22C:002:003 First year Seminar
An Algorithmic View of our Networked World
Fall 2012

1:30-2:20 T B11 MLH

Instructor: Sriram V. Pemmaraju
101G MLH, sriram-pemmaraju@uiowa.edu, 319-353-2956
Office Hours: M 11:30-1:00, W 1:00-2:30 and by appointment
Course blog: http://networkedworld.wordpress.com/
Department website: http://www.cs.uiowa.edu/

An Algorithmic View of our Networked World is a "first year seminar" that aims to introduce you to the intellectual life of the University by means of engaging a topic that is increasingly playing a central role in our lives. With rapid globalization and the widespread use of the internet, humans are becoming increasingly connected into "social networks." All sorts of human creations, ideas, innovations, fashions, fads, and even diseases are traveling rapidly through these networks and influencing how we live our lives.

In this seminar, we will discuss ways in which our world is becoming increasingly "networked" and try to understand the structure of these networks and how this structure affects all sorts of phenomena, e.g., spread of disease, spread of news via social media, traffic congestion, etc. We will then study algorithms that leverage knowledge of the underlying network structure to make applications such as Google search possible. Depending on the background of the students we will do a small amount of programming to understand and visualize network data.

There is no specific prerequisite for the course. However, basic knowledge of how to use a computer (e.g., word processing, using a spreadsheet, using a web browser) will be assumed. Ocassionally, some middle-school level mathematics will be needed to communicate an algorithmic idea and I will assume that students have a middle-school level competency in arithmetic, algebra, and geometry.

The required book for this course is Linked: How Everything is Connected to Everything Else and What it Means for Business, Science, and Everyday Life by Albert-Laszlo Barabasi (ISBN: 978-0452284395). This is not really a textbook in the traditional sense - there are no chapter-end exercises and the writing is rather informal. But it is appropriate for a first year seminar and I'll occasionally supplement the book with research articles and articles from magazines.

Occasionally I will use slides and when I do, I will post these on the course blog. I intend to use NodeXL for analyzing and visualizing network data. NodeXL is a Microsoft Excel template that you can download for free.

Tentative List of Topics
In the beginning we will follow the Barabasi book pretty closely and then branch out to topics not adequately covered in the book. Here is a (tentative) list of topics in the order in which I intend to discuss them.

  1. Random networks
  2. Six degrees of separation and the small world phenomena
  3. The "rich get richer" phenomena and the 80/20 rule
  4. Viruses and Fads
  5. Hubs, authorities, and page rank: how search engines work
  6. Is Obesity contagious? The work of Christakis and Fowler on the spread of habits
  7. Games on Networks

Grades will be based on in-class participation, homeworks, and a short writing assignment. Plus/Minus grading will be used for the course. Here are more details.

Late submissions will not be accepted and in general you will be better off turning in what you have on time rather than seeking extra time to complete your work. Excused absence forms are available at the Registrar's website. Recently, the Student Health Services changed the policy on class excuses, please read here.

Communicating with me
Asking me questions by e-mail is quite appropriate and I will try to answer any e-mails related to 22C:002 within 12 hours of e-mail receipt. You should make sure to include 22C:002 (or some reasonable variant) in the subject line to help me get to your e-mail quickly. I will occasionally send e-mail announcement to all students in the class and you are responsible for all official correspondence sent to the UI address (@uiowa.edu). Make sure that you check this e-mail account regularly. I would also prefer receiving e-mails from your uiowa account, rather than from commercial e-mail providers (e.g., gmail or yahoo!). I will try to call you by your preferred name. As a matter of professionalism, I'd prefer you call me "Prof. Pemmaraju" or "Dr. Pemmaraju".

Course Home
This course is run by the Computer Science department which is part of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. This means that class policies on matters such as requirements, grading, and sanctions for academic dishonesty are governed by the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Students wishing to add or drop this course after the official deadline must receive the approval of the Dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences. Details of the University policy of cross enrollments may be found online here.

Students with disabilities
I would like to hear from anyone who has a disability which may require seating modifications or testing accommodations or accommodations of other class requirements, so that appropriate arrangements may be made. Please contact me during my office hours.

Academic Dishonesty
Academic dishonesty will not be tolerated. Under no circumstances should you pass off someone the work of someone else as your own. This also applies to code or other material that you might find on the internet. Note that we will routinely use available software systems for detecting software plagiarism, to test any suspicions we might have. If you are unclear about what constitutes academic dishonesty contact your professor or consult the policy in the CLAS Bulletin (online version). We do want students to talk to each other about concepts and ideas that relate to the class. However, it is important to ensure that these discussions do not lead to the actual exchange of written material.

Student Complaints
If you have any complaints or concerns about the course please feel free to talk to me. You are also welcome to get in touch the the Computer Science department chair, Prof. Alberto Segre (alberto-segre@uiowa.edu, 319-335-1713, 14D McLean Hall). Consult the college policy on Student Complaints Concerning Faculty Actions (online version) for more information.

Classroom Etiquette
Showing up to class late, leaving your cell phone ringer on, etc. can be quite distracting to the instructor and fellow students. If you are in class, it is your responsibility to pay attention and to make sure that you are not doing anything that makes it harder for fellow-students to pay attention. When disruptive activity occurs, a University instructor has the authority to determine classroom seating patterns and to request that a student exit immediately for the remainder of the period. One-day suspensions are reported to appropriate departmental, collegiate, and Student Services personnel (Office of the Vice President for Student Services and Dean of Students).

University Statement on Sexual Harassment
Sexual harassment subverts the mission of the University and threatens the well-being of students, faculty, and staff. All members of the UI community have a responsibility to uphold this mission and to contribute to a safe environment that enhances learning. Incidents of sexual harassment should be reported immediately. See the UI Comprehensive Guide on Sexual Harassment for assistance, definitions, and the full University policy.

Reacting Safely to Severe Weather
In severe weather, class members should seek appropriate shelter immediately, leaving the classroom if necessary. The class will continue if possible when the event is over. For more information on Hawk Alert and the siren warning system, visit the Public Safety web site.