CS557 (Fall 2017) Project #2

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1 Project outline

The purpose of this project is to challenge students to complete a small-scale research-oriented project. Students will be expected to come up with a suitable and original project idea, complete a substantial amount of work in order to demonstrate their idea, and presents results in front of their peers. Throughout the project, the instructor will provide support, although students will be expected to operate independently and show creative thinking and problem-solving skills.

The effort and time commitment dedicated to the project must be proportional to the time allocated to the project (approximately 2 months). Students are allowed to choose between three general project categories, described in the following.

Students are expected to work in pairs, although exceptions may be granted depending on circumstances and the specifics of each project.

1.1 Option #1: Investigation

Students choosing this option will be expected to propose a research-oriented problem which has not been fully explored in literature. Completing this type of project will involve a proof-of-concept implementation of the proposed idea (for example a software implementation, one or more network simulations, a small testbed, etc.) and designing an experiment detailed enough to demonstrate a partial or full solution to the target research problem.

In order to determine a suitable project idea, students are advised to consider their expertise and the areas of networking that are closest to their interests (e.g. a student with FPGA programming expertise may want to look into hardware acceleration of network functions, while a student with data analytics/ML expertise could consider device or user fingerprinting). Furthermore, if a student is already involved in research projects, it is acceptable to consider a project idea which fits into the student pre-existing research agenda (as long as the work has not been already completed, and the students will not receive assistance from third parties). Finally, if a student is planning to perform networking-related research as part of her/his course of study, this project may be a good occasion to get the research started.

1.2 Option #2: Systematization of knowledge

Students choosing this option will be expected to conduct an in-depth survey of academic work (and potentially industry work, if applicable) in a narrow sub-domain of networking.

Note that successfully completing this option will involve more than reading a few papers and writing summaries. Students will be expected to come up with an original and informative taxonomy for the works under review. Students may also need to resort to further analysis of results published in the reviewed paper in order to compare them meaningfully. For example, when examining the throughput of two different solutions for GPU-accelerated signature matching which involve different GPU clocks and signature set sizes, students may need to come up with a simple mathematical model to meaningfully compare the results.

1.3 Option #3: Repeatability study

Students choosing this option will be expected to conduct a repeatability study of results recently published in networking literature.

A recurring issue in modern computer science is the lack of repeatability of many research studies. This issue is typically caused by unclear experimental setup descriptions, and code and/or datasets not being provided. This situation generates various problems, the most serious being a general skepticism of researchers and general public alike concerning the meaningfulness of certain scientific works. This project option requires students to choose a set of papers and attempt to repeat their results. Students will be expect to obtain the necessary implementations and datasets, potentially supplying them with their own work (e.g. to re-implement minor missing components), and run the experiments discussed in the papers under review. Students will then be expected to comment on the feasibility of repeating the results, and the differences between expected and achieved results. Note that failure is a very possible outcome, in which case students will be expected to comment on the reasons that made repeatability impossible. The number of papers considered will depend on the expected difficulty of repeating the results in each paper. Before starting, students are encouraged to assess the repeatability of the studies of interest.

2 Project organization

The students should initiate their work by (i) forming groups (unless they wish to work individually, in which case they should contact the instructor), and (ii) deciding on one or more preliminary projects idea. They should then make an appointment with the instructor to discuss and converge on a concrete project plan (in some cases, more than one meeting may be necessary). Then, they should produce a 1 to 2 pages project description, and have it approved by the instructor by the project approval deadline.

Once the project idea has been approved, students should work on achieving the project goals during the rest of the semester. Students will be responsible to set up regular project meetings with the instructors, during which they will be expected to provide short (1 to 2 pages) project update reports. Before the end of the semesters, each project team will be expected to give a short 20-minute presentation on their work. Finally, at the end of the semester each team will be required to deliver a final project report.

3 Project timeline

Date Goal
10/9/2017 Approved project plan delivered to instructor (by end of the day)
By 11/6/2017 First project meeting
By 11/27/2017 Second project meeting
12/4/2017 Presentation slides due (by end of the day)
12/5/2017 First round of project presentations
12/7/2017 Second round of project presentations (if necessary)
12/12/2017 Final project report due (by end of the day)

4 Deliverables

All documents submitted during the project must clearly state (i) the project title and (ii) the names of the participants in the project.

4.1 Initial project description

Students, through discussions with the instructor, must converge on a project idea and a plan to accomplish that idea. Then, they must produce a 1- to 2-page project description specifying:

  • A project title
  • A project summary
  • A list of project goals and how they will be accomplished
  • An expected schedule for accomplishing intermediate and final goals

The project description must be sent to the instructor in PDF format. This plan must be provided to the instructor by the deadline specified in the table above.

Example project description

4.2 Project meetings and progress reports

Throughout the rest of the semester, students will be required to schedule periodic meetings so that the instructor can monitor the progress and intervene in case the project is in danger of falling short of the goals. It will be the responsibility of students in each project team to contact the instructor to schedule a meeting. Each meeting should be scheduled around the dates specified in the table above.

Before each meeting, students will be expected to send a 1- to 2-page project progress report, in PDF format, to the instructor. This report should specify:

  • A list of goals for the project
  • Which goals have been accomplished, and which still need to be tackled
  • How the student(s) plan to accomplish the remaining goals

Distance students will be expected to arrange remote meetings using Skype or other similar tools.

4.3 Presentation

Before the end of the semester, each project team will be required to give a short presentation showing their work. Presentations should describe the motivation for the project, background on the project's domain, a summary of the work that was done and (if applicable) a summary of experimental results. The presentation should last approximately 15 minutes, after which the audience (including the instructor, the rest of the class, and potentially other interested students/faculty) will be allowed to ask questions (allotted time for questions is 5 minutes per presentation).

The presentation should be based on a slide deck in either PowerPoint, LibreOffice or Keynote format. Students must deliver the slide deck to the instructor ahead of their presentation.

Remote students should provide a recording of the presentation before the class in which their presentation is scheduled, so that the instructor may display it in class. The instructor will collect questions about the presentation from the audience, and will send them to the project team over email. The project team will be expect to answer these questions over email before delivering the final project report.

4.4 Final project report

At the end of the semester, students will be required to deliver a final project report to the instructor. The project report should be structured as a research paper, including abstract, introduction, background, related work, one or more technical sections, and conclusion (sections does not have to appear in this specific order or have these specific titles; this description is purely meant as guidelines for what is expected in the project). The project report should be approximately 12 pages in length and must be written using either Word or LaTex. Students should use either the LaTex or Word IEEE conference template:


Student must deliver both a PDF version of the report, and the sources (i.e. the original Word or LaTex documents) in a single tar.gz file.

No guidance will be provided on using Word or LaTex, and project reports using formats and/or templates other than the ones specified above will not be accepted.

4.5 Other implementation material

If the project involved any implementation work, students should deliver all implementation material (including source code, datasets, virtual machines, etc.) to the instructor together with the project report. In this case, place the implementation material in the same tar.gz file used to upload the final project report, unless the overall size of the implementation material is above 40MB. In that case, students should upload a copy of the implementation material on an online storage service (e.g., Dropbox) and provide a download link to the instructor. Other delivery methods must be discussed with and approved by the instructor.

5 Submitting your work

All deliverables (except large implementation materials, as discussed above) must be submitted using the course Canvas page by the deadlines stated above (in the case of periodic project reports, such reports must be uploaded prior to the meeting with the instructor, regardless of the deadline stated in Canvas). An assignment group has been created for the second class project. Students must upload their materials to the appropriate assignments. Note that it is enough that one person per team performs the upload (i.e. different team members do not need to upload the material individually).

6 Grading

  • No credit will be given to students that fail to provide all deliverables (deliverables include: having the project description approved by the instructor and submitted by the deadline; attending routine project meetings with the instructor and delivering progress reports; giving the final presentation; delivering final project report and all implementation-related materials)
  • 10% Originality of the project idea: was the student able to come up with an original and insightful research problem?
  • 25% Commitment and effort: did the student show commitment and effort to demonstrate the project idea?
  • 10% Project organization and management: was the student able to set reasonable intermediate goals for herself/himself, and how timely and completely were those goals achieved?
  • 25% Quality of results: was the student able to successfully achieve the expected results (or, if not, did the student learned valuable insights into the problem that could lead to success in future research)?
  • 10% Presentation skills: was the student able to present the work in an informative way, and answer questions from the audience meaningfully?
  • 20% Final project report: does the project report presents an exhaustive and informative exposition of the project's goals and results?

Note that some goals (and grades) are interrelated. If you do not put enough effort in the project, you will likely not gather any interesting result or insight, and your presentation and final report will not be very informative. Students are therefore encouraged to plan carefully and ensure they invest the necessary time and effort in the project.

This project description may change at the discretion of the instructor. Good luck!

Author: Lorenzo De Carli

Created: 2017-10-16 Mon 10:40