CSCI 732: Research Practicum

Fall 2012
Monday Wednesday 5:00pm - 6:15pm
NSB A223
Instructor: Andrew Rosenberg (
Office Hours: Monday 3:45-4:45pm NSB A330

Course Description

This class will provide an introduction to the fundamentals of research in Computer Science. This term, students will perform research within the field of Natural Language Processing with a particular focus on speech, spoken language and dialog.

The course will discuss research in general, in computer science and in natural language processing.

Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, a student can expect to be able:

  1. To read and summarize research papers in computer science.
  2. To write a proposal for a research project.
  3. To review the merits of a research proposal.
  4. To execute and evaluate a research project.
  5. To write a project report.


None. Readings will be posted as needed. Lecture Notes will be available for most lectures.

Class Policies

Come to Class. A major component of this class is participation and presentation.

Cell phones must be on silent, and are not to be checked or used during class - if you are expecting an urgent call, tell the instructor at the start of class.

No laptops, tablets or lab computers.

Cell phone and Laptop policy: One warning, after that 5 points off the next homework for each issue. Same policy for the instructor. One warning, after that, everyone gets 5 points on the next homework.

Grading Policy

Participation: 10%

Assignments: 50% (4 x 12.5%)

Final Project: 40%

The Final Letter Grade will be based on a scaled adjustment of the Final Numeric Grade. When the scale has been determined, the class will be informed either in class or over email, and it will be posted to the course webpage (here).

Assignment Policy

Do not cheat. You may discuss assignments with your classmates, but write or program your assignment alone. Do not ask for or offer to share code, or written assignments. If you discuss an assignment with a classmate, or on an online forum, include the name of the classmate or URL of the forum on your assignment or in the documentation of your code. The first instance of cheating results in an automatic zero for the assignment (or final project). A second instance of cheating results in a zero (F) for the course. The Computer Science Department will be notified in writing of all instances of cheating. On a second instance a report will be submitted to the Office of Academic Integrity.

Assignments will be posted to the website (here) after class the date that they are assigned.

All assignments will be scored out of 100 points.

There are 5 assignments. Each assignment will have a theoretical (pen-and-paper) component. Assignments may also include an implementation (coding) component.

Assignments will be due by 11:59pm on their due date. Assignments should be delivered electronically, via email.

No late assignments will be accepted. If an extension is needed let me know as early as possible. I will do my best to be reasonable to you and fair to the rest of class. No extensions will be granted after 24 hours before the assignment is due.

Coding Assignments

If there are programming requirements to any assignment, coding assignments can be written in C++, java or python.

In general, grading will be 65% Implementation (compilation, passing tests, implementational details) and 35% Documentation and Style. This may be adjusted for some assignments. Always read the assignment for the grading breakdown.

Detailed requirements will accompany each assignment. The instructions and requirements on a particular assignment always take precedence over the general guidelines on the course website.

Submission of coding assignments should be performed over electronically. Submitting multiple times is fine. The latest assignment submitted on time will be graded. If you submit an assignment late, after submitting an assignment on time, you must let me know, via email, that you would like the late submission graded for the assignment.

README guidelines

Each coding assignment will require a README file as a component of its documentation. A README file should provide a high-level description of your assignment, or project.

A successful README file will include the following:

Written Assignments

Written Assignments should also be delivered electronically, via email or google docs.

Electronic copies must be in one of the following formats: .pdf, Microsoft Word .doc, Google Docs.

Points for each question will be described in each assignment.

Incomplete Policy

In extenuating circumstances, students may be given an Incomplete if material has not been completed by the end of the semester. When an incomplete is granted, the student and instructor will specify, in writing, a timeframe for all outstanding material to be submitted. If no other timeframe has been specified in writing, the deadline for all outstanding material to be submitted to resolve an incomplete will be one month following the last meeting of the class. This semester, that would make the deadline: January 12. An incomplete that is not resolved by the deadline will become an F.

Final Project

The Final Project will be an original research project. Possible project ideas will be presented in class. Individual meetings about the project topics will take place early in the semester. A progress meeting will take place more than 2 weeks before the project is due. Part of the project will be a short (5-10 minute) presentation of your work.

The goal of the project is to perform a research project and report its results. This will involve some implementation of experimental code and scripts, evaluation on data set as well as comparing the results to other approaches. Some part of this project should be novel. Good project ideas will involve either a modification to an existing approach to a problem, or a novel problem entirely. Note: a successful project does not need to generate state-of-the-art results. Novelty, however, is expected. A short, 4 page, report on the algorithm, dataset/problem, and evaluation is expected as part of the project.


Date Material Assignments
Monday, August 27 Welcome. Introduction and Overview.
[pptx] [lecture notes]
Wednesday, August 29 Research Lifecycle.
[pptx] [lecture notes]
Monday, September 3 No Class - Labor Day
Wednesday, September 5 Introduction to Natural Language Processing and Speech.
Monday, September 10 Guest Lecturer: Liang Huang.
Wednesday, September 12 Class Cancelled due to Interspeech 2012 Homework 1 (Generating Ideas) Assigned
Monday, September 17 No class scheduled
Wednesday, September 19 Guest Lecturer: Changhe Yuan.
Monday, September 24 Statistics and Machine Learning in Computer Science Research
[pptx] [lecture notes]
Homework 1 Due.
Wednesday, September 26 No class scheduled
Monday, October 1 Discussion of Brainstorming Results
Wednesday, October 3 Statistical Tests and Machine Learning Homework 2 (Literature Review) Assigned
Monday, October 8 Columbus Day - College Closed
Wednesday, October 10 Evaluation, Observation and Empiricism.
Monday, October 15 Evaluation, Observation and Empiricism II
Wednesday, October 17 Writing Research Proposals.
Homework 2 Due. Homework 3 assigned
Monday, October 22 Evaluating Research Proposals.
Wednesday, October 24 Preparing and Delivering Oral Presentations.
Monday, October 29 Classes cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy. Homework 3 Due. Homework 4 Assigned.
Wednesday, October 31 Classes cancelled due to Hurricane Sandy.
Monday, November 5 Support Vector Machines
Wednesday, November 7 Writing Research Papers.
Homework 4 Due.
Monday, November 12 Assessing Research Proposals
Wednesday, November 14 Class Cancelled.
Monday, November 19 Oral Presentations (Part 1)
Wednesday, November 21 Oral Presentations (Part 2)
Monday, November 26 Writing Research Papers exercises. Research Code
Wednesday, November 28 Introduction to Speech Recognition and Spoken Language Processing
Monday, December 3 Class Cancelled.
Wednesday, December 5 Class Cancelled.
Monday, December 10 Automatic Prosodic Analysis.
Wednesday, December 12 Topics in Speech and Natural Language Processing.
Wednesday, December 19 4:00-6:00 Research Presentations Final Projects Due at Midnight.