About this course

CS190 is a required course for seniors in the CS majors.

Instructor and TAs

This course is taught by me—Michael Greenberg.

Day Time Location
Prof. Michael Greenberg Wednesday 1–3pm Edmunds 225

I’m available at other times by appointment—send me an email.


You must (a) be a senior in the CS major, and (b) have taken three CS courses numbered 81 or higher. If (a) adheres but (b) does not, we have a problem—talk to me immediately.


The senior exercise has four parts: attending all Pomona Colloquia, reading the papers in CS 190, presenting in small groups in CS 190, and writing a survey paper.


You must attend all Pomona Colloquia. If you must miss a colloquium, notify us in advance and you can make it up by attending an HMC colloquium.

The seminar itself

The bulk of the work in CS 190 will be in the seminar class itself, where we will read and discuss papers.


The course home page has a listing of our readings. I expect you to finish assigned readings before class. Listings far in the future (>1 week) are tentative.

Even if you are not presenting, I expect you to read the paper in detail. Every week, you will be required to submit at least one question that you’d like the presenters to answer; your questions are due two days before we meet: that is, questions are due on Sunday for the Tuesday section (01) and on Tuesday for the Thursday class (02).


CS190 is designated as “speaking intensive” course, fulfilling one of the new curriculum requirements.

Each student in CS190 will have to help present two papers. Presentations will be in small groups, of two to three. Your presentation will last between 20 and 30 minutes, to be followed by group discussion. Presentations need not have slides—you can use the board—but I expect you to clearly explicate the material.

You may well need to read more than just the paper you’re presenting. It’s prudent to start early.

When it is your turn to present, you must meet with me to discuss your presentation—not less than a week before your presentation. Failing to meet with me is the surest way to guarantee a low grade.


In addition to presentations, I expect students to read the papers, attend class, and participate in discussions. I don’t expect every student to speak up in every class, but that I do expect everyone to participate at some time. Keep in mind that asking questions is at least as important as answering them. If speaking up is going to be difficult for you, talk to me.

Of course, one discusses “with”, not “at”: I also expect all students to listen carefully to each other. We’ll discuss the papers, not debate them.


When you are not presenting a paper, you must email me and the presenters a question about the content of the paper. These questions are due 36 hours before class, i.e., 11pm on Sunday for the Tuesday class and 11pm on Tuesday for the Thursday class.

Survey papers

Each student will need to write a survey paper. We’ll read some examples of the genre in class, but the general idea is to summarize several papers in a document that serves as a “guide”. You’ll be allowed to choose your own starting point, which may or may not be one of the papers we read in class.

We’ve broken out writing the survey paper into six tasks: a LaTeX exercise, finding the initial set of papers, writing up an annotated bibliography, writing an outline and a section of the survey, writing a first draft of the survey, and the final survey.

You’ll submit all of your work via the new submission system.


Attendance is required. Two absences, with advance notice, are allowed. Each subsequent absence will result in a one grade point (on a 12 point scale) deduction from your final grade.

  • 40% Research paper presentations (20% each!)
  • 25% Class participation
    • 15% Discussion
    • 10% Questions
  • 35% Survey paper:
    • 5% LaTeX exercise
    • 5% Initial papers
    • 5% Annotated bibliography
    • 5% Draft
    • 15% Final paper


CS190 is meant to familiarize you with research in computer science, a young but broad field. We’ll be reading real papers, and I encourage you to look to other sources for help: often the best way to understand a paper is to read related papers. Please: search online for help understanding the readings of this course!

However: all work in the course must be your own. As explained in the student handbook, this means that the work you turn in must represent only your own work.

How can we reconcile these two conflicting ideas? The answer is citation. You may get help from any source, but you must say where. Did a conversation with someone particularly illuminate things for you? Make that clear. Want to just include a quote from another paper wholesale? Fine, but cite it.

Failure to abide by these rules is considered plagiarism, and will result in severe penalties. The first offense typically results in failing the assignment and referral to the appropriate college office or committee—which may mean further consequences. See the CS Academic Honesty Policy and Pomona Academic Standards. for further information. Please don’t put anyone—me, you, or anyone else—in this unpleasant situation.


Pomona students seeking academic accommodations should contact Jan Collins-Eaglin in the Dean of Students Office. You’ll need to meet with Jan to discuss appropriate accommodations and provide documentation as necessary. If you want accommodations on exams or homework, it is your responsibility to inform me in advance.

Students from other colleges should contact their home college’s disability coordinator for accommodations. The coordinators are:

We’re in this together

This is my first time teaching this course. Let’s make a deal. My side: if things aren’t working, I’ll change them. Your side: if things aren’t working, you’ll tell me.