The reading and reading response are required. It is okay to miss a few. But if you miss more than a few, you will be in jeopardy of receiving a bad grade in the class.

The deadline for the reading response is 11:59 PM before the day of the lecture.


  1. Do the assigned reading, taking notes as needed.
  2. Open your favorite text editor and type up your thoughts on the assigned reading.This will be posted to Piazza, so you may use Piazza-style formatting (e.g., for equations).

    If you don’t have any original thoughts, then a very brief summary that demonstrates your understanding of the reading will suffice. Include at least one specific question or point about the paper that you think is worthy of in-class discussion.
  3. Run a spell checker and correct any misspellings.
  4. Before the deadline, post your reading response as a public “note” on Piazza in the correct folder.

Homework assignments

There will be a few homework assignments early on in the semester.

You must abide by the policies on collaboration and use of outside references.

Each homework write-up must be neatly typeset as a PDF document using TeX, LaTeX, or similar systems.For information and tips on using LaTeX, see the Introduction to LaTeX by Rocco Servedio, The Not So Short Introduction to LaTeX2e by Oetiker et al, the Short Math Guide for LaTeX by the American Mathematical Society, and the LaTeX Wikibook.

Ensure that the following appear on the first page of the write-up:

Submit your write-up as a single PDF file by 11:59 PM of the specified due date. Submission instructions will be given with the homework assignment.

Class participation

Every student must serve as a presenter and/or scribe for at least one class.Depending on enrollment, we may need some students to present/scribe more than once.

Sign-ups for this will take place during the first two weeks of the course on the Google Sheets document; use your Columbia “LionMail” account.

Instructions for presenter

To be done at least one week in advance of the presentation:

  • Read and take notes on the paper for the assigned date.
  • Make a plan for the presentation on the paper in consultation with the instructor.
    • Although it is expected that every student will have read the paper, the presentation should not assume this.
    • The presentation should be understandable by students who have been following the course up until the assigned date.
    • The presentation should put the paper in context with the rest of the course.
    • For a long paper, consult with the instructor on which parts of the paper to present.
  • Prepare the presentation, either by making slides or notes for a chalkboard talk, following these guidelinesThese guidelines are for slide-based presentations. But they are also largely applicable to blackboard talks as well.

    (by Charles Elkan). Plan for the presentation to be about one hour, which will leave ample time for discussion and questions.
  • Schedule a meeting with the instructor for sometime in the week before the presentation to review the presentation materials. (If the instructor is not available, then schedule a meeting with the TA.)

Preparing a good presentation can take several days, so plan ahead accordingly. For example, you should read the paper much more than a week before the presentation.

To be done on the day of the presentation:

  • Make sure you have everything you need for the presentation (e.g., laptop, display cables, chalk, whiteboard markers).
  • Deliver the presentation.
  • Share materials (e.g., slides, notes) with the scribe.

Instructions for scribe

To be done in advance of the presentation:

  • Read and take notes on the paper for the assigned date.

To be done on the day of the presentation:

  • Take careful notes on the presentation and the discussion from the class.
  • Get materials (e.g., slides, notes) from the presenter.

To be done by one week after the presentation:

  • Using the provided LaTeX template, write-up self-contained “scribe notes” on the paper and presentation.
  • E-mail the LaTeX source, along with any figures and bibliography files, to the instructor. (If there are multiple files, put them together into a single zip or tar file.)

To be done by 10 days after the presentation:

  • Revise the scribe notes as needed based on feedback from the instructor.
  • E-mail the revised scribe notes (+ source) to the instructor as before.

About the scribe notes:

  • The scribe notes should be well-organized, using logical sectional divisions as appropriate.
  • It is not enough to simply typeset the contents of the slides and/or blackboard. The scribe notes should fill in omissions from the lecture, work out details for proofs and derivations, etc.
  • The scribe notes should be understandable by students who have been following the course up until the assigned date.
  • Write in complete sentences, in clear and precise prose. I highly recommend the article The Science of Scientific Writing by Gopen and Swan for tips to improve the quality of your writing.
  • Do not copy or simply paraphrase material from the readings. This defeats the purpose of writing these notes. You can of course consult the source materials for details, but you should work primarily from the notes you took during the presentation and notes you took while reading.
  • Accompany every algorithm, lemma, theorem, etc. with discussion of its purpose, intuition behind its derivation or proof, etc.
  • Use figures and diagrams where appropriate.
  • Include bibliographic references (e.g., using BibTeX).
  • Some great examples (albeit in a different format and on different topics) can be found on Columbia Advanced Machine Learning Seminar blog.
  • Please read this page on things to watch out for in scribe notes.


The course project is an opportunity to engage in research on interactive learning theory. You are free to pick any topic you like, within reason.

Some examples of suitable project “types” are as follows.

See this paper list for additional literature on interactive learning and related topics.

You may work individually or in pairs.


Each of the project proposal, progress report, and final project report should be neatly typeset as a PDF document using TeX, LaTeX, or similar systems with bibliographic references (e.g., using BibTeX).