Instructor: Amir Houmansadr
Course number: CMPSCI660 @ University of Massachusetts Amherst
Class hours: TuTh 11:30am-12:45pm
Class location: 140 Computer Science Building
Office hours: Th 2pm--3pm
Office location: CS206
E-mail: amir (at)
(Note: make sure to have your email Subject started with [660] in all class communications, or your email is lost!)


This course provides an in-depth examination of the fundamental principles of information assurance. While the companion course for undergraduates is focused on practical issues, the syllabus of this course is influenced strictly by the latest research. We will cover a range of topics, including authentication, integrity, confidentiality of distributed systems, network security, malware, privacy, intrusion detection, intellectual property protection, and more.

For each cleass session:
  1. Students are expected to thoroughly study the assigned paper.
  2. At the beginning of each class, students are asked to write a (closed-book) review for the assigned paper. Students will be given 10 minutes to do so. Being late for the class may risk your paper review not being accepted. The in-class reviews are also used to check for class attendance.
  3. After the reviews are turned in, the instructor will do a lecture, presenting the assigned paper and related work.
Grading is done based on these items: (summarized in the following table)
  1. Projects: Students should work with the instructor to choose a research project. Please see the Projects section for deadlines and instructions.
  2. Exams: There will be a midterm exam and a final exam. The midterm includes the assigned papers up to the midterm exam, and the final includes the rest of the papers.
  3. In-class reviews: Reviews of the assigned papers written and turned in at the beginning of classes.
  4. Participation: Active participation in class discussions.
In-class reviews 20%
Participation 10%
Midterm Exam 20%
Final Exam 20%
Project 30% (+10% bonus)


Undergraduate degree in computer science, or CS460. Other courses in the undergraduate information assurance track, such as CS466, will come in handy.


Here are some of the ethical rules that must be practiced by the students. If you are uncertain about an action being ethical please contact the instructor. You can also read UMass's Academic Honesty Policy.
  • Paper reviews must be prepared independently. Students may collaborate on the project if agreed by the instructor.
  • Presentation slides may be borrowed from others (e.g., authors of the papers), given proper acknowledgement.
  • As a general rule, students are not permitted to submit the same work for credit in multiple courses (e.g., a project submitted for another course, or an already published paper). Extensions to previous projects may be accepted after discussing with the instructor.
  • Plagiarism is a serious crime! If you use someone else's result in your report make sure to give proper reference. Exact wording should be reported inside quotation marks.

Useful links