Group Independent: Hypermedia

Instructor: Samuel A. Rebelsky (
Tentative Time: TuTh 3:15-4:05
Credits: 2
Prerequisites: CSC151 and permission of Mr. Rebelsky
Topics Include: Perl, CGI, Project Management, CS Research Techniques, Web Mediation, 3D Graphics, Data Mining, Apache, others to be determined.
Expected workload: 2 hpw in class, 3-4 hpw outside of class.


Each summer, I take on a large number of summer research students who work on a variety of my research projects relating to the Web, particularly the Web in education. The primary threads of my research are the creation of educational Web sites, the analysis of how students actually use the Web (using graphics and data mining), and the automated modification of arbitrary Web sites (e.g., to add annotations or links).

In order to help my summer students hit the ground running as it were, I am now offering a regular 2-credit group independent on a variety of topics related to my summer research. While the focus of the independent is students who will be doing research with me, I expect that the topics may be of interest to many students and I know that many students would like to be able to take a two-credit course. I am therefore keeping it open to essentially any students who have passed CSC151 and who are interested.

Tentative Schedule of Topics

We will cover a number of related and unrelated topics in the independent study. These include

Week One: Background
An overview of the kinds of research that happens in the Grinnell Laboratory for Interactive Multimedia Experimentation and Research (Glimmer Labs, for short). Discussion of the intent of the group independent.
Homework: Reading papers.
Week Two: Perl
Introduction to one of the key programming languages for Web development (and for many other activities) which is also a core language for Glimmer.
Homework: Simple programs.
Week Three: CGI in Perl
Writing programs that generate Web pages in response to requests from the user.
Homework: Mad Libs.
Week Four: CS Research Techniques
Key digital libraries and search services. Turning a research question into search for related work. Academic vs. commercial work.
Homework: Identify related work.
Week Five: Project Management
Techniques we use to share program code and other resources. Primarily an introduction to CVS and make.
Homework: Create CVS project.
Week Six: Web Mediation (1)
Introduction to the concept of Web mediation. Introduction to Web Raveler, Glimmer Labs' key mediation tool.
Homework: Install and test Web Raveler.
Week Seven: Web Mediation (2)
Writing your own Web mediators.
Homework: Write your own Web mediator.
Week Eight: Introduction to C Programming
That's about it.
Homework: Some simple programs.
Week Nine: 3D Graphics with Open GL.
Writing simple 3D programs.
Homework: Simple 3D World.
Week Ten: Web Analysis.
Overview of Project Clio, Glimmer Labs' Web Analysis Suite.
Homework: Simple usage analysis.
Week Eleven: Graphical Web Analysis
Overview of Clio's Worlds, our graphical Web analyzer. Discussion of how to design new worlds.
Homework: Build new Clio world.
Week Twelve: Introduction to Data Mining.
The automatic detection of patterns in large collections of data.
Homework: Readings on Data Mining.
Weeks Thirteen and Fourteen: Open.
Topics to be determined.


Where can I find this page online?
This independent sounds interesting, but I have no free time in the fall. Will it be offered again?
Yes. Once I have the overall structure design, I intend to offer it every semester.
I have another class at the scheduled meeting time. Will you change the time?
The time is tentative. If enough people want the time switched, I'll think about it.
I'm interested in doing summer research with you in summer 2004. Do I have to take this independent in either fall 2003 or spring 2004?
No. However, those who take the independent will certainly have a better chance of being accepted.
If I take this independent, will I automatically be accepted to do summer research in computer science?
Nope. You still have to fill out the application. You will, however, receive a few more points in my rubric for comparing applicants. I expect that you'll also write a better essay.
I'm an upper-level computer science student. I worry that this has only CSC151 as a prerequisite. Should I still think about participating?
Yes. I'm hoping to tailor homework assignments so that different levels of students have different things to do.
These topics sound very interesting. Will I be able to take this independent more than once?
I'm not sure enough about college policies, but we should be able to come up with a way for you to take it multiple times. For example, you might serve as a co-coordinator of the independent the second time you take it.
Why is this being offered as a group independent and not a two-credit course?
I'm already teaching five courses next year and can't cut any of them. Since this topic is being offered on my initiative, I don't think it's fair to ask the college to pay me for it.
Sounds great! How do I register?
Get an independent study form from the registrar. Come talk to me.
My question wasn't covered in this FAQ.
Email me at


Friday, 18 April 2003 [Samuel A. Rebelsky]

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Samuel A. Rebelsky