Ecological animation, developed by former student M.Czarnek
CS 527 @ UIC
For this edition of the course, students will be expected to do some programming. If you are not familiar with graphics programming, you can take the class! Be prepared, however, to invest a bit of learning effort on your own in the first two weeks.
While the TA (if assigned to the course) is willing to answer a few programming questions, TA
hours are a valuable resource that we have to devote to teaching
visualization design, not teaching programming. If stuck on a
programming issue, it is fine to use Piazza to ask your question;
classmates who answer helpfully such questions will get bonus points
on their grade.
2:: Textbooks, Readings and Class Participation
The required textbook for this class is:
Students are expected to complete each required reading prior to the class meeting it is related to and come prepared to fully participate in class discussions involving the paper/chapter. To help incentivize participation, we require you to:
*Discussion items* can be something you found particularly interesting or noteworthy in one of the readings, a question you would like to discuss in class, a point you disagree with, or a constructive comment on someone else’s posting. All postings must be submitted before class to be counted for credit.
Posts will be graded as pass/fail and two of each will not be counted
in the final grade (and so may be skipped without a grade penalty; the
penalty skits still apply, since the readings are important for projects).
Accommodations can be made for an extended illness or other excused
absence that causes you to miss more than two of these assignments,
but please contact the instructor as early as possible in that case.
Students who skip readings (as well as students who are repeatedly late for class) are subject to a Fairness Penalty, in which they are required to prepare a short 5-minute entertaining skit for each reading they missed, for the next class meeting (i.e., reading missed on Wed, skit due next Wed; if the student can't make the next class, the skit gets rescheduled). The skit must cover a technical point from the missed reading, and be amusing (the student may sing a ballad, impersonate Oprah, tell a relevant story from their experience etc.). Skits are a lot of fun for the class, but are a lot more work than reading the chapter and posting a couple of discussion points and a summary. :-)
The class will include several oral presentations from students. These may take the form of paper presentations (20 minute), skits on an entertaining topic related to animation (5 minutes), or design presentations for final projects and/or assignments (10 minutes or more).
4:: Course Grade
The course grade will be decided based on the following factors:
5:: Homework Assignments and Final Project
There will be several assignments and in class exercises, plus a final project; most will require programming. Your working solution should be handed in on-line by 11:59 PM on the due date, or the deadline announced; the exact handin procedure will be in the assignment handout. If approached sensibly (i.e., working steadily), you will have sufficient time for each and every one assignment. Good time management will make this course much more enjoyable. The estimated workload is up to 10 hours per week, depending on your programming proficiency.
The final project is perhaps the most rewarding assignment in cs527. The submitted work must be the student's (or the group's) own work. If working in a group, each member of the team will receive the same grade; the group is responsible for making a fair division of work between its members. It is important that you keep the final project in mind throughout the entire semester. Groups that form and research ideas for topics early will have more time to realize their goals (and an easier time, too) than a group that devises their topic on the night before the project proposal is due.
6:: Absences, Late and Extra Credit Policy
If an absence is unavoidable, you are responsible for making arrangements to ensure that your assignments are turned in on time. You are also responsible for obtaining the materials passed out and the information announced during the missed class. In case of extraordinary circumstances (hospitalization, family emergency) you should contact the course staff as soon as possible so that we may arrange an extension for an assignment or schedule a make-up exam prior to the due date. Group assignments are due on time. To quote from Leilah Lyons, you can only miss a class in which you are due to present either individually or as part of a group if "you can present your own death certificate." :-) Note that some class meetings feature in-class exercises; don't skip class, or you will miss being assigned to a group and not have a solution to present the next class.
We realize that sometimes you may have schedule conflicts -- an exam on the day your assignment is due, etc. Unfortunately, we can't give extensions for academic overload, but in this course we give you three (3) free late days which you can use over the course of the semester to accommodate schedule crunches. Your late days will be optimally assigned by us at the end of the semester.Other than that, you do have the option of handing an assignment (as long as it is not a group assignment) in late -- with a penalty. If you are forced to hand an assignment in after the due date, your grade will then be subject to a penalty, depending on the lateness of your handin. A percentage of the score you received will be deducted as follows:
The above are guidelines. Consult your assignment handouts and/or the course web pages for specific deadlines for each assignment; they may be different for each assignment. And please be aware that these deadlines are strict: a handin that's ten minutes late is still late.
Remember that you have three (3) free late days which you can use over the course of the semester to accommodate schedule crunches. You do not need to ask for the staff's permission to use your free late days. Simply state how many days you are using in the body of the submission email. Your late days will be optimally assigned by us at the end of the semester.
Sometimes you may think that you have been graded unfairly. Please take this up with the TA who graded your assignment. If there is still a problem, Dr. Marai is the final word in grading and will be happy to hear what you have to say. Also, once the grades have gone out, you will only be given one week to lodge a protest. In the past, students have tried to get points back on all of their assignments in the last week of classes, and though we would like to promote fair grading, we would like to dismiss malintentioned hassling. Our first priority is fairness (both to us and to you), so please do complain about grades if you don't agree with them.
There is ample room for bells, whistles, and other credit-garnering efforts on the part of ambitious designers and programmers. You are most welcome to get creative (we love that!), as long as it does not make you late. Special Ninja skills like image processing and GPU acceleration come always handy; so if you have a few days to spare at some point, why not go ahead and impress your friends, do something really awesome for your final project.
7:: Getting Your Questions Answered
There are two ways of getting assignment-related questions answered and problems solved. You can talk to the course staff during office hours or send questions to Piazza. Assignment-related questions should be addressed to the TAs; lecture-related questions should be addressed to Dr. Marai. You may not ask the TAs questions when they are not on hours or call the TAs at home. Also, you should not e-mail the TAs with questions specific to your implementation of the assignment -- those kind of questions should be brought to a TA on hours. However, if there are no TA hours which you can attend, let the graduate TA know about this and we will try our best to accommodate you.
If you have a question that won't be of interest to the class at large, you can mail the the course staff about it directly. Please use good judgment when doing this and consider how urgent your problem is so that the course staff won't be swamped. If it's not that urgent, try Piazza first. In general, the course staff will check Piazza daily and will respond as soon as their schedule allows.
If you have administrative questions, or if you disagree with the TA's grading, discuss this first with the graduate TA. You can either show up for TA hours or email the graduate TA directly.
The staff office hour listing will be available from the course home page and TA hours will be held in general in the TA's office. When TA hours are rescheduled or exceptions are made, these will be announced on the course web page and on Piazza. Do not expect the TAs to bring up your code on screen and help you debug :-). This is left up to their discretion, and is not part of their job description.
Aside from the regular office hours, you may request additional appointments with the course staff; however, these appointments must be made at least a day in advance.
8:: Class Conduct
Professional behavior is expected from everyone. Please mute your cell phone during class. Phone rings are disruptive to lectures because they interrupt everyone's train of thought. It is apparently a UIC tradition that cellphone-rings signal pop quizzes :-\. The course laptop policy is covered during the first class meeting.
9:: Recording and Copyrights
10:: Students With Disabilities
If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and Disability Resources and Services, as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accommodations for this course.
cs527 is a continually evolving course which has been updated again this year. Most of the changes were made in response to comments from last year's students. As such we are bound to have our own `bugs' hiding in the corners. Please read everything we hand out very carefully. If there is something which you do not understand, or which is not stated very clearly, please let us know so we can fix it right away.
This applies to the material discussed in class as well. Give us constructive criticism on all aspects of the course. The more feedback there is, the better we can make this course for you as the semester progresses, and the better we can make it for the next UIC vis design students!
We just went through a lot of heavy talk. Please take all of it seriously, but also remember that we're not trying to scare you: we are here to help you! We're just clearing preliminaries and establishing the ground rules. With that done, we hope you'll have as much fun as we did in our introductory visualization classes.