Villanova University

Department of Computing Sciences

CSC 3990 Computing Research Topics

Professor:         Dr. Lillian N. Cassel

E-mail:    (Please put CSC 3990 in the subject line to get my attention)
Office Hours:  Tuesday and Thursday 3 to 5 pm.  Others by request.  When my door is open, you are welcome to come in. 

Semester: Fall 2011

Course Description: (From the department website) Centered around the development of a research project in one of several selected computing topics. Experimentation, data collection, literature review. Standard for written presentation of information. Reports of progress required of all students.

  • Students will critically read and synthesize research papers.
  • Students will critically survey the literature on a research topic.
  • Students will critically analyze existing solutions to a research problem.
  • Students will write a literature survey on a computer science research topic.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to formulate research questions.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to find, retrieve and apply computer knowledge as needed.
  • Students will successfully develop and write a research plan.
  • Students will write a research proposal on an open computer science research problem.
  • Students will produce regular progress reports on research project status.
  • Students will demonstrate an ability to give good technical presentations.
  • Students will produce a research proposal to an open computer science research problem, or a conference-style research paper that combines literature survey, experimental design and evaluation, and which will be submitted to a computer science conference.
  • Students will demonstrate knowledge of research ethics and responsible conduct in research.

    Information about the course management:

    Introduction : 

    Every indication is that the best way to learn is to be actively involved in discovery, in creating your own knowledge. As a result, your active participation is a fundamental requirement of this course. You will write and run programs every week.  You will discuss issues related to algorithms and data structures, sometimes in class, sometimes in online discussions.  

    Additional information : 

    Attendance: I assume that every student will attend every class unless I have heard previously that you have a reason for missing class. In all cases, you are responsible to discover what has been done in the class you miss. Just keeping up with class by hearing about happenings from other students is not sufficient, however. Your input into our discussions is important. Your absence not only hurts you; it deprives the rest of the class of the valuable contributions you would have made. A part of the grade is reserved for active participation in every class session. 

    Online component: 

    This class will include regular classroom sessions and also some online sessions.  There will be some occasions when I participate in the class from a distance.  For these classes, you will need access to a computer and internet connection sufficient to display live video.  If you have this type of resource, you may attend the class from your chosen location.  If you do not have access to these resources, they will be provided for you and you will be expected to attend at Villanova.  In any case, your attendance and active participation will be required.


  • This class is about research.  A critical component of any research activity is the ability to communicate.  It is necessary to communicate goals with colleagues and, possibly, funding agencies.  It is also necessary to communicate the results of research activities.  You will read research papers, critique research papers, and write your own research papers.  The quality of your writing will be a significant component of your grade.  Villanova has resources available to help you with writing if you need it and I will be glad to work with you if you have questions or issues to overcome.

    Grading Policy

    Grades will be based on successful and timely completion of assignments, and on active participation in class and in online discussions.

    An undergraduate student who does satisfactory work in assignments receives a grade of C. Better work receives better grades. An A grade requires exceptional work, not just meeting requirements.  A grade of A is certainly achievable, but it is not automatic if you just meet requirements.

    The course will include reading and writing assignments, with programming possible, but not likely to be a significant part of the course.

    Course Web Presence

    There are advantages and disadvantages to the Blackboard course management system used at Villanova.  I prefer that my materials be open and accessible, so I will use this public web site.  We will use the Blackboard site from time to time to take advantage of tools that are there.  Be sure to log in to the course site and become familiar with its use.

    Semester Schedule

    The following calendar will be developed as the class progresses.  We begin with an approximate schedule of topics and readings for the class up until the Fall break week.



    Links_to Slides




    8/27 - 29

    Introduction to the course and our goals. 
    An overview of the computer science discipline to allow you to think about what area you would like to delve into during the semester.
    An introduction to interdisciplinary computing
    Interdisciplinary Computing
    The overview of the computer science discipline will be preliminary.  We will go into this in much greater detail a little later. 



    3rd -- Labor day, no classes
    5th -- Presenting research results.  An anatomy of a research paper. (Brief introduction. More later.)
    Focus: References and Citations.  The EndNote tool
    Conferences and journals and how computer science uses each type of publication.
    Papers in CS

    We will install EndNote on your computers and see how to construct a list of references, how to format references in your paper, and how to enter citations as you write.



    10th -- Guest: Dr. Mirela Damian
    12th -- Research resources in the library.  Mr. Alfred Fry, librarian liaison for computing sciences
    Dr. Damian slides
    Dr. Damian paper
    Due (in Blackboard):  Report on a research paper given earlier.



    17th -- TBA
    19th -- visit: Dr. Robert Beck



    24th -- Visit: Dr. Mirela Damian
    26th -- Visit: Dr. Tom Way
    Dr. Way's materials



    Information Retrieval and Digital Libraries IR + DL



    The Computing Ontology -- A complete inventory of the computing discipline Part1
    Part 2
    Due: (Monday)  Your research project proposal
    Due: (Wednesday) Your classification project
    Due: Preferably this week, but right after break will be accepted: Classification of CS2013 to new Ontology



    Fall Break



    Student experience with research (Monday)



    Presentation of Research Proposals



    Presentation of Bibliography selections from research projects
    Amazon Mechanical Turk, Prezi
    AMT - spam



    Presentation of Research plan.  Clear statement of goal, path to completion.









    Presentation and Review of Research posters

    References (This list will be expanded as the class progresses)