CSC 599: Senior Capstone
Spring 2013

6:00-9:00 M
207 Hitchcock
Dr. David Reed
203D Hitchcock      x2583

Text: Blown to Bits: Your Life, Liberty, and Happiness After the Digital Explosion,
           Hal Abelson, Ken Ledeen, and Hary Lewis, Addison-Wesley, 2008.
           (A digital version is freely available online, but students may choose to purchase a print copy.)

Prerequisite: Computer Science & Informatics (or related) major, Senior standing

Course Description

This project-based capstone is intended for computer science seniors. Each student will design, implement, and present a project that integrates computer science content from his or her major courses. It is expected that the project will involve building a software and/or Web-based product, such as database of resources for a non-profit organization, a mobile app for locating classrooms on campus, or an interactive, multimedia Web site for a student group. In addition, students will review seminal papers and results in computer science in a seminar-style setting.

Specific objectives:

Required Work

The class will meet weekly to discuss important papers in computer science. A collection of papers will be identified by the instructor at the beginning of the course, with input from the students. Students will take turns selecting papers from this list and leading the discussion. In addition, each student will meet individually or in small groups with the instructor to receive guidance and to report on his/her project. The project must integrate content from the computer science curriculum. For example, developing a mobile application that connects to a customer database would integrate concepts from Data Structures, Web Programming, and Databases.

Each student will complete a 10-page (minimum) project report that provides background information, design goals, and a detailed description of the project. A draft of that report must be submitted for feedback and the appropriate revisions made in the final report. In the last week of the course, students will present their projects to the class.

Students are expected to attend and participate in discussions each week. In the case of an emergency, the student should make every effort to notify the instructor of his/her absence, and meet with the instructor at earliest opportunity to discussed missed material. The final grade for the course will be based on the following weightings:

Seminar-style discussions 45%
    attendance/participation (25%)
    preparation/leadership (20%)
Capstone project 55%
    project proposal (5%)
    midway checkpoint (5%)
    report draft (15%)
    final report (20%)
    project presentation (10%)

At the minimum, traditional grading cutoffs for the final average will apply. That is, 90% is guaranteed an A, 87% is guaranteed a B+, etc. Depending on class performance, some shifting of grades (in an upward direction only) may occur as final letter grades are assigned.

It is expected that all students check their Creighton email accounts regularly. Official announcements, such as assignment revisions or class cancellations, will be distributed through Creighton email.

Policy on Collaboration

Creighton's policy on cheating and plagiarism is spelled out in the the Student Handbook, with college procedures available online at In addition, the Capstone project must be an original work of the student or team of students for this course. When the project builds upon existing ideas or code, the sources must be appropriately referenced.

Weekly Schedule (check regularly for updates)

Date Discussion Project
Jan 21 Organizational meeting (Dr. Reed)
28 Blown to Bits, Ch. 1 (Dr. Reed)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 2 (Dr. Reed)
Project team roster due
Feb 4 outside speaker Project proposal due
11 Blown to Bits, Ch. 3 (Reed)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 4 (Noles)
18 Blown to Bits, Ch. 5 (Fricke)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 6 (Oliver)
Project timeline due (by end of week)
25 Blown to Bits, Ch. 7 (Keaveny)
Blown to Bits, Ch. 8 (Dr. Reed)
Mar 4 career planning, project work  
18 A Mathematical Theory of Communication, Claude Shannon
(led by Dr. Reed)
Midway project checkpoint
25 outside speaker  
Apr 1 Quantum computing the 'Holy Grail' for University of Waterloo scientists, Ross
Quantum Entanglement, Henderson & Vedral
Spooky Quantum Entanglement Disturbed, Moskowitz
Teleportation Milestone Achieved, LiveScience Staff
Quantum Computing (youtube), dominicwalliman
(led by Reed & Noles)
8 The Mythical Man-Month, Brooks
No Silver Bullet, Brooks
Why We Should Build Software Like We Build Houses, Lamport
(led by Fricke & Oliver)
15 Why People Think Computers Can't, Minsky
Computational Thinking and CS@CMU, Wing
After Aaron Swartz: The Tech World Must Talk About Depression, Warren
Computing Machinery and Intelligence, Turing
(led by Keaveny & Dr. Reed)
Report draft due
22 No Monday class -- schedule practice sessions during the week Practice presentations
29 Presentations and review of project drafts Project presentations
May 6 Submit final project report by class time Final report due

In the event of disruption of normal classroom activities due to a flu outbreak or other emergency, the format for this course may be modified to enable completion of the course. In that event, you will be provided an addendum to this syllabus that will supersede this version.