15-849 Project Logistics

One of the major goals of this class is to understand how networking research is done. To this end, the term project is a major component of 15-849, since that's where you draw upon your knowledge and experience from the course readings and elsewhere to actually do research. This document is intended to ease the process of figuring out what to work on and writing a short proposal explaining what you want to work on. A separate document handed out in class describes some project suggestions we came up with.

Please feel free to come up with your own ideas, or modify our suggestions in any way you want. Our suggestions are simply that; and they're usually incomplete. They are usually not complete specifications of projects. Please send all questions about the project to the instructor. As we noted earlier, you're both welcome and invited to merge your personal and professional interests into the projects, as long as they remain appropriate for the course.

Project Teams

As far as possible, you should work in teams of two or three. Working with others is a lot more fun, is often a lot more productive, and the resulting work a lot sounder than if you were working in isolation. The nature of the networking field is one that fosters collaboration and often makes it essential for high impact work, and you should develop the ability to collaborate on projects. You need to work at least with one other person from the class, so please start looking out for team mates as soon as possible! We'll have a bboard set up for the course soon for you to use to find project partners.

Project Proposal

One- to two-page proposals (details below) are due in early October. We will read the proposals carefully over the following few days and get back to you by email if we have any questions. In some cases, we may want to meet with teams to understand better exactly what you're doing, perhaps because it isn't focused enough or because you're trying to accomplish too much. Please don't wait for us to get back to you; get started as soon as possible! You have about two months to carry out the project, which is ample if your proposal is focused and you start early, but not otherwise.

It is important that you read relevant background material before turning in the proposal!

Your project proposal should be a crisp one-page write-up that contains the following items.

Please hand in five copies of your project proposal. The other three copies will be used in the peer review process.

Project proposal peer review

Welcome to the 15-849 program committee. Each person in the class will be responsible for reading two other groups' project proposals, and providing an evaluation and feedback. Please address the following issues in your review:

Each proposal will receive four peer reviews and one review by the program chair (i.e., the instructor). Remember to keep the tone of your reviews constructive. Please write a review that you would like to receive. When reviewing papers, you are a representitive of the community (and the class! :). It is always possible to phrase your feedback in a way that helps the authors improve their paper. If you have questions about your review, feel free to ask dga about it before you finish it.

Project Progress Reviews

During the middle of the project, each team will need to present an 8-minute project status report to the class. The report should briefly cover both the project's goal, and how things are going along (what's done, what's promising, what hasn't worked, what's left to do). This will be an opportunity for (a) making sure that things are making progress, and (b) having a chance to get feedback before the last week of the project.

Project Writeup

The project writeup should be a standard, two-column research paper. While the format of these papers can and should be flexible, please be sure to include at least an intro, related work section, and conclusion. The length for the paper is flexible -- use as many pages as you need to cleanly express the work you've done for your project, but please do not exceed 12 pages in 10 point font, double column.


In a one-semester class, one can only cover a fraction of networking topics, and there are sure to be projects where the background material won't be covered in too much detail. And even for topics that we do cover, there will almost certainly be other relevant related work that you should be familiar with. Part of doing something new is figuring out what's already been done or is known, so you should search the related literature and Web pages as extensively as you can. Keep an eye out for useful software or research methodology or tools that you can leverage; this will save you tremendous amounts of time later in the term.


Aim high in a focused way, and do the best you can! The best projects are sure to be publishable in top ACM or IEEE conferences in the area, such as SIGCOMM, INFOCOM, or MOBICOM, or appear as articles in journals like SIGCOMM's Computer Communications Review (CCR). I have a strong feeling that you will far surpass my already high expectations with wonderful work that will further the state of the art in network research.