USC Viterbi - School of Engineering - Department of Computer Science CSCI 586 Database Systems Interoperability

Course Announcements


New Class Participation Rules:
Over this and the past week, we have tried different ways of encouraging participation from the class, so that we can assign approperiate participation grades to all the students in a fair manner. To ensure smooth flow of the presentations, here are the updated rules:
  • The class participation will be evaluated based on attendance and occasional pop quizzes only. The pop quizzes may take two forms: on paper for the entire class or posed in the class so students can raise their hands to answer.
  • We will not have pop-quizzes every week. We will only occasionally take the quizzes at the end of the class depending on the time.
  • Audience members can ask questions only during the Q&A at the end of each presentation. There will be no credit for the audience members for that. The presenters may get credit based on how well they handled those questions.
  • Audience members will not get any credit for asking questions posed by the presenters. The quality of those questions will only affect the presenter's grade.


Emailing the Staff:
All emails must be sent to all members of course staff: Professor, TA, and Course Producer. Failure to do so may result in delayed follow-up on your email.

Students who haven't selected a paper:
According to our records, two students from Monday and one student from Wednesday class have not yet selected a paper to present. We advise those students to do that as soon as possible. We strongly encourage other students to also check the course outline page to ensure that their names appear below the papers they have selected and there are no discrepancies. If there is an issue, please notify the course staff immediately.

Projects Finalization:

Students yet to be part of a project group
Today is the deadline for project team formulation. To assist, in team formation, we have added a column for assigned project group on the Student page on the course website. This will greatly assist in finding students who are not part of any project team at the moment. Please use that to contact other students in similar situation. Also, use the Projects page to contact people who are in 3-person groups. Students who will not be part of any team by Monday, will be either i) grouped together in a team, ii) or we will try to add them in teams that have fewer than four members.

Students who are already part of a project group
  • If you are part of a 3-person team, please reach out to students who aren't in any team. Use the updated student lists on the course website for that.
  • You have a week to finalize your project. Send us a short paragraph describing what you want to do in the project. This should include the datasets/websites you intend to use as input, brief description of the approach, and the type of queries, results, or computations your system will enable users to ask or acquire from it.

Paper Presentation Guidelines:
Please know that the goal of Professor and the other staff is to make CSCI586 a high quality course so we can all learn together! We have a "flipped-classroom" kind of course, that is strongly discussion-based i.e., discussion during the presentation, motivated by the presenter. Before sending us your drafts and presenting in the class, please make sure that you address these points during preparation and presentation:
  1. Include slide numbers.
  2. Please do not ask very basic questions. 1/3rd of the presentation grade is based on discussion handled by the presenters. We encourage the presenters to ask meaningful questions, instead of asking basic questions e.g. what is Semantic Web, ontology, IR, NLP etc.
  3. Please do not show the answer of the questions on the slide while you are asking it. There is no point in asking a question for which the answer is clearly written on the slides. Use animations to make the answer appear on the next click or next slide, after the audience has tried to answer it. Please do not ask questions where you are making the audience guess what is going to be on the slide e.g. you first show the title of the slide or a heading and ask "what do you think this heading/slide is about?" This is not a guessing game. First, present the main concept (or some part of it) and then ask questions. Your slides are like a lecture you are giving. First develop thorough understanding of the paper yourself and then prepare the slides as if a teacher would do.
  4. We strongly encourage students to use the Viterbi Presentation template for their presentations. Here are the links: potx, pptx. For final version after the presentation, please email us the PDF.
  5. If you have nothing meaningful to say about an equation, figure, table, algorithm, please don't include it. We don't want you to flash a slide or skip a slide and say "this is not important". If something is not important, it shouldn't be on your slides. If you are skipping slides, then you didn't put enough effort in your presentation.
  6. Paragraphs can be replaced by sentences, sentences can be replaced by bullet points. Algorithms can be replaced by diagrams. If you can convey the intuition behind an algorithm or an equation in a better way by using your own figure or by an example then that is much better than copying and pasting something from the paper. This is not to say that you cannot have figures, algorithms and tables copied from the paper. Of course, you can, as long as their inclusion is justifed i.e., the strengthen your narration.
  7. The main part of any presentation is what you are saying and how effective you are at that. Slides only help you to keep on track and project the key ideas in front of everyone. Don't read long text off the slides, don't ask the audience to read the slides. If you truly understand the concept behind paragraphs, algorithms, and equations, then you can explain them with minimal visual aid. Slides are there to help you present, not to present for you. Too much content on the slides makes the presentation a recitation. Too little content makes it a speech. Making a good presentation is finding the right balance between the two. Use the text and figures on your slides in a way that strengthen your presentation. It shouldn't feel like that you had no idea about what is in the paper, so you put everything from the paper on the slides.
  8. Do you need to write on the board? Ask yourself that and then consider the fact that there is a giant size screen at your disposal to show whatever you want to show. Use that intelligently. This is not to say that you can't use whiteboards. You can use it when the situation demands, e.g. if a question from audience requires you to do so. Don't use hand drawn graphics made in paint or from a scanned paper in your presentation. It doesn't take that long to create nice looking graphics. You can also use figures from the paper.
  9. DO NOT read from papers, notes, and slides while presenting. If you really spend some time in practicing, you can actually memorize your entire presentation. But you don't have to. Practice is very very important, since it helps you to time your presentation. Plan for not more than 25 minutes of presentation.

Q&A Guidelines for the Audience:
We, recently, started giving points for students who ask questions during the class. However, it is hard to keep track of that without repeatedly interrupting the presenters. Many students are asking meaningless questions just to get points e.g. "can you please explain that concept again?" or "why are the authors doing that?" or "what is the key idea of this paper?". Here are the guidelines that we will follow from now on:
  • 1/3rd of the presentation grade is based on discussion handled by the presenters. We encourage the presenters to ask meaningful questions, instead of asking basic questions e.g. what is Semantic Web, ontology, IR, NLP etc. Assuming that the presenter asks tough/meaningful questions, we will give points to students who answer such questions posed by the presenter. When the presenter asks a question, raise your hand. If selected, say your name and answer the questions. If you won't follow that process, you will not get any points.
  • The course staff will also prepare questions for the class. Use the same process as discussed above when answering those questions.
  • Please don't ask questions like "why are the authors doing this?". It is the responsibility of every student (not just the presenters) to read the papers assigned during each week. Ideally, you should be able to understand the key ideas and the approach(es) discussed in the paper being presented. If you read the paper yourself, and develop even a partial understanding of a given concept, we can have discussion in the class in Q&A for further clarification. Instead of saying "why are the authors doing this?", first present your own understanding of the concept, and then state where you got confused. We will let the presenter answer that first (good answer means more points for the presenter) and then the course staff can answer that.
  • If you have a question for the presenter, please note it down along with the slide number and ask it at the end of the presentation. Such questions should be meaningful i.e., i) address an issue related to the paper not discussed by the presenter, ii) add an insight based on more recent work related to the presented paper, iii) correct the presenter, if he/she incorrectly presented a key idea from the paper, iv) or correct your own understanding of a concept from the paper that you were not able to fully grasp when you read the paper yourself. These were just a few examples. We want audience to ask questions that show that they have also read or at least tried to read the assigned papers for the week.


Sample Datasets:
One factor that will affect your choice of a project topic is the availability of relevant public datasets. Here are some URLs of repositories to get you started. This list is provided as a suggestion, not as a recommendation. Please feel free to use whatever publicly available datasets you deem necessary for your project. You can also use APIs to acquire required data through online services or use existing or build your own crawlers to scrape data from different websites.


Project Specifications:
Project specifications are available on the Projects page.

Paper Selection Procedure:
The restriction of selecting a paper from Weeks 4 to 9 has been removed. Students from both Monday and Wednesday sections can now select any unassigned paper from the course outline. Students who have already selected papers between Week 4 and Week 9 cannot change their selected papers. Once all the students have been assigned a paper, we will assign the remaining papers to students who wish to present twice on first-come, first-served basis.

Class Attendance:
Please attend the class for which you are registered. You will not get credit for attending the other section's class under any circumstances. You can get an exemption from attending the lecture of your own section if you send the staff a documented proof of sickness (doctor's note) or family emergency.

Class Participation Credit:
Starting from Week 4, students asking meaningful questions from the presenters will get points for class participation.


Paper Selection Procedure:
EDIT: We are getting requests for students for paper assignments in later weeks of the semester. However, we would like to make sure that we have presenters for papers in upcoming weeks as well. For now, please request papers from Week 4 till Week 9. Also please mention the section to which you are registered either using section number or the day (Monday or Wednesday).

Since, it is not possible to immediately respond to paper selection requests, there is a chance that your requested paper may already have been requested by or assigned to another student with website yet to be updated. In order to avoid multiple back and forth emails, we request each student to send us a list of at least three papers in order of preference, so we can assign them the paper next in the list, if the first choice is not available and so on.

Group Project Team Formation:
For group project, all students in each team must belong to the same registered section.

TA Office Hours:
TA office hours have been posted on the Staff Information page.


Evaluation of Student Presentations:
The presentations by students are evaluated by Professor McLeod who will send an individual email to the student with comments and grading information. This will typically be done the evening after your presentation. The categories of evaluation are:
  • Content:
  • Presentation:
  • Discussion:
The grades used are A+, A, A/A-, A-/B+, B+/B, etc.

Introductory Lecture Slides:
Slides from today's lecture are available on the Course Outline page.