Grid Computing Research LaboratoryState University of New York (SUNY) Binghamton
Department of Computer Science
This page is intended to provide answers to the most commonly asked questions from prospective graduate students, and from current students in the Computer Science Department here at SUNY-Binghamton who are considering joining our research group. We'd rather answer everyone's questions individually, but we get a lot of email from prospective students. Hopefully, this page will save everyone time and effort. Please read this page in its entirety before sending unsolicited email, and if you still do want to send us email, please begin by letting us know that you have read this FAQ for prospective students.
-- Mike, Madhu, and Ken
What is your area of research?
A: Grid computing is the use of hundreds, thousands, or millions of geographically and organizationally disperse and diverse resources to solve problems that require more computing power than is available from a single machine or from a local area distributed system or cluster. Grids also allow programmers to use different and more resources than they would otherwise be able to. Grid software generally runs on top of underlying host operating systems, and serves to manage the resources and make them available to applications developers. In particular, we work on component-based grid application development, evolution of grid services and objects, high-performance C++ Web services tools, dynamic grid information dissemination, sensors and instruments on grids, and other varied projects.
How can I learn more about grid computing?
A: We have a page of background reading hat is intended to introduce students to the area of grid computing, with an emphasis on our particular areas of interest.
Grid computing seems like a large area...
how can I learn more about your specific interests?
A: Our lists of projects and recent publications show our areas of concentration within the field of grid computing.
Can I join your research group?
A: We hope so! However, we cannot accommodate every student who is interested in working with us. The best and most common way of joining our research group is to take as many courses as you can that are taught by Professor Chiu, Govindaraju, or Lewis, as early as possible in your graduate program. That way one or more of us can get to know your talents and abilities better. That also gives you an opportunity to get to know our personalities and research better. Excel in your course(s) early on and you'll be more likely to join your research group of choice.
What courses do you teach?
A: We teach the following courses regularly:
What courses should I take to get ready for Grid computing research?
A: The courses listed above prepare you best to work in the grid computing research lab. No one course in particular is a strict prerequisite or requirement. We also recommend that you take CS 552: Systems Programming and CS 528: Computer Networks, early on in your course of study. Systems Programming will help develop your C, C++, and Unix programming skills, which most (but not all) projects with us will require. Computer Networks will help build an appreciation for Internet scale systems, and will allow you to understand the layer upon which grid software runs.
Can I do an independent study with you?
A: Almost definitely not with Mike or Madhu. We generally don't like to direct independent study courses, as they take too much time away from the students who are working on research projects. You can ask, but they're very likely to say no.
Ken is somewhat more willing to consider directing qualified students. This would depend on the interests and skills of the student.
I'm interested in a Teaching or Research Assistantship... can I have one?!
A: Decisions on Teaching Assistantships (TA's) are generally made by the CS graduate faculty as a whole. If you came here without a TA for your first semester, you almost definitely won't be able to get one for that semester (decisions have already been made). However, you can apply, sometime in the middle of your first semester (and in all subsequent semesters), to be considered for a TA starting in the next semester. Again, the faculty as a whole decides who gets TA positions. These decisions are based upon students' performance in the program so far, including your progress on your research (if any), your performance (not just grades!) in your courses, and other factors. Having an advisor who is willing to fight for you during the TA selection process is an important factor as well, so it is in your best interest to get yourself hooked up with an advisor as soon as you can. Be aware that students who do enter the program with TA support are currently required to complete a Masters Thesis (rather than a project or a comprehensive exam).
Some of our Research Assistantships (RA's) will go to the very best PhD candidates (most of whom will have already completed a Masters degree before coming to SUNY-Binghamton) who have applied to the program. These RA's will be used to attract top students to the department and our group. Generally, we look for outstanding academic performance (grades and GRE scores), real experience with distributed computing tools (CORBA, RMI, Globus, MPI, .Net, COM/DCOM, RPC, etc.), and some kind of real research experience (ideally, one or more published papers). Other RA positions will generally go to students with whom we're already familiar, most likely students who have already joined and proven themselves within the group, rather than to students who are new to the department or to the group.
Where can I get an application to apply to your
department, and what are the
A: Both are available from the Graduate School, here.
Here's my resume, can you take a look and tell me if I should apply?
A: Probably not. We will not circumvent the application process this way. We get hundreds of applicants every year; to be fair to them, we review applications in a structured organized way. Please submit an official application and wait for an official reply. If you must contact us in addition to your official application, keep your email short and highlight specific experience you have had publishing papers and working on real projects that are related to or relevant to our research. Merely including “highlights” of your application and resume are not likely to get our attention beyond what we see from other applicants.
What is the difference between a Masters Project and a Masters Thesis?
A: Generally speaking, a thesis constitutes a more original research contribution, is more comprehensive, and requires a longer, more structured, and more in depth writeup than a project does. But the differences will vary depending on who you ask. For a Masters thesis you should at least submit, and preferably successfully publish, at least one research paper at a good conference.
How long does it take for a PhD / Masters Thesis / Masters project?
A: That's impossible to say, as it depends on too many factors that we can't know before starting. Generally speaking, if all goes well, a good masters project can be finished within one year of starting (including some time for getting up to speed and climbing the learning curve) and a good masters thesis can be completed within a year and a half of starting. But these are very rough estimates. Some will take longer, others not as long.
For a PhD, of course, things are even more variable. You should strive to complete all course work as early as possible, pass your PhD exam as soon as you can, and get to work on your dissertation proposal early. Doing these things will help reduce the amount of time that is not spent toward getting your PhD.
I'm a graduate student in the department, and I'm interested in working with you...
can I come meet you?
A: Yes! Please stop by and introduce yourself! Mike's office is in Rm. T14 of the Engineering Building, Madhu is in T8, and Ken is in T22.