CSCE 681: Graduate Seminar

Course Homepage

Class meeting: Mondays and/or Wednesdays, 4:10-5:25pm
Seminar schedule:

Ricardo Gutierrez-Osuna
office: 309 Peterson Bldg
email: rgutier [at] 
office phone: 979-845-2942

Course Goals: The purpose of the course is to expose students to a broad range of current research topics in computer science and related fields. Every graduate student in the department must register for the seminar at least once during their graduate studies.

All graduate students are encouraged to attend as many seminars as possible, not only during the semester(s) during which they are registered. It is useful for you to attend even when the topic seems unrelated to your research – indeed, seminars provide the best way for you to round out your knowledge by exposing you to current research in areas that are not directly related to your own research.

Course Content and Schedule: This course consists of seminars which will be presented roughly once a week, on a Monday and/or a Wednesday. Generally, after the speaker is finished, there will be a question and answer period where the audience can ask any questions they might have that were not answered during the seminar. This is often quite interesting and is considered part of the seminar (so you should not leave until it is over).

The schedule will be continually evolving, but there will be a minimum of 14 seminars over the course of the semester. You are responsible for checking the seminar schedule on the web, your email (announcements will be sent to mailing list for all graduate students) and notifications on e-learning tools for up to date information. Be sure to check each Monday and Wednesday as sometimes seminars will be announced/cancelled at the last moment.

Although you should reserve the entire scheduled time slot, in most cases the seminars will finish a few minutes early. If the speaker is not finished, or if the question and answer period is ongoing, you are expected to stay until the end of the talk.

If you are in the seminar, you are expected to pay attention and refrain from activities such as doing other work, reading the newspaper, surfing the web, or sleeping. Behavior such as this gives speakers a bad impression of our graduate program and students. Students noticed exhibiting such behavior will not receive credit for attending that seminar.

NOTE: You should start attending lectures, and submitting paper/seminar reports, early on in the semester.  Lectures are occasionally canceled (e.g., the speaker misses a flight, or becomes ill), so if this happens at the end of the semester you may find yourself in a situation where there are not enough lectures left for you to fulfill the course requirements (see below).

Mechanics and Grading: To receive credit for this course you must satisfy all of the following requirements:

  • Satisfactorily complete at least 6 Paper Reports. (Note: Paper reports can only be done for CSCE 681 seminars for which the student also submits a Seminar Report, i.e., you will not receive credit for a paper report if you miss the corresponding seminar.)
  • Satisfactorily complete at least 12 Seminar Reports.

Paper Reports

To receive credit for a paper report, you will select a technical paper authored by the speaker, read it, prepare a report as outlined below, and submit it in to Canvas at least 10 minutes before the beginning of the associated seminar.  You can select any paper* authored by the speaker, as long as it is a full-length (at least 8 pages or 8,000 words), technically rigorous paper that has appeared in (or is accepted to) a peer-reviewed conference or journal. As examples, full papers in IEEE Transactions or ACM Journals or Conferences would be appropriate, while posters, short papers (~4 pages), papers published in magazines, such as Communications of the ACM or IEEE Spectrum would NOT be appropriate.  Papers published without peer review (e.g., are also not appropriate.

* The only exception to this rule is when the talk is about a seminal paper (not book) in the field, typically a paper authored by someone else rather than the speaker him/herself.  In this case, your paper report must be about the specific seminal paper being presented.  The abstract of the talk, as published in the schedule, typically makes it clear when the talk is about a specific, seminal paper (not book).

The goal of the paper reports is to allow students to become familiar with the topic of the presentation prior to the presentation. This will enable them to better understand the talk and will give them time to formulate questions. Students are encouraged to discuss a given paper with other students in the course for better understanding of the paper content; each student, however, is required to write an independent paper report.

Each paper report will receive a grade of 0 or 1. You must receive a grade of 1 on the paper report to receive credit for it towards the 6 required reports.

The paper report should be prepared using using a word processing system and be roughly 2 pages in length (single-spaced, at most 11 point font, or about 1,000-1,200 words) . It must include clearly labeled sections, as listed below:

  • Paper Bibliography Information: title, author(s), where and when published, pages, year, etc. This should be presented as a it would be in the list of references at the end of the paper. (Remember, select a paper satisfying the requirements listed above.)
  • Summary (at least 1 page). Provide a high-level summary of the paper including the following clearly labeled points.
    • Problem Statement: In your own words identify the problem addressed in the paper and why the problem is significant.
    • Proposed Solution: Describe the solution method proposed by the author(s) or the analysis completed by the author(s).
    • Results/Findings: Summarize the major results/findings/conclusions of the paper.
  • Critique (at least 1/2 page): Provide your critique of the paper, as if you were were reviewing a paper submitted for publication. Describe your opinions (positive and negative) about the research, note aspects strengths and weaknesses of the paper, identity items you particularly like and those that you think could be improved (and note how), identify open issues that relate to the problem area but are not addressed in the paper, etc. This is the most important part of the report.
  • Ideas for Follow-On work (at least 1/2 page): Describe your ideas for extending and improving upon the paper. You should clearly and explicitly explain the idea you have for improving the paper and also how you would go about implementing it.

Seminar Reports for CSCE 681 seminars

To receive credit for attending a regular CSCE 681 seminar (this includes Distinguished Lectures presented during the normal CSCE 681 time slot), students must prepare a short report of the seminar on a form that will be available in the classroom at the beginning of the seminar. The completed forms are due at the conclusion of the seminar (after the conclusion of the final question and answer session) and will be collected at the conclusion of the seminar.

Each seminar report will receive a grade of 0 or 1. You must receive a grade of 1 on the seminar report to receive credit for it towards the 12 required reports.