CS 591 PhD Seminar, Fall 2023


Registration for this seminar is required for all Ph.D. students newly admitted into the Computer Science Department. Ph.D. students must earn a Satisfactory ("S") grade for the seminar or they will be required to re-take the seminar in the following Fall. Please note that a Satisfactory grade in this seminar is required before students are allowed to schedule the qualifying exam. If a Ph.D. student receives an Unsatisfactory ("U") in this seminar, they will be required to petition for an extension to sign up for their qualifying exam. Don't get a "U"!

M.S. students who are considering to apply to our Ph.D. program may also register for the seminar. However, if accepted into the Ph.D. program, they will need to re-take the seminar in their first year in the Ph.D. program. 

All assignments must be satisfactorily completed to receive an "S" grade.

Learning Goals

The goals of the seminar include teaching incoming Ph.D. students about:

Course Credit

1 credit

Time and location

Mondays, 11:00 - 11:50am, 1320 DCL


Robin Kravets (rhk@illinois.edu)
Nancy Amato (namato@illinois.edu)
Darko Marinov (marinov@illinois.edu)
Svetlana Lazebnik (slazebni@illinois.edu)
Viveka Kudaligama (kudaliga@illinois.edu)


Class announcements and discussions will be held via slack. You will be invited to the class slack space. Once you join, please make sure your name is set up correctly. Feel free to use nicknames if that is how you want to be addressed.


Attendance is required and recorded electronically. Arriving more than 5 minutes late to the seminar will be counted as an unexcused absence. Students who receive more than one unexcused absence will receive an Unsatisfactory ("U") grade and will need to re-take the seminar.

Students are allowed one excused absence. Excused absences include University-related travel (e.g. to attend an academic conference) and personal illness. Job interviews do not qualify as an excused absence so please schedule them around class time. To seek an excused absence, please email rhk@illinois.edu (and copy kudaliga@illinois.edu) before the start of class or as soon as possible. Students with extenuating circumstances should contact kudaliga@illinois.edu and jcom@illinois.edu as soon as possible.


You must participate in class discussion. We want discussions to be casual and enjoyable so that each of you feel comfortable offering comments and speaking candidly. We will do our best to moderate the discussion and keep it moving forward. We expect you to be attentive during lecture.

Quizzes and Other Requirements

There will be 2 required surveys and 3 required quizzes based on the content in the seminar. Students are also required to introduce themselves on the class slack channel.

Program of Study

Sumbission of the the Program of Study form is required for satisfactory completion of this seminar. 

Responsible conduct in Research

As researchers in the Department of Computer Science, you are expected to follow responsible research conduct guidelines. The department offers a specialized seminar for all graduate students in the fall (date TBA). While the information provided in the lecture on Responsible conduct in Research in this seminar touches on many of these topics, you are atill required to attend the Department RCR Ethics Training.


You are not allowed to use extra computing devices during class for any purpose. Please focus on our seminar. A first violation of this policy will result in a warning. A second violation of this policy will result in an Unsatisfactory ('U") grade for the seminar.

Disability Accommodations

To obtain disability-related academic adjustments or auxillary aids, students with disabilities must contact the course instructor and the Disability Resources and Educational Services (DRES) as soon as possible. To contact DRES you may visit 1207 S. Oak St., Champaign, call 333-1970, or send an e-mail message to disability@illinois.edu. They are glad to assist and so are we.

Online Resources

My.cs.illinois.edu portal: course rosters, assistantships, progress evaluations

Graduate College: fellowships, assistantships, professional development, diversity

Graduate College Handbook: rights and responsibilities as a graduate student

Grainger College Graduate Program

University Student Code








Aug 21

Introduction: Earning a PhD

Darko Marinov (DGS) / Svetlana Lazebnik

(ADGS) / Viveka Kudaligama/

Jen Comstock (Grad Advisor)/

Nancy Amato (Dept. Head)/ Robin Kravets (Prior DGS)

Complete survey by Aug 24, 11:59 PM CT

Aug 28

PhD requirements, milestones, and strategies (includes Program of Program of Study forms and strategies for engaging with your faculty committee)

Robin Kravets/ Viveka Kudaligama

Complete Slack introduction by Aug 29, 11:59 PM CT

Sept 4

LABOR DAY - No Class Meeting

No Class Meeting


Sept 11

Area Talks:

Artificial Intelligence

AI: Lana Lazebnik

Quiz 1 due Sep 10, 11:59 PM CT

Sept 18

Area Talks:

Architecture, Compilers, and Parallel Computing (1320 DCL)

Bioinformatics and Computational Biology (0216 Siebel Center)

Architecture: Lawrence Rauchwerger, Saugata Ghose
BCB: Tandy Warnow


Sep 25

Area Talks:

Computers and Education (0216 Siebel Center)

Data and Information Systems (1320 DCL)

C&E: Craig Zilles
DAIS: Chengxiang Zhai, Yongjoo Park


Oct 2

Area Talks:

Interactive Computing (1320 DCL)

Programming Languages, Formal Methods, and Software Engineering (0216 Siebel)

IC: Karrie Karahalios, Sarah Sterman


Oct 9

Area Talks:
Scientific Computing (0216 Siebel  Center)
Security and Privacy (1320 DCL)

Sci. Comp: Edgar Solomonik
S&P: Varun Chandrasekaran, Gang Wang


Oct 16

Area Talks:
Systems and Networking (1320 DCL)
Theory and Algorithms (0216 Siebel  Center)

T&A: Makrand Sinha, Sariel Har-Peled

Program of Study Area due (by end of day)

Oct 23

Responsible conduct in Research

Responsible conduct when working with people and their data

  Attend RCR Ethics Training (info coming)

Oct 30

Learning to speak your ideas

Robin Kravets


Nov 6

Doing Research!

Robin Kravets


Nov 13

Taking care of yourself



Nov 20

Fall Break - NO CLASS



Nov 27

Fellowships in the CS Department

Fellowships in the College



Dec 4

Career paths and wrap-up

Robin Kravets

Complete a one question survey about career paths by December 7 @ 11:59 PM.