COM496: Research Seminar



The CS faculty at Connecticut College believe that undergraduate research is essential for CS majors.  Indeed, it is one of the major strengths of the Connecticut College Computer Science Program.  The ability to conduct independent research is probably the main characteristic of interest to employers who wants innovative employees, as well as to universities when considering graduate school applicants.  Not only will undergraduate student research set you apart from other college graduates who will most likely not have had the opportunity to conduct novel CS research, the process will also greatly deepen and enrich your undergraduate education.  Since CS tends to be strongly interdisciplinary, you are encouraged to pursue cross-disciplinary work in your research projects.  Common areas of collaboration are with art, music, biology, physics, economics, chemistry, neuroscience, psychology, and philosophy, but you are of course encouraged to forge your own connections as well!



Mondays 7 pm to 9:45 pm in Blaustein 211



Christine Chung




Your grade in this class will be established through consultation with your research adviser.  It will be a reflection of your combined performance in this class and in your research.  For more details on grading, see below.

Required for Computer Science Majors

COM495 (offered every fall) and COM496 (offered every spring) are required courses for computer science majors. Students who would normally take independent studies to work on research projects will sign up for these courses. The faculty member assigned to the course will be the course coordinator.  Students will be doing research directly with faculty in their area of interest. Please see the CS Research Page for available areas of research.  It is required that students contact the faculty member they will be working with either before enrolling in the course (preferred) or within one week of the course’s first meeting date.


Course Description

Practicum in computer science research.  An introduction to research methods and implementation of a major research project. Students will read, present, and discuss technical papers; write a research proposal; make weekly reports; raise issues for class discussion; complete their research; write a technical paper; and do a public presentation. May be repeated unlimited times for credit.
Prerequisite: 300 level course in the area of computer science research or permission of instructor.

Student Learning Objectives


The course will meet weekly with a 2.5 hour session.  The weekly meeting will be for students to discuss their research projects (all the students in the class will present their progress and raise issues for discussion) and for one student to present a research paper pertinent to the topic they are studying. The students will be required to develop a research timeline, write a research proposal, complete their body of research, write a technical paper, and do a presentation at the end of the course.




Research Quality

(as indicated on Research Log, Progress Sheet, and Meetings with research adviser)


Final Presentation


Final Paper


Class Participation



Research Quality – The objective of this class is to complete a body of research, which will be completed in two semesters. For larger projects, it is possible, and encouraged, to extend the research to over more than two semesters. The amount and level of research completed will be determined by your advisor. It is important that you develop a research plan with weekly goals and that you keep track of your progress. A Google Docs spreadsheet will be provided for you to keep this information. It is expected that each student in this class will work 10 to 15 hours per week (including class time and meetings with their advisor) on the project. In order to help you keep up with this weekly workload, you will be required to log any hours spent on the project in this spreadsheet. These spreadsheets will be checked regularly by your advisor and the course instructor.


Final Presentation – At the end of the semester there will be a session where all students enrolled in the Research Seminar will present their work to the CS Dept and others who wish to attend.


Final Paper – A final paper of the quality needed for submission to a conference is to be completed.


Class Participation – Attendance and participation at every class is important part of this seminar. The grade here will include how well you present your research updates to the class and the quantity and quality of your discussion of the research presented by others.


Homework – Homework will be assigned to assist you in the completion of your research and/or paper. Although not listed with a specific percentage of the overall grade, the quality of the homework will help the advisor and instructor in assigning grades to the components of the course listed above.