Instructor: Amir Houmansadr
Course number: CMPSCI660 @ University of Massachusetts Amherst
Class hours: TuTh 11:30am-12:45pm
Class location: 142 Computer Science Building
Office hours: Wed 1:30pm-2:30pm
Office location: CS 206
E-mail: amir (at)
(Note: make sure to have your email Subject started with [660])


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, social networks, anonymity systems, malware, intrusion detection, intellectual property protection, and more.

For each class session:
  1. Students are expected to thoroughly study one assigned paper. You only need to review one paper for each class if there are more than one.
  2. You should submit a review for the assigned paper on Moodle. Use this format for writing reviews.
  3. You are expected to engage in class discussions.
Grading is done based on these items: (summarized in the following table)
  1. Projects: You should form a team of 2 Students and work with the instructor to choose a research project. You will present the project at the end of the semester, and you need to submit a 6-pages report. Further details here: Projects.
  2. Discussion Leads: You are asked to lead the discussion of some of the papers. For each paper we need a Pro and Con leader. Given the number of sessions and enrollment, each student will need to do a single Pro, and a single Con. You can volunteer to lead the paper you are interested in, but you have to tell me 3 days before that session. Otherwise, I'll randomly assign students to papers.
  3. Paper reviews: Reviews of the assigned papers turned in on Moodle. Check out the Schedule for papers.
  4. Participation: Active participation in class discussions (even if you're not the discussion lead).
Grading Item Percentage
Paper Reviews 30%
Class Participation (Including leading discussions) 30%
Final Project Presentation 15%
Final Project Report 25%


Undergraduate degree in computer science, or CS460 or 466, or equivalent.


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