Guidelines/Hints for Reports

As you may all know, HW0 is indtendend to be a learning exercise. You can improve your grade. If there is one single message I want to convey, it's that there are multiple audiences, and you should know which is/are the important one(s). Your job in writing any peice of communication is to make best use of their bandwidth.

  1. Don't forget a title and your name. Just because the report is in a tarball emailed from your account, don't assume that we will know from just the report who wrote it.
  2. On a similar note, when you email us a tarball or a report, please use a file name that identifies you and the assignment, e.g., SanjayLab0Report.pdf.
  3. Start your report with a short recap of the objectives as stated in the Lab announcement. You should paraphrase and shorten it. Don't simply cut and paste it from the lab announcement (also see discussion below on plagiarism).
  4. Next, state your hypotheses, e.g., "The running times are stable with respect to repeated observations, and we can deduce the functions through simple manipulation and linear least-squares fit." We Computer Scientists are often sloppy with the scientific method. This will make you think a bit about it.
  5. Make sure that your report is self contained: please include all graphs and figures necessary to understand your data and conclusions. However, don't put bash scripts, gnuplot transcripts, raw data etc., right in the middle of running text, but (if you really really believe that it must be included) leave it as a clearly marked appendix.
  6. Avoid repetition. Imagine how you would feel if you had to read a book where portions we simply cut and pasted from chapters you had previously read?
  7. Always Look for ways to shorten your report. Do you need a separate plot for each function? Can you fuse common parts of the description of your thinking for each function be "factored out?"
  8. What is the range of input values on which you run your experiments? Why? Do you need to evaluate the function for every value in the range? Remember, we usually want to see the asymptotic behavior of the function. So a larger range would be better. How high should you go? Use your judgement.
  9. How many times should you run a code for the same set of parameters? (aka, number of reps)? Although it didn't happen in this lab, you will see down the road that the larger the reps, the longer you job takes to run. This time that could be better spent getting more information about the function, by sampling at different input size and/or numbers of processors. A lot depends on how much intereferennce there is on the machine. Often, as few as three to five reps for a single combination of parameters n and p (problem size and number of processors) may be enough.
  10. Avoid repetition. Imagine how you would feel if you had to read a book where portions we simply cut and pasted from chapters you had previously read? Get the point?

  11. Beware of plagiarism. The Writing Center has a good explanation. Remember, cut-and-paste is synonymous with quote, so use quote marks, and say where it came from.
  12. Label your plots, and make sure the labels are consistent (when you cut-and-paste-and edit in your gnuplot script, be sure to edit the caption and comments too, not just the formulas. Use descriptive captions for all your figures.