CS 641 (Advanced) Computer Networks: Term paper

Autum 2015

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What is the goal of the term paper?

The goal of the term paper is to read one topic of your interest in some amount of detail, and present your understanding of the topic in your own words in a short writeup. Your term paper should serve as a good "survey paper" on your topic - anyone with a basic understanding of networking should be able to read your report and leave with good understanding of the topic.

There are several ways to go about picking a topic: you can start from one of the advanced topics discussed in class, you can pick a recent topic you heard on the news, or you can start from any of the latest papers published in top-tier conferences. Start with reading the research paper in more detail. Then, follow the references to get a few more additional papers to read. You can also find good technical blogs or articles on the Internet (with some patient googling). You are expected to spend at least 20-30 hours reading up a topic, till you gain a thorough understanding of it. You are advised to pick a recent "hot" topic, though you are welcome to read some of the classic papers as well. Please note that your reading should roughly be 2-3 full-length papers (20-30 pages) worth of material. (In other words, please don't read a 3-page article and start writing a term paper on it!)

Once you read a topic, spend a few hours writing up your understanding of the topic in your own words in the form of a report. Your report should ideally be between 6-8 pages. Your report should consist of the following parts (roughly):

Possible topics

You can pick from one of the following one of these topics covered in class: Alternately, you can look through the latest proceedings of top-tier conferences, and pick any paper that you find interesting. You can then follow the references from that paper to get a set of 2-3 papers on that topic, and get going. Some of the top conferences in the field of networking are ACM SIGCOMM, Usenix NSDI, and ACM CoNEXT. You should be able to find their latest proceedings online.

Finally, you are welcome to pick any topic that you have heard being discussed and were curious to know more about. Please make sure your topic is related to this course though! Also, for students who have done a seminar elsewhere, you may NOT reuse the same topic for this term paper. All reading (not just the writing) must be original!

Tips and guidelines

Submission guidelines

You will be required to upload a soft copy (pdf only) of your writeup on Moodle before the due date. The filename should be your rollnumber (e.g., 1500001.pdf). All submissions are individual. Your submission should be under 8 pages.

I'm happy to discuss topics or ideas with you any time during the semester. Please get in touch if you'd like to talk.


Your report is worth 10% of the grade in the course. Of this, 5% will be given to presentation, clarity, and generally good writing. 5% of the grade will be for how extensive your reading was, how thoroughly you have covered a given topic, and how insightful your report is.