. And class discussions are always more interesting if people have read the papers.

To ensure that the papers get read, all students enrolled in the class will submit evaluations of the papers. Evaluations for papers presented in a given class are due by noon of the day of class. You do not have to submit evaluations for papers on the day that you present a paper.

The evaluations should be short (1/2 page), but try to include the following:

Evaluations do form part of your grade. I will provide feedback if it does not appear that you are making an effort in your evaluations.

Paper Presentations

All students enrolled in the class will give a presentation on at least one paper (more depending upon the number of students enrolled). The goal of the presentation is to generate an interesting discussion of the research in the paper. Organize your presentation as an oral version of a written evaluation: give a brief summary of the paper to the class (particularly for the benefit of those people sitting in), describe what you learned from the paper and/or what you liked about it, and then present a list of topics/questions for discussion.


Students enrolled for four units will work on a research project in groups of two. The goal of the project is to define and explore a research problem. I will supply a list of project ideas, but I also very much encourage you to work on an idea of your own. Do not hesitate to tackle a difficult problem; if you run out of time completing the project, I will certainly take the difficulty into account. And if there is sufficient interest on both sides, I look forward to developing the work beyond the class for publication.

During the first half of the course, you will develop a project idea and define a set of goals for the project. You will then work on the project for the second half of the course. At the end of the quarter, each group will submit an 8-10 page written report describing the work and give a 20-minute presentation to the class.

I will be grading the project primarily upon the report that you submit, and to a certain extent the presentation you give. Your report should be written like a research paper: give a clear introduction of the research topic you have chosen to work on, a discussion of how it relates to other work in the area, a description of the methodology used to investigate the topic, and a statement of your results.

The project schedule is as follows:

1/11: Preparation
Review the class schedule and start to think about what topic you might like to work on for a class project. You will have to choose a topic before we cover half of the material in class, but do not let that prevent you from choosing a topic on something that will be discussed later. Also talk with other students in the class and get a sense for the topics that other people are interested in. Think about whom you might want to work with on a project.

1/27: Group Selection
Report the status of your group. If you have not found someone to work with, send me mail with a few areas of interest and I will pair up people. If you have found someone to work with, send me one mail with the names of both people and your areas of interest for the project.

2/1: Group Finalization
We will finalize groups and project areas, and spend the next two weeks developing and defining a project proposal. Based upon your areas of interest, I will suggest papers to read as related work to help you refine your project idea. Do not hesitate to contact or meet with me to discuss project ideas.

2/10: Project Proposal
Each group will submit a 1-2 page project proposal detailing the research topic you have chosen to work on, a brief justification of the topic and how it relates to other work, and an outline of the methodology you will use to evaluate the topic. I will schedule brief meetings with each group to discuss the proposals.

2/24: Checkpoint
I will meet with each group to make sure everything is on track.

3/22: Written Reports
Written reports are due at noon on 3/22. This should give me enough time to read them before the presentations the next day, and leave you enough time to work on the presentation. Early report turnins are also welcome...
3/23: Project Presentations
Project presentations will be given during the final period.


Class grades will be assigned as follows: