CS 800: Computer Science Colloquium

George Mason University

Department of Computer Science

CS 800: Computer Science Colloquium

Fall 2014

Prof. Ami Motro


This course introduces PhD students to research topics in computer science. Students are required to attend colloquia --- including talks by distinguished guest speakers, faculty candidates, and Mason faculty --- and submit written reports. This course provides no credit, but all PhD students are required to enroll in this course for two semesters.


Admission to CS PhD program.


Welcome to a new semester of exciting research seminars! Please read these instructions carefully, to avoid unnecessary confusion and to ensure that you will get a passing grade at the end of the semester.
  1. Meeting. This class is listed as meeting on on Friday 1:30-2:20 in ART 2003. However, this is only a GMU formality. This class will not have meetings.
  2. CS 800 is a required course. The Computer Science Department considers attending research seminars an important part of your doctoral studies, and it thus requires every PhD student to attend research seminars, by enrolling in its colloquium course, CS 800, for two semesters. Note: As of Fall 2012, this course is zero (0) credit hours.

  3. Required number of seminars. This course requires that you attend a 1 hour seminar each week. The seminars are in a wide range of subjects, and are usually offered in the middle of the day (the starting hour is usually between 11:00 am and 1:00 pm). The frequency is not regular: in some weeks there may be 2 or even 3 offerings, whereas in other weeks there may be no seminars at all. But overall, there should be sufficient offerings to meet the minimum requirement. Making allowances for two occasions in which a student will not be able to attend for personal reasons, I have set the number of required seminars for Fall 2014 at twelve (12).

  4. Eligible seminars. This is a computer science course, and only computer science seminars are eligible. Seminars offered by other departments generally are not acceptable, and exceptions should be authorized in advance (send me email). In general, the eligible seminars will be given by accomplished researchers and seminars given by graduate students are usually not eligible (PhD defenses are eligible).

  5. Procedure. You should print the attendance form linked below. During the course of the semester you will receive from me periodic notifications of upcoming seminars. Each notice will include the name of a faculty member who is hosting the seminar. If you choose to attend, you should present the attendance form at the end of the seminar to this faculty member for a signature. At the end of the semester, I will collect the attendance sheets.

  6. Reports. At the end of the semester, in addition to the attendance sheet, each student must submit brief reports on four (4) of the seminars attended. Each report should be between 300 and 500 words. It should summarize the subject of the seminar in no more than 100 words. The rest should be personal review: What were the strong and/or weak points of the research and the presentation; how in your opinion it could be applied; how it could be expanded; etc. Reports must be typed and written in a professional style.

  7. Start early. Because of the irregular frequency of seminar offerings, you are strongly encouraged to start attending seminars as early as possible, so that you will not find yourself in shortage of seminars at the end of the semester!

  8. Web calendar. The CS web site maintains a Calendar of events and seminars, which may be consulted for upcoming events.

  9. Web site. In this page you will find additional announcements, the attendance form, and a list of all the seminars that have been approved so far.

  10. email. I will be sending my messages to the GMU address that you were assigned. It is your responsibility to check this mailbox periodically, and to ensure that mail is not rejected due to exceeded quotas.

You should use this colloquia series to help you choose a research area, or to expand your knowledge in your chosen research area, or simply to keep in touch with recent developments in computer science. You might also learn good presentation techniques. Don't be discouraged if you are not able to understand every detail of a presentation; even experienced researchers are sometimes "lost" in a difficult and unfamiliar subject. Yet, undoubtedly your research experience will be enriched.


  1. Attendance form
  2. Here is the list of current seminars for Fall 2014.

  3. For the curious, here is an archive of seminar lists from previous semesters.

Last updated Wednesday, 3 September 2014, 4:00 pm