CS 190: Senior Seminar

Fall 2004


Prof. Jim Marshall, Andrew 261, 607-8650, marshall@cs.pomona.edu
Prof. Eric Aaron, Millikan 228A, 621-8712, eaaron@cs.pomona.edu

Meeting Time

Tuesdays 4:15-6:15pm in Millikan 206.

Course Description

The main purpose of the senior seminar is to give students an opportunity to build on the knowledge and skills they have acquired in their courses by reading and discussing research papers of current interest from the computer science literature. It also serves as preparation for the senior exercise in the spring, in which students undertake a semester-long project of their own design under the guidance of a faculty advisor. The senior project is intended to be a culminating experience in computer science, providing students with an opportunity to delve more deeply into a topic of particular interest and to synthesize material from their previous CS courses.

The theme of our seminar this year will be Evolutionary Computation, an exciting area of current research with broad applications and connections to many fields, including machine learning, robotics, computer graphics, computer security, biology, and physics. For most meetings of the seminar, we will read and discuss two or three papers on various aspects of evolutionary computation. In some meetings, we will talk about planning and expectations for the senior project in more detail, and you will be asked to describe your ideas for possible topics. At the end of the semester, you will present a full project proposal to the class.

This course satisfies Pomona College's requirement for a Speaking Intensive course.

Course Requirements

Attendance and participation are required. Absences, when absolutely necessary, must be arranged in advance.

Students will be responsible for presenting papers and leading the discussion each week. Each paper presentation will be 15 to 20 minutes long, followed by 20 to 30 minutes of discussion. Students who are not presenting should come prepared with a written reaction to the readings. Your reactions should not be summaries of the papers, instead they should be the product of the reading process (e.g., questions that were raised, ideas that you found particularly interesting, points that were not clear, connections to previous material you've read, and so on), and should include at least three questions for discussion. You are expected to be an active participant and should come prepared for class every week.

Students will be encouraged to collaborate in teams of two on some of the paper presentations, but will be responsible for presenting at least one paper on their own. In addition, at the end of the semester each student will present their final project proposal to the class. By early November you should have an idea for a topic, an advisor, and some possible resources. The full proposals will be due on December 8, the last day of class.


Grades will be based on the quality of presentations (50%), participation and attendance (30%), and the project proposal (20%).

Reading List


Date Topic Presenters
September 1 Introduction Faculty
September 7 1. Holland (1992)
2. Mitchell (1996)
3. Mitchell and Forrest (1995)
September 14 5. Sims (1994)
6. Hornby and Pollack (2001)
An online introduction to Lindenmayer systems
Justin and Andrew
September 21 7. Heiss-Czedik and Fontana (unpublished)
8. Reynolds (1994)
Cole and Sean
September 28 4. Nolfi and Floreano (2000) (for background on neural nets)
9. Ackley and Littman (1991)
12. Dellaert and Beer (1994)
John and James
October 5 10. Nolfi and Floreano (1999)
11. Ray (1991)
Cole and Andrew
October 12 Senior project preliminary discussion
13. Forrest and Hofmeyr (2000)
John and Justin
October 19 Fall Break (no meeting)
October 26 14. Langton (1990)
20. Harvey, Husbands, and Cliff (1993)
19. Meeden and Kumar (1998) (for background on evolutionary robotics)
James and Sean
November 2 16. Rosin and Belew (1995)
21. Floreano, Nolfi, and Mondada (1998)
Sean and James
November 9 15. Mitchell, Hraber, and Crutchfield (1993)
Discussion of project ideas
John and Justin
November 16 22. Pollack, Lipson, Hornby, and Funes (2001)
Discussion of project ideas (cont'd)
Andrew and Cole
November 23 Thanksgiving Break (no meeting)
November 30 18. Pagie and Mitchell (2002)
24. Watson, Ficici, and Pollack (2002)
Jim (#18), Sean and Andrew (#24)
December 7 Proposal presentations Everyone