Special Topics in Software Engineering: Dependable Software

ECE 1724, Winter 2006
University of Toronto

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Project Format

The goal of the project is to encourage students to explore some aspect of dependability in software systems in detail. Some guidelines for choosing a project are: 1) the work should be in an area related to dependability in systems (e.g., look at the topics for each week), 2) the work should be completed in less than three months, and 3) you should talk to the instructor and get a verbal agreement about a project before committing to it.

Students have three project options: 1) implementation and evaluation of a system, 2) evaluation of an existing system, or 2) writing a position paper. For the first two options, 2-3 students should collaborate on the project. Make sure that the project is structured so that you can evaluate the system quantitatively. This option has the deliverables described below. Each of these deliverables is per-project (and not per-student). Note that each future deliverable contains much of the contents of the previous deliverables.

  1. Project Description: 1 page (Due Feb 7, 2006)

  2. Status Report: 3-4 pages (Due Feb 28, 2006)

  3. Final Report: 8-10 pages (Due Apr 11, 2006)

    Note that the final deliverable should roughly be in a format that looks like a research paper. It should have an introduction, related work, the main body of the paper, evaluation, conclusions, etc.

The second option, the position paper option, is for individuals. Students should pick an area related to the topics discussed each week. First, they should conduct detailed background research and cover as much literature as possible. This could be the result of the survey assignment. Then they should compare the approaches and discuss the benefits or drawbacks of each. Finally they should come up with their "position". Your position should be a novel statement based on solid background research and sound judgement that you articulate clearly. Your position should not be obvious from the papers or background research. In other words, the position paper option encourages research (and not just a survey of previous work). Since there is no implementation with this option, the grading will be stricter regarding the quality of the final report and the novelty of your idea.

There are three main differences in the deliverables with this option compared to the previous two options: 1) since implementation and evaluation will not exist, you don't have to include it, 2) the background research should be more thorough, and 3) the focus of the paper should be on the details of your approach which should clearly justify your position, i.e. your novel statement. Think of this option as a proposal for your research. If you are already conducting research in an area that is somewhat related to dependability in systems, this option is a great way to force yourself to put your thoughts clearly on paper. If you are not conducting research yet, it will help you get started.

At the end of the term, there will be a presentation for each project or position paper. The date for this presentation will be announced in class.