Georgia Tech: Networking & Telecommunications
 Group


NETWORKING Ph.D. QUALIFYING EXAM

Revised: January 2009

Regarding the written part of the exam:

Objectives:

Evaluate, and provide incentive to improve, the following:
  • deep and broad knowledge in networking area
  • clear and precise writing skills under tight time constraints
  • creative thinking, analytical thinking, problem solving

Reading list:

  • There is no specific reading list.
Students should:
  • Know very well what is covered in basic networking textbooks such as Kurose/Ross or Peterson/Davie.
  • Read highly influential networking papers (e.g., highly cited) published in the last 10-15 years.
  • Students are also encouraged to:
    • Attend networking seminar and talks.
    • Take graduate-level networking courses (such as 6250, 7260, 7270, 8000-level seminars, etc).
    • Look at past proceedings, journals, Google scholar, etc, finding out which are the highly influential papers.

Length of exam:

  • Answer 6 out of 6 questions.
  • Duration: The written exam will take place on two consecutive days. On each day, students will be given 3 problems. The duration of the exam on each day is 9am to 5pm.
  • The exam answers should be typed electronically.

Grading process:

  • Each question will be graded by two faculty members.
  • Grade scale: 0-6 (0:no answer, 3:marginal-pass, 6:excellent).
  • Possible outcomes: fail, conditional-pass, pass.

Timeline:

  • The written exam takes place sometime in March.
  • Sometime in April, the student receives an evaluation letter regarding the written part of the exam. The letter will provide the final grade for each question, comments, recommendations and potentially conditions to pass the written exam.

Regarding the oral part of the exam:

Objectives:

Evaluate, and provide incentive to improve, the following:
  • all stages of working on a research problem,
  • presentation skills and ability to answer questions,
  • ability to recognize the limitations of your own research,
  • ability to identify open problems.

Committee:

  • A student-specific committee of 3 faculty.
  • The advisor is not included, but the advisor has the responsibility to form the committee.
  • Two faculty from the networking area and one from an outside area or even from outside CoC (but not from outside GaTech).
  • Committee needs to have an identified chair (selected by the committee).

Duration and structure:

  • 90 mins per student.
  • The student presents a paper that he/she wrote. Even if there are co-authors, the student should be the primary author. The paper may or may not be published yet.
  • 30 mins presentation, 30 mins Q&A, and 30 mins (without the student) to discuss and decide the outcome of the exam.

Advisor's participation:

  • The advisor submits a written evaluation of the student's research progress and skills to the committee, prior to the oral exam.
  • The advisor should provide a statement of the extent of his/her (and of co-authors') contributions to the work the student will present.
  • The advisor should not help the student with the presentation.

Timeline and outcome:

  • The oral exams take place in April.
  • The committee for each student should decide, after the oral exam, on a final outcome and write an evaluation letter that will be eventually given to the student. The letter will provide comments, recommendations and potentially conditions to pass the exam.
  • Possible outcomes: fail, conditional-pass, pass
  • The chair of the oral exam committee is responsible to follow up on the pass-conditions set by that committee.

General requirements

  • All PhD students need to take the exam in the 4th semester (Spring of 2nd year) of the PhD program or earlier.
  • Students admitted after completing the MS program at GT are expected to take the exam in the Spring of their first year as PhD students. They can defer by one more year if the advisor provides a justification (e.g., the student was not involved with networking research during the two years of his/her MS studies).
  • The outcome of the oral exam is independent from the outcome of the written exam. It is possible that a student passes one part of the exam but not the other.
  • To pass the exam, the student needs to pass both parts.
  • A student cannot take the exam (written or oral) more than twice. In case the student fails at the written part, he/she will have to wait till next Spring (3rd year). If he/she fails the oral part, the committee can decide whether the next attempt will be one semester later (Fall of 3rd year) or a year later.

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