Advising

Thesis

All graduate students are encouraged to get involved in research projects. A student in the M.C.S. program can simply complete the required courses, but would miss one of the most interesting parts of graduate school by not getting involved with a research project. A student in the Ph.D. program must get involved in research during the first two years in order to continue in the program.


Recommended Plan

  • Fall of your first year: take CS 457 if you need the background in undergraduate computer networks. Attend the research group meetng CS 696, but dont enroll. Also attend the research group meetings for some other areas such as Distributed Systems. This helps you learn what researchers are doing.
  • Spring of your first year: take CS 557 to get a graduate level view of computer networks. Attend the research group meetng CS 696, but dont enroll. Pay particular attention to the CS 557 projects, these can lead to longer term research projects.
  • Summer of your first year: research doesn't stop when the academic year ends. In fact, faculty and students often get more work done over summer than any other time. Attend the research group meetng CS 696, but dont enroll. See if your CS 557 project can continue in summer or ask if one of the funded research projects has Graduate Research Assistant (GRA) positions.
  • Fall of your second year: take CS 657 to explore topics in depth. Ideally your CS 657 project can lead to a publication or even an eventual thesis. Attend the research group meetng CS 696 and enroll in the course.
  • Spring of your second year: Ideally your CS 657 project from last semester can continue and lead to a publication or even an eventual thesis. Attend the research group meetng CS 696 and enroll in the course. You may also want to enroll in an independent study course such as CS 699. You should now be working on research projects and actively participating in the research group meetings.
  • Summer of your second year: research doesn't stop when the academic year ends. In fact, faculty and students often get more work done over summer than any other time. Attend the research group meetng CS 696, but dont enroll. Ph.D. students are expected to be on campus and actively engaged in research over the summer. In some cases, students may be at summer internships that are relevant to their research.

The Reasoning Behind The Plan

The first and most important step is to take the 500 level course in your research area. Research almost always builds on past results. You must understand what has already been done in order to advance the field. The 500 level course will introduce you to the seminal work in your area. The 500 level course may also raise some open issues. In other words, you learn what has been done and learn what needs to be done. For students interested in networks, you should take CS 557. This course is typically offered in the spring semester.

Another important step is to attend research group meetings. A research group meeting may include a discussion of recent activity on a funded project or may include a practice presentation for an upcoming conference talk, research exam, or preliminary exam. Everyone is encouraged to ask questions and identify potential issues. The research group meetings help you learn about active projects and let you see what your fellow students are doing. For students interested in networks, the research group meeting is CS 696. This course is typically offered every semester, including summer. New students should NOT enroll in the course, but you welcome to attend.

Finally, the 600 level course in your area has substantial projects that can become publications and potentially thesis topics. For students interested in networks, the 600 level course is CS 657. This course is typically offered every fall.