New Ph.D. Student Seminar

CPSC 9500 — Section 007 — Spring 2021

Wednesdays, 1:25PM – 2:15PM (Online)
Meeting Zoom Information on Canvas

Jacob Sorber
jsorber at clemson dot edu
225 McAdams

Discussion topics and recommended readings will be posted on the online course schedule, found at the following URL.

This site is a living document and I will be updating the content throughout the semester. Please check it regularly.

The goal of this seminar is simple — to give you lots of guidance about being a Ph.D. student, and help you get off to a great start on this exciting stage in your career.

Key Topics:

Readings for the course will come from online sources.

Be enrolled as a Ph.D. Student in the School of Computing.

This seminar uses pass/fail grading. The point of the course is not to be stressful, but to help you. As long as you attend and are an active engaged participant, you will pass.

I may occasionally assign readings, videos, and other exploration activities from online sources. Please try to do the readings before class meetings, because it will make the discussion more beneficial for you.

Nope. There won't be any.

Nope. None of those either. It's not that kind of class.

My goal is for this class to be an ongoing open discussion. As such I don't have regularly-scheduled office hours for this course. If you have a question you want to discuss, just ask it, and I'll try to make time in class, as long as it seems useful to others. If you want to discuss something privately, let me know and we can make an appointment.

Participation is everything in this class. There are no assignments or tests. Just the group discussion each week. If you don't participate, if I don't know who you are, or if you spend the semester trying to hide, I will fail you. Don't try me.

Class attendance (on Zoom) is important, since the discussion is the whole point of the course. That said, I understand that things come up. You may miss up to 2 discussions, no questions asked, and still pass the course. If you have a documented medical or other emergency that requires more than that, please let me know as soon as possible, and we'll figure something out.

If I am more than ten (10) minutes late, you should assume that I am dealing with an emergency and will not make it to class. Check your email and Canvas in those circumstances for further explanation.

But, we're in a pandemic. What if you get COVID-19? Yes, we are in a pandemic, and that could definitely complicate things. If you have a medical emergency, seek appropriate medical help immediately. Then, as soon as you can, contact me, send me documentation, and we will figure out an adjusted plan for you to complete the course work. I will use this approach for natural disasters and any other genuine emergencies.

What if I get COVID-19? If I get sick, or test positive for COVID-19, we will continue to meet on-line, as usual. If I have a medical emergency and am unable to teach, we will make further adjustments as necessary.

We each need to do our part in keeping each other healthy and safe. Do not come to campus with COVID symptoms. Please follow the University's physical distancing and sanitation guidelines.

Email is the best way to contact me. During normal working hours on weekdays I check email frequently, and I will try to respond quickly (hopefully the same day). I also sometimes check email on weekends and evenings, but not nearly as frequently (almost never on Sundays). So, expect longer delays.

In accordance with the University’s policy, I will do my best to provide reasonable accommodations to students needing accomodations. Students should contact Student Accessibility Services and myself to discuss their individual needs for accommodation as early as possible—at least a week before special accommodations are needed. You can make an appointment by calling 864-656-6848, by emailing Appointments are strongly encouraged—drop-ins will be seen if possible, but there could be a significant wait due to scheduled appointments. If you receive a Academic Access Letter, please present these to me as early in the semester as possible so that I can make accommodations in a timely manner. It is the student’s responsibility to follow this process each semester. You can access further information here:

Jan 12: Last day to register or add a class
Jan 20: Last day to drop a class without a W grade
Mar 12: Last day to drop a class without final grades

As members of the Clemson University community, we have inherited Thomas Green Clemson's vision of this institution as a “high seminary of learning.” Fundamental to this vision is a mutual commitment to truthfulness, honor, and responsibility, without which we cannot earn the trust and respect of others. Furthermore, we recognize that academic dishonesty detracts from the value of a Clemson degree. Therefore, we shall not tolerate lying, cheating, or stealing in any form.

Following the Clemson University Code of Student Conduct, academic dishonesty of any kind will be reported to the Clemson University Academic Integrity Committee. In the event that the committee reaches a finding of guilt, the student(s) involved in the misconduct will receive an automatic F for the semester. I take this policy very seriously. The University’s statement on academic integrity is posted here. The CECAS college statement can be found here. The Clemson School of Computing Academic Honesty Policy can be found here.

Clemson University is committed to a policy of equal opportunity for all persons and does not discriminate on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, sexual orientation, gender, pregnancy, national origin, age, disability, veteran’s status, genetic information or protected activity (e.g., opposition to prohibited discrimination or participation in any complaint process, etc.) in employment, educational programs and activities, admissions and financial aid. This includes a prohibition against sexual harassment and sexual violence as mandated by Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. The University is committed to combatting sexual harassment and sexual violence. As a result, you should know that University faculty and staff members who work directly with students are required to report any instances of sexual harassment and sexual violence, to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. What this means is that as your professor, I am required to report any incidents of sexual harassment, sexual violence or misconduct, stalking, domestic and/or relationship violence that are directly reported to me, or of which I am somehow made aware. There are two important exceptions to this requirement about which you should be aware: Confidential Resources and facilitators of sexual awareness programs such as "Take Back the Night and Aspire to be Well" when acting in those capacities, are not required to report incidents of sexual discrimination. Another important exception to the reporting requirement exists for academic work. Disclosures about sexual harassment, sexual violence, stalking, domestic and/or relationship violence that are shared as part of an academic project, a research project, classroom discussion, or course assignment, are not required to be disclosed to the University’s Title IX Coordinator. This policy is located at Ms. Alesia Smith is the Executive Director for Equity Compliance and the Title IX Coordinator. Her office is located at 223 Holtzendorff Hall, phone number is 864.656.3181, and email address is

Materials in this and all courses should be considered to be copyrighted. They are intended for use only by students registered and enrolled in a particular course and only for instructional activities associated with and for the duration of the course. They may not be retained in another medium or disseminated further. They are provided in compliance with the provisions of the Teach Act. Students must seek permission from instructors to record any class activity, including lectures, discussions, and presentations. Students should refer to the Use of Copyrighted Materials and “Fair Use Guidelines” policy on the Clemson University website for additional information (link