Tuesday, January 16

How PhD gets to you in SoC

Here's a letter I wrote to the SoC secretary and her answer:


While talking to other students involved in the current and past QE
exams I realised that there is no form for a graduate student to give
feedback on the exam itself, subjects and questions. I find that a
feedback from students is important in this case, since the current form
of taking the QE is new and not quite perfected :). I have failed two
questions for this QE, and, while these are the first exams I have
failed, I am not writing to you as a complaint, but in hope that future
graduate students will somehow benefit.

I will try to give my honest feedback for each subject that I took and I
hope you will bear with me through this long e-mail.

CS 5202 I found the module webpage to be very comprehensive. I am
referring to http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~cs5202

Computer Networks question: Very nice, covering a lot of the syllabus
and requiring the student to analyze trade-offs and drawbacks.

Operating Systems question: To this day I still don't know what the
question was about :), and throughout the exam I had in mind three
possible designs for the system presented. After the exam I talked it
over with other students and we still couldn't decide to which design
the question was referring exactly.

Computer Architecture question: While previous Computer Architecture
questions required the student to think about how and why new systems
are designed and constructed from a hardware point of view, to analyze
cache protocols, etc. , this question focused on assembly instructions
and on circuits. I suppose it is indeed up to the Professor that is
grading the exam to determine what he or she thinks that is the basic
knowledge needed for a specific field and to ask a question based on
that, but as graduate students that are not hardware oriented, assembler
instructions, circuits and problems involving lab exercises (i.e not in
the reference book) seem to be too basic and refer to knowledge that is
irrelevant. Furthermore, the instructions presented in the question did
not correspond with any from the referenced book.

For CS 5201, the only feedback that I have to give is that I found out
after the exam that the page that I thought was for CS 5201 was not
http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~cs5201/Quals/ (I see it's down now), but
http://www.comp.nus.edu.sg/~abhik/CS-QE/ , and only some students knew
about it :). This led to the fact that I did not know that the "Logic
and Formal Systems" subject had changed to "Logic and Artificial
Intelligence" and with it the referenced book. That was indeed the
explanation I had for not finding the questions for the logic subject
familiar :) and explains to me why I failed that question. While I find
this unjust and frustrating, I wonder if this is not going to happen for
the following QE exam :) and this led me to write to you.

On a final note, I want to point out that there should be a way of
collecting feedback from graduate students on the QE exams. We are
almost researchers by now so the feedback provided would be meaningful.
Also, I understand that it is difficult to formulate only one question
to cover an entire field of research, and I will try to do by best
(again) to pass the remaining questions.

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-mail.

And the answer:

Dear Claudia,

Thank you for your feedback.

Graduate Office will looked into your comments and endeavor to improve the
current QE process.

Have a good weekend!


Riight. WTF?!

[black mamba]

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