CSCI 390 Spring 2012 Senior Seminar

The senior seminar course will consist of two components: the seminar component (in Logan 105 on Mondays from 4:20-5:25 p.m.) and the project component.

Semester Schedule

January 9 Organizational meeting
January 23 Student presentation of project proposals (approx. 5 minutes each):
  1. Ethan
  2. Luke
  3. Reggie
  4. Trevor
  5. Jaime
  6. Michael
  7. Dani
  8. Justin
January 30 Ethan:
Read pages 3-5 and 14-16 from On the Design of Application Protocols.

  • Of the 4 listed design ideas which do you think is the best?
  • Does HTTP seem to be a viable solution for a client-server control protocol?
  • Which of the listed protocol properties seems most important? Which seem trivial?
  • If you were to design a two way protocol such as the one in this paper what would you focus on?
February 6 Jeremy:
Read The Rise of Data Mining.

  • What exactly is data mining?
  • What are some of the foundations of data mining and how are they the foundation?
  • How is data mining important today?
February 13 Luke
Read Why History Needs Software Piracy.

  • Do you agree with or disagree with the point the article is making, in that software piracy is needed to preserve programs of a bygone era? Argue your point based off of an ethics viewpoint you've learned so far while at Xavier.
  • How would you preserve this software in a legal manner if you didn't wish to pirate it?
  • Can piracy be beneficial in other ways? In other words, can it ever be beneficial for a business to promote piracy of its product?
  • Will there ever be an effective anti-piracy measure?
February 20 Reggie
Read the Wikipedia page on Bioinformatics and UCSF Leaders Explore Bioinformatics in Research, Patient Care and Education.

  • What is the primary goal of bioinformatics?
  • Do you agree that bioinformatics could play a critical role in patient care and help to improve medical practices?
  • The article describes how the problem with improving patient care is not only identifying data to collect and the use of the data, but "unlocking the data" we already have. How do you think researchers can better utilize the data we already have and improve patient care?
  • If Bioinformatics was offered at Xavier, would you be interested in taking the course? If there were other courses offered that combined Computer Science with one of the other sciences (chemistry, physics, etc), would that be of interest to you as well?
February 27 Trevor
Read Striking It Rich In The App Store: For Developers, It's More Casino Than Gold Mine.

  • Why do you think/not think that Apple is the most powerful company in the world? What do you think is the key to their success?
  • Why do you think that mobile applications have become so successful?
  • Why do you think Tetris is the most downloaded cell phone game ever (besides the fact that it has been around for longer than games like Angry Birds/or is its age the only reason)?
  • What is it that you like about your favorite apps? UI? Controls? Background music? Graphics?
  • What made you download your now favorite app?
  • How often do you use your apps? Have they become a part of your life/routine?
  • If you were going to make an app, what would you want to make?
  • If you developed an app for a year, would you make it a free app or charge money?
March 12 Midterm Reports (approx. 5 minutes each):
  1. Justin
  2. Dani
  3. Michael
  4. Jaime
  5. Trevor
  6. Reggie
  7. Luke
  8. Ethan
March 19 Jaime
Read Applications of Graph Theory in Computer Science an Overview.

  • What other problems might have graph-theoretic solutions?
  • This article suggests that graph theory and algorithmic solutions to its problems have wide applications. To what extent should a computer science curriculum focus on these and other combinatorial problems? In today's software-driven world, are the solutions to such problems relevant?
  • Is this knowledge what separates a Computer Scientist from a Software Engineer?
  • To what extent should the lower level courses focus on combinatorial problems? When should we introduce these problems to a class?and how are they the foundation?
  • How is data mining important today?
March 26 Michael
Start by reading the short Wikipedia entry on algorithmic composition. Follow this by reading pages 1-6 of this dissertation on algorithmic music. Assuming you are still interested, check out this popular piece regarding an algorithm to determine a song's popularity. Finally, you can play with an online music generator yourself.

  • What are some advantages/disadvantages to algorithmic music?
  • Is it worthwhile to study in a music degree course? or possibly a computer science degree course?
  • Does Algorithmic music strike you as a valid means of composing music?
  • Is it really even what you would consider "music"?
April 2 Dani
Read both Will Electronic Medical Records Improve Health Care?, and
The Era of Electronic Medical Records.

  • What are some advantages of having electronic medical records/electronic health records?
  • The article talks about cost as a major problem of digitizing medical records, what are some other problems?
  • How much of the success of EMR depends on the physician’s willingness to learn how to use the system? If this is a main problem, how can we resolve it?
  • What are some ways that we can ensure different systems of the health care network (hospitals, etc.) can communicate with one another? Should standards be put in place?
April 16 Justin
Read both Philosophy of artificial intelligence, and
Can computers have true artificial intelligence?

  • Do you think we will ever achieve true, sentient artificial intelligence? Why or why not?
  • If it were accomplished, when would we know? Would we have to treat the AI like humans? Where would we draw the line?
  • Can a machine have a mind, consciousness and mental states? Can a machine be self aware?
  • Is thinking a kind of computation? What do you think of the Chinese Room problem?
  • Can a machine be original or creative?
April 18 (WEDNESDAY) Final Presentations I (Logan 101):
  1. 4:00: Luke
  2. 4:30: Jaime
  3. 5:00: Justin
April 23 (MONDAY) Final Presentations II (Logan 101):
  1. 4:30: Reggie
  2. 5:00: Dani
  3. 5:30: Trevor
April 25 (WEDNESDAY) Final Presentations III (Logan 101):
  1. 3:00: Michael
  2. 3:30: Ethan
April 29 (SUNDAY) Final Dinner: 7:30 at the Hofbrauhaus

Seminar Component:

Each week the seminar will meet on Mondays from 4:20-5:25 in tba to discuss a current article or paper. Students will take turns being responsible for leading the seminar discussion. Each student will lead one seminar session.

Each person will choose their own article or paper to present and will distribute their faculty guide-approved article or paper on the Wednesday preceding its discussion. Along with the article or paper, each person will also distribute/post 3-5 questions to help the other seminar participants focus their reading. The article or paper should be related to the student's research project.

ALL students are responsible for reading each week's assigned article/paper, and for coming prepared to discuss it at the seminar. Attendance is mandatory and PARTICIPATION COUNTS! Every two unexcused absences will result in a letter grade drop.

Project Component:

Each student will undertake a significant self-directed project under the guidance of Gary, Liz, or Mike. (Other project mentors must be approved by the course instructor.)

Projects must contain or embody the self-directed learning of an academically rigorous CS topic that is new to the student. When deciding what is an appropriate topic one should bear in mind that CS is the study of algorithms and not the study of technology. Projects typically involve either:

An implementation exercise is neither a necessary nor is it a sufficient condition for defining a satisfactory senior project.

Examples of worthwhile projects are:

Students must submit a short project proposal and projected completion time line signed by their faculty guide/mentor no later than Friday, January 20, 2012. If you miss this deadline, then you fail the course.

In addition to the weekly seminar, students are expected to meet regularly with their faculty guide. Students are expected to keep a project log and to complete satisfactory progress on a regular basis. Furthermore, each student will briefly (2 minutes or so) discuss at the seminar session their progress on their project.

Finally, at the end of the semester, each student will make a public presentation (approx. 20-30 minutes) of their senior project and submit a writeup of their work. What constitutes an appropriate writeup is to be negotiated between the student and their faculty guide.


Your grade for the course will be based on your participation in the seminar discussions, the quality of your preparations for the seminar discussion you will lead, the quality of your weekly mentor interactions, the final public presentation, and your work on your project.

Rubric for Senior Project grading.

The CS faculty as a whole will be assigning the final grades.

The faculty have very high expectations for success from all of the seniors. Nevertheless a grade of "A" will be reserved only for those whose work/performance is deemed exceptional in all areas of the course. A "B" grade will represent good work, while a "C" grade will be assigned to those whose work is judged to be satisfactory. Any student whose work/performance is judged to be less than satisfactory will receive the failing grade, "F".