Carnegie Mellon University
Last update: 19 Aug 2010
This page is here to help you understand the details of how this course runs. Please read the whole thing at the start of the semester. A few of these policies are likely to be different than what you are used to.
18-849 Dependable Embedded Systems
Fall: 12 Units
Instructor: Philip Koopman
The area of dependable embedded systems encompasses an increasingly larger and more important fraction of "intelligent" products made worldwide. For the purposes of this course, "dependable" systems include those that are safe, fault tolerant, robust, secure, timely, maintainable, and designed correctly. In addition, dependable embedded systems are usually created with small teams using lightweight design processes under extreme cost constraints. The focus of the course will be understanding the challenges of creating a truly dependable, yet affordable, embedded system. The areas covered will include software safety, software fault tolerance, safety critical networking, graceful degradation, system architecture approaches, ultra-dependable system assessment, "embedded Internet" issues, regulatory/societal issues, and best known practices. Students will gain familiarity with the core literature in this area as well as explore important areas in which literature is sparse or nonexistent.
Students will be expected to read journal and conference papers for each class meeting. Grading will be based in large part on student ability to demonstrate understanding of the reading and relate ideas to problem areas discussed in class. Each student will make in-class presentations of varying lengths. Students must be prepared to speak about required reading at each class meeting.
This class is primarily intended to serve PhD students and MS students who plan to continue on to PhD studies here or elsewhere.
Prerequisites: 18-649 or 18-749. Graduate student standing required. IMB seniors can enter with an "A" in a pre-req course. Entrance exam required for graduate students who have not already received an "A" or "B" in a pre-req.
Send all course-related e-mail to so we can respond quickly. If you send it anywhere else your reply will probably be delayed.
Note that all HOMEWORK MUST be sent to . Note the "+hw" that we are going to use for e-mail filtering. If you leave it out, your homework is not considered to be handed in. We might also attempt a web-based homework submission process, but e-mail is the default.
Office Hours: immediately after class
and by appointment
Attendance and special needs:
HOMEWORKS ARE DUE at 8 PM the evening before class.
Grading will be perfomed on a "straight scale", out of 100 points:
Each lecture will be worth 3.75% of the grade (i.e., 3.75 points). (The first meeting will be worth 1 point; and an anticipated movie lecture will be worth 1.5 points, totaling 100 points). Points may be adjusted at the instructor's discretion to accommodate cancelled classes, emergent circumstances, or patterns of students attempting to abuse course policies. Points will be awarded as follows:
Satisfactory participation means that, you are actually in class AND if you are called upon, you can explain the contents of your homework assignment and the underlying reasoning to the rest of the class. (Your reasons don't have to be "right" -- you just have to be able to explain them.) Unsatisfactory participation means that you weren't able to demonstrate an understanding of your own homework, didn't have a clue about an assigned reading paper (i.e., did not actually read the paper), or were absent regardless of reason. In general, students are awarded full credit per the scores above so long as their completion or participation is within reasonable expectations (perfection is not expected for full credit). Students who arrive more than 5 minutes after start of class are late, and will have points deducted.
The above should make it clear that we want you to actually read the papers. There should be no reason that any student qualified to take the course gets less than an "A" in this class unless they slack off and either skip class or fail to actually read the papers. Life brings unexpected situations -- we very strongly urge you NOT to cut things close by skipping classes or failing to turn in homeworks on purpose just because you can do that and still theoretically get an "A." Reserve missed assignments/class meetings for true emergencies only. If you slack off, don't bother trying to explain to us that you cut class because you weren't planning on an emergency coming up. Just come to all the classes preparedand actually read all the papers and you should be fine.
There are no tests, and no final exam. There is no course project. Just read the papers and participate in class.
No student may record or tape any classroom, lab, office hour, or other similar course-related activity without the express written consent of the course instructor, Prof. Koopman. If a student believes that he/she is disabled and needs to record or tape classroom activities, he/she should contact the Office of Disability Resources to request an appropriate accommodation.
Students may NOT use laptops, cell phones, or any other electronic devices in class unless specifically permitted by the course instructor (which is unlikely to happen except for special situations). No student may reproduce, distribute, post, or upload course materials except for their own personal use.
All assignments must be submitted in plain ASCII text via e-mail or using a web form if we make one available. NO ATTACHMENTS! NO HTML!-- paste the ascii text in to the body of your e-mail. Brevity in answers is important. If your answer is reasonable or otherwise indicates that you actually read the papers it will get full credit. The primary purpose of the homework is to measure whether you actually read the paper. (Unfortunately due to the size of the course it is impossible to talk to each student one-on-one about each paper, so the homework ensures that everyone gets a say even if indirectly.)
Late homeworks will not be accepted. Period. End of discussion. We will make the reading assignments available well in advance. If you have a trip or something, get the homework done early (i.e., actually read the papers before the last minute). There is no point handing in homeworks late, because doing so means you didn't read the papers before class and therefore weren't equipped to learn from the in-class discussion. Parroting back what you heard in class by handing something in late doesn't prove anything, so don't bother.
Students in the past have somehow thought that, despite the fact you can miss several classes and assignments and still get an "A", somehow absences due to project deadlines in other courses and other predictable and avoidable conflicts should be entitled to additional forgiveness. Those students obviously weren't paying attention. Set aside time every week for this class. You have to promise to actually give us that time you have set aside. We promise not to create a crisis that kills your schedule. That's a better deal than you'll get in most other courses.
We fully expect that this course will take about 12 hours per week for native English speakers and non-native speakers with good language proficiency. However, non-native speakers may take a considerably longer while they increase their reading speeds. Many students will find the time load significantly higher for the first 2-3 weeks while they acclimate to doing this type and amount of reading.
The University Policy on Cheating and Plagiarism applies, as modified by the below points.
You should complete the homework and hand it in entirely on your own. Do not discuss the assignments, refer to third party interpretations, look at materials from previous years or otherwise obtain (actively or passively) any external input on the papers before you hand in your homework. This course is teaching you how to read and think for yourself. After you hand in your homework via e-mail, you are welcome and encouraged to discuss papers with others (assuming they have also handed in their homework). Reference to previous-year class material or discussion with previous-year students before submitting homework, except as posted by the instructor for your reference, is specifically forbidden.
Please note that your homework is graded on whether you got something intelligible out of the reading and not on whether your answers are objectively "right". Thus, even if you misunderstood or were confused by some point in the paper you won't lose homework grading points as long as your answers indicate you actually read the papers and made a good faith effort to apply the principles we teach in class. The expected penalty for any instance of cheating, plagiarism, or other similar offense is a zero in the entire course (i.e., an "R" grade). We will use automatic analysis tools to detect cheating if we suspect there are intellectual integrity violations occurring.
By the way, did we mention that we expect you to actually read the papers and actually participate in class?
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