CS 677 Big Data

Course Syllabus – Big Data

CS 677-01 ⋅ Fall 2019 ⋅ 4 Credits

The Basics

Lecture: Tuesday & Thursday ⋅ 4:35 – 6:20pm ⋅ LS 307
Communication: PiazzaZoom Live Stream

Course Staff

Instructor: Matthew Malensek
Office: HR 406
Hours: T 2:30 – 4:00pm ⋅ Th 10:00 – 11:30am ⋅ F 2:00 – 3:00pm


Programming experience, preferably in Java or Python.

Required Texts/Materials

There is no textbook for this course. Instead, we will read and discuss research papers.

Nevertheless, here are some good resources:

Course Overview

This course examines the algorithmic and systems challenges associated with big data. Topics include storage frameworks (key-value, in-memory, wide-column), scalable computing paradigms (MapReduce, Spark, stream processing), and analysis techniques (sentiment analysis, predictive modeling).

Learning Outcomes

After completing the course, students will be able to:

These outcomes will be assessed via programming assignments, scientific paper reviews, and quizzes.


The course will be graded on a A-F basis. The grade distribution is:

Grades will be assigned as follows:

Score RangeGrade
100 – 93.0A
92.9 – 90.0A-
89.9 – 87.0B+
86.9 – 83.0B
82.9 – 80.0B-
79.9 – 77.0C+
76.9 – 73.0C
72.9 – 70.0C-
69.9 – 67.0D+
66.9 – 63.0D
62.9 – 60.0D-
59.9 – 0F

This scale is subject to change; scoring in the ranges above guarantees you will receive at least the grade listed.

Projects: The best way to learn is by putting theory into practice. This course features large projects that count for the majority of your grade. Remember to start early, ask questions, and go to office hours if necessary.

Scientific Research Papers: we will read several research papers throughout the semester. These assignments involve reading the paper and producing a written report outlining your analysis of the work, along with in-class discussion.

Quizzes: Your knowledge of the concepts covered in class will be evaluated via quizzes. These quizzes consist of two phases: individual and team, with a separate score for each. During the team phase of the quiz, you can discuss the questions with your teammates and come to a consensus on the answers. The individual and team portions of the quiz are turned in separately.

In-Class Discussion/Labs: beyond the research paper group discussions, we will also have small lab assignments or discussions in class to help reinforce content from the lecture.

Grading Policy:

Late Policy:

Classroom Conduct

You are here to learn. Be professional and courteous toward your peers, and help create a learning environment that supports diverse thinking, experiences, perspectives, and identities. If you need to use an electronic device during a lecture, do so in a way that doesn’t distract others. And most importantly, be excellent to each other.

Important Dates

Academic Integrity

As a Jesuit institution committed to cura personalis — the care and education of the whole person — USF has an obligation to embody and foster the values of honesty and integrity. USF upholds the standards of honesty and integrity from all members of the academic community. All students are expected to know and adhere to the University’s Honor Code. You can find the full text of the code online at http://myusf.usfca.edu/academic-integrity/. The policy covers:

Students with Disabilities

If you are a student with a disability or disabling condition, or if you think you may have a disability, please contact USF Student Disability Services (SDS) at 415 422-2613 within the first week of class, or immediately upon onset of disability, to speak with a disability specialist. 

If you are determined eligible for reasonable accommodations, please meet with your disability specialist so they can arrange to have your accommodation letter sent to me, and we will discuss your needs for this course.  For more information, please visit: http://www.usfca.edu/sds or call (415) 422-2613.

Behavioral Expectations

All students are expected to behave in accordance with the Student Conduct Code and other University policies (see http://www.usfca.edu/fogcutter/). Open discussion and disagreement is encouraged when done respectfully and in the spirit of academic discourse. There are also a variety of behaviors that, while not against a specific University policy, may create disruption in this course. Students whose behavior is disruptive or who fail to comply with the instructor may be dismissed from the class for the remainder of the class period and may need to meet with the instructor or Dean prior to returning to the next class period. If necessary, referrals may also be made to the Student Conduct process for violations of the Student Conduct Code. 

Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers

The Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers at USF provide individualized support to assist you in better understanding course material and to aid you on your path to success. Services are free and include one-on-one tutoring, group tutoring, and one-on-one Academic Skills Coaching appointments to discuss effective study strategies. The Learning Center supports over 80 courses each semester. The Writing Center helps students develop their writing skills in rhetoric, organization, style, and structure, through one-on-one interactive conferences. The Speaking Center helps students prepare for public speaking - including speeches, oral presentations, team presentations, and visual aid demonstrations. International students may also contact us to learn more about communicating with professors and general academic study skills. The Learning, Writing, and Speaking Centers are located on the Lower Level of Gleeson Library (G03). Please contact them at (415) 422-6713 for further assistance or visit: https://myusf.usfca.edu/lwsc to make an appointment.

Counseling and Psychological Services

Our diverse staff offers brief individual, couple, and group counseling to student members of our community. CAPS services are confidential and free of charge. Call 415-422-6352 for an initial consultation appointment. Having a crisis at 3 AM? We are still here for you. Telephone consultation through CAPS After Hours is available between the hours of 5:00 PM to 8:30 AM; call the above number and press 2.

Confidentiality, Mandatory Reporting, and Sexual Assault

As an instructor, one of my responsibilities is to help create a safe learning environment on our campus. I also have a mandatory reporting responsibility related to my role as a faculty member. I am required to share information regarding sexual misconduct or information about a crime that may have occurred on USFs campus with the University. Here are other resources:

Student Accounts – Last day to withdraw with tuition reversal

Students who wish to have the tuition charges reversed on their student account should withdraw from the course(s) by the end of the business day on the last day to withdraw with tuition credit (census date) for the applicable course(s) in which the student is enrolled. Please note that the last day to withdraw with tuition credit may vary by course. The last day to withdraw with tuition credit (census date) listed in the Academic Calendar is applicable only to courses which meet for the standard 15-week semester. To find what the last day to withdraw with tuition credit is for a specific course, please visit the Online Class Schedule at www.usfca.edu/schedules.