CMS 273, Winter 2021

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Frontiers in Computing and Mathematical Sciences

Winter 2021
  • Organizers: Richard Murray (, S. Feldman, E. Schmidt
  • Organizational meeting: 6 Jan (Wed), 1 pm via Zoom

The purpose of this course is to explore applications of tools from Computing and Mathematical Sciences to new problem domains. The course is organized around small teams consisting of CMS and non-CMS students who will work on projects of mutual interest in some faculty member's research area. Our main goals are for the participating CMS and science/engineering faculty to become more familiar with each other's work and expertise, and to get our graduate students interacting with one another.

The output of the course will be a short paper of the sort that could be sent to a conference. The paper should consist of a short description of the problem under study and the relevant CDS tools, followed by a preliminary set of results and a description of next steps to be pursued.

Course Schedule

16 JanOrganizational meeting, 1 pm via Zoom
211 JanFirst team meeting, 1 pm via Zoom
3-5Work in teams; define problem to be studied + approaches
68 FebMidterm presentations, time TBD via Zoom
7-10Work in teams
Finals15 MarFinal presentations, time TBD via Zoom
17 MarFinal reports due (by 5 pm)


The projects for this years class are listed below. To access the project descriptions, you must be on the Caltech network (on campus or via VPN).


Units and Grading

CMS 273 is a 9 unit course, offered either graded or pass/fail. Each team is expected to complete the following:

  • Project presentation: each team will make short (15-20 min) presentations in the middle and toward the end of the term, describing the focus of their project. Comments on these presentations will be provided to the team for incorporation in the final report.
  • Final report: each team will prepare a paper describing their work during the term. This should build on the midterm report by including some preliminary results and/or case studies.

In order to complete the work for the term, each team should plan on meeting at least once per week. The first team meeting will be on Monday, 11 Jan, at 1 pm via Zoom (at which time a regular meeting time can be established by the team).

Frequenty Asked Questions

  1. Q: Can I propose my own project to work on?
    A: Not at the present time. Because we need to find projects that have the right CMS content and that have a faculty sponsor and subject matter experts available, we line up the projects prior to the start of class. If you have an idea for a project that we might offer next year, send e-mail to Richard and he'll put it on his list.

  2. Q: How will the project work during COVID?
    A: Most activities will happen remotely, but project teams can use Caltech's outdoor meeting spaces to meet in person if everyone is n the Pasadena area (and subject to the limitations around the use of those areas).

  3. Q: Can I still participate if I can't make it to the first class?
    Yes! Just make sure to send e-mail to Richard so that you get the link for the preferences survey and that you submit it on time.

  4. Q: I am not pre-registered for the course; can I still sign up for a project?
    Yes, if there is room available. Students who are pre-registered will be given their first choice of projects, but if there are slots available on other projects, additional students an sign up. Just make sure to attend the organizational meeting (6 Jan) to get information on how to submit your project preferences.