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CSEP 590A: Distributed Systems
Grading FAQ

Grading Questions


What kind of grade can I expect in this course?

Tom reports that he's taught PMP classes several times and has never given a PMP student below a 3.0 to anyone who made a good faith effort to do the required work. In the descriptions below, an 85% is likely to be a 3.3; a 100% is likely to be a 4.0. The class is not graded on a curve.

How many blog entries do I need to do?

You need to do a blog entry for at least 8 of the 10 weeks of the course.

How are the blog entries graded?

Blog entries are marked using a zero, check, check+ scale. These scores are translated into a grade as follows. Completing at least 8 blog entries (i.e., earning at least a check mark) will earn you at 88% of the possible points (11 pts per entry). For each check+ entry, you will earn an additional 2pts. Thus, it is possible to score a total grade of 108% on the blog portion of your course grade.

What makes a blog entry worth a zero? a check? a check+?

As long as a person something that has some detail in relation to the paper, that's worth a check. A post that says simply, "I was confused" and doesn't elucidate anything more will be given a zero. Check+'s are given to people who do more than just post a summary of the paper and contribute to the discussion. This can include raising a question or answering a previous poster's question. Relating the paper to a current or past project will also merit a check+. Posting links to other papers, powerpoint slides, etc. also earn the bonus.

What should I include in my writeups for the programming assignments?

Your writeups should include a description of how you implemented the assignment. This should include any assumptions you made, what difficulties you had, the network architecture you used, etc. You should also describe how you tested your code, including outputs and/or screen shots of your code working.

How do the difficulty ratings of programming assignments work? What will happen if I do two easy assignments? Two mediums? An easy, a medium, and a hard?

The assignments are weighted as follows: 0.9 (easy), 1.1 (medium) 1.3 (hard). Thus, if you score 50/50 on an assignment, the actual score is multiplied by this weight. If the assignment was easy, it would actually be a 45/50, while a medium difficulty would earn 55/50, and a hard, 65/50. Doing well on a hard assignment can make up for points lost on other assignments.

The formula for determining how many of the total possible points you can earn for the programming assignment is:

(0.9E + 1.1M + 1.3H) ÷ (E + M + H)

where E is the number of easy problems, M is the number of medium problems, and H is the number of hard problems. Thus, two easy assigments will earn 90% of the possible points. Two mediums will earn 110% of the possible. An easy, a medium, and a hard will earn 110% of the possible.

Can I do more assignments than I'm required?

You can, but keep in mind that weighted points can act strangely. If you do one medium and one easy assignment, then you can earn 100% of the total possible programming points. Doing 2 easy assignments and one medium can only earn 96% of the possible programming points.

On the first day of class, Tom presented many different areas for possible improvement of DNS. Are we supposed to talk about all of them or can we choose only a couple? Do the ones we choose have to work together or can we talk about them in isolation?

The goal of the essay is to suggest a new model for DNS. You should describe your new DNS system and your reasons for the changes. Thus, you can choose to use some the ideas Tom suggestion, but you don't have to use all of them. You can also argue why you rejected some of the ideas, if you so choose.