Course Modalities

Course Format

This course does not follow a traditional classroom model. You are expected to study reading assignments before the live online sessions, in which the lecturers will provide additional context for the topics. Reading this material and providing short summaries is the lion's share of the course work outside of the sessions. Beside presentations by the lecturers, the sessions will contain Q&A sessions, and live exercises in breakout rooms. Active participation is highly encouraged and contributes to grades.

To be successful in this course, you will need to read the recommended material, understand it, analyze it, question it, and then reconstruct it in your own way. You will have to hand in a short summary of the material for each major topic, where, in addition to the contents, you will describe your thoughts and questions on it. These submissions contribute a total of 25% for your final grade. Another 25% will be determined from your active participation in the sessions.

At the end of the semester, you will receive an assignment comprising of a number of questions on one of the major topics of your choice. You will then have two weeks to solve these questions and explain your solutions in writing. This involves extracting and presenting the relevant context from the reading material, in a way that clearly conveys the key ideas underlying your solutions. This final assignment will contribute the remaining 50% of your grade.



Grades for he course will be computed as follows:

  • Topic Summaries (25%). A summary for each chapter will be expected throughout the semester. Summaries are individual pieces of work. We encourage you to discuss the material with your fellow classmates, but the final work must be your own and reflect your understanding and insights into the topic.
  • Participation (25%). Attending the sessions is highly recommended, since the class discussions will be graded.
  • Final Exam (50%). Final evaluation will be based on a written submission that solves some tailored questions and summarizes the relevant material for these solutions, for a topic of your choice.

Participants are allowed to drop two grades in total from the summaries and participation grades. Further absences can be justified, but require a medical certificate or equivalent proof.





Topic Summaries

Students have to hand in a written summary of each chapter before the chapter is lectured.

Assignments serve the following purposes:

  • ensure that students have an overview and a basic understanding of the chapter
  • identify parts that are easy to understand and parts that have to be explained in detail
  • prepare students for questions (questions and active discussion are part of the participation grade)

A summary is a one to two page document that has to contain at least:

  • chapter title
  • your name, your matriculation number
  • a short (single paragraph) overview of the chapter. Describe the goal of the chapter, as well as how it fits into the context.
  • a summary of the chapter containing main technical ideas (e.g. proof outline) and their relation in your own words
  • a personal conclusion, i.e., a few sentences on what you learned, mismatch in your expectation, surprising results, etc.
  • (optional, bonus points) a summary of parts you did not understand and specific questions for the lecture

The summary has to be sent to the tutor the day before the lecture.


Credit Points

Successful completion of this curse is rewarded with 6 credit points.


Plattform and Privacy

The course is held online in the Zoom videoconferencing service. Participants are encouraged to activate their webcam and microphone for active discussions. The lectures will be recorded and made available for the course participants. There will be private discussion rounds which are not recorded, that allow for any student questions.

We have decided to use Zoom as a videoconferencing service. Note that this provider (Zoom Video Communications, Inc., 55 Almaden Blvd, Suite 600, San Jose, CA 95113, USA) can access all data that you provide when registering for the video conference. If you do not provide personal data during the registration, there is still a possibility that Zoom identifies you using your IP address. We would not have decided to use Zoom if we considered this as a significant risk. As an additional precaution, we have opted to use European computing centers. Should you still have privacy concerns (and are not using an Internet Service Provider that cannot map IP addresses to your name), we suggest using an anonymization service such as Tor (

You can find Zoom's complete privacy policy at:

We would be happy if we could create a pleasant lecture environment despite the current situation. Personal interactions, with your microphone and camera switched on, may contribute to this environment. We also encourage you to ask questions verbally. Note that this is voluntary. You may switch off both your camera and your microphone, and register under a pseudonym. Questions are still possible, in particular using the chat function.

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