CS 6030 -- Technical Communications in Computer Science

2 credits
Spring, 2014:  Monday, Wednesday, 4:35pm-5:25pm, MEB 3147
not currently offered

Instructor:   William B. Thompson, MEB 3446

Office hours: by arrangement

TA:   Cory Robinson, WEB 1813

Office hours: M, 8:00am-11:am; W, 8:00am-11:am

Basic writing and oral presentation skills for technical communications in computer science.  Emphasis is placed  both on the mechanisms of writing and presentations and on developing and presenting clear and compelling ideas. Substantial writing and class presentations are required of all participants. This is an important class for building skills needed for writing a high quality thesis or dissertation and for a successful research career.

Goals of the course:
  • Develop writing skills at the word, sentence, paragraph, and document levels.
  • Develop oral presentation skills.
  • Gain experience in articulating information of the sort common in computer science publications, presentations, and proposals.
  • Evaluate computer science publications for clarity, credibility, and effectiveness.

Required work: Writing assignments and class presentations (nearly) every week.

Writing assignments are summaried in the class schedule. A complete description of each assignment is given on the class Canvas page, which should also be used for turning in the assignment.

The course will be taught with instructional assistance from the College of Engineering CLEAR program.

Who should take the course (and when):  The class is intended for research-oriented graduate students.  It will be most appropriate for first and second year students who have some experience with reading the computer science research literature, though students later along in their graduate studies might benefit as well.

The College of Engineering (CoE) also offers a college-wide course on Technical Writing & Communications for Graduate Students, given in the fall. CS students should register for this class as CS 6960-001. Compared with the CoE course, CS 6030 is a smaller enrollment class with substantial computer science specific content, somewhat greater emphasis on oral presentations, and more frequent in-class feedback, while CS 6960-001 is CoE-wide and has a course-long project focus. SoC graduate students would be well served by taking both classes.

Schedule for spring, 2014Subject to change!

College of Engineering academic guidelines

Useful references.  You should buy at least one of these.  Unless you are an excellent writer (you probably aren't), you should consider buying most/all of them!

  • Michael Alley, The Craft of Scientific Writing, third edition, Springer-Verlag, 1996. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • Claire Kehrwald Cook, Line by Line: How to Edit Your Own Writing, Houghton Mifflin, 1985. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • Lyn Dupré, BUGS in Writing: A Guide to Debugging Your Prose (2nd Edition), Addison-Wesley, 1998. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • Angelika H. Hofmann, Scientific Writing and Communication: Papers, Proposals, and Presentations, Oxford University Press, 2009. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • William Strunk and E.B. White, The Elements of Style (4th Edition), Longman, 1999. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • Joseph M. Williams and Gregory G. Colomb, Style: Lessons in Clarity and Grace (10th edition), Longman, 2010. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • Justin Zobel, Writing for Computer Science (2nd edition), Springer, 2004. [Amazon] [B&N]
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (16th edition), University Of Chicago Press, 2010. [Amazon] [B&N]

You cannot write a coherently unless you can write a coherent paragraph!

Useful links:

As an alternative to this course, you might consider saving time, effort, and the need to think by simply buying any technical paperdissertation, or proposal you need.