COMP 142
Network Sciences
FALL 2022

Instructor: Lenore Cowen
Cummings 323; 627-5134; cowen AT
Office Hours: Tuesdays, 2-3pm in Cummings 323: (Office hours for 9/27 postponed to 9/29)
Lectures: Tuesdays/Thursdays 10:30am-noon in JCC 160.

Starting around midterms, Professor Cowen will meet students in their class project groups of 1-3 students, either virtually or in person on campus, depending what the student group requests.

Instructions and schedule for the final project are posted here

Piazza: We are going to experiment with Piazza for this class. You can subscribe here: once you have the password to sign up (also being distributed by email to people enrolled in the class, or email the instructor).

Diversity, Inclusion, and Collegiality: Tufts, the Computer Science Department, and the course staff intend to create a welcoming environment in which all students feel supported and believe that their learning needs and perspectives are valued. We intend to present materials in ways that are respectful to students of any background, ethnicity, race, culture, gender, sexual orientation, or age. We welcome your suggestions on how to improve course effectiveness for yourself or others. If you have religious conflicts with class meetings or requirements, please connect with the course staff. In this class, we will encourage questions, discussions, and some assignments that involve interacting in groups. While disagreements and differing opinions can be an important part of the learning experience, we expect all students to treat each other with collegiality and respect. Please reach out to course staff if there are any issues with inter-student interactions. While we do not expect this will be necessary, please be reminded that we will, if needed, follow the steps outlined in Tufts' sexual misconduct and non-discrimination policies.

Please also be aware that Tufts faculty are "mandated reporters": if we see, hear, or learn about any kind of discrimination or sexual misconduct, we are required to report it to the university. If you would like to access confidential counseling for an issue, you can find relevant resources here.

Accomodation for Students with Disabilities: Tufts University values the diversity of our students, staff, and faculty, recognizing the important contribution each student makes to our unique community. Tufts is committed to providing equal access and support to all qualified students through the provision of reasonable accommodations, so that each student may fully participate in the Tufts experience. If you have a disability that requires reasonable accommodations, please contact the Student Accessibility Services (SAS) office at or 617-627-4539 to make an appointment with an SAS representative to determine appropriate accommodations. Please be aware that accommodations cannot be enacted retroactively, making timeliness a critical aspect for their provision. In addition to following the standard procedures, if you have a disability and would like to discuss how we can better support your learning, feel free to set up an appointment with course staff.

Academic integrity: Tufts policies on academic integrity are here. In this class, there is both a lot of group work and some assignments where you are encouraged to build on existing libraries and code. For homeworks, while you are welcome to discuss problems with others in the class in an initial brainstorming phase, when it is time to write up your assignment in code, English and math, we expect that writeup to be your own individual work. In addition, when that individual work has benefited from group discussions or brainstorming, or alternatively, from material or libraries that exist on the web, you are obligated to acknowledge and credit anyone you talked to (Robin and I discussed how to solve problem 3) or any sources you consulted or utilized (I am using the Foo library version 10 written by X, available from Y). If you work in a small group for the final project, attribution and proper credit is particularly important.

Policy on sharing. This course is designed for everyone to feel comfortable participating in discussion, asking questions, learning, and facilitating the learning of others. In order for that atmosphere to be maintained, the recordings of our conversations will only be shared with the enrolled students in the class (not posted publicly), and it is prohibited for any of us who have access to the video to share it outside the course. Similarly, I have specifically designed the syllabus, exams, handouts, and lectures for the people who are enrolled in the course this term and those may not be shared outside this course. It is against Tufts policy for anyone to share any content made available in this course including course syllabi, reading materials, problems sets, videos, handouts, and exams with anyone outside of the course without the express permission of the instructor. This especially includes any posting or sharing of videos or other recordings on publicly accessible websites or forums. Any such sharing or posting could violate copyright law or law that protects the privacy of student educational records.

Teaching Assistant: Polina Shpilker
Contact information in the private page.
TA Office Hours: Wednesdays 1-2pm and Thursdays 2-3pm in Halligan 118, and by (special) request via email.

The website for this class is at

The hws and handouts are password protected; password available in class. We thank C. Mike Pietras for his help in designing homework assignments, and TA Henri Schmidt for trouble shooting and continued development.


HW2 due date postponed to Sept 30. We are also going to move to Gradescope for submissions of HW2 and the rest of the HW going forward. More details will be posted on Piazza on Tuesday 9/20 after lecture.


  • Polina Shpilker's office hours this week will be dedicated to an introduction to using linux, including how to install the conda environment.
  • If you are not able to make these hours, and are having issues either installing the conda environment or using python, please reach out to her via email.
  • Prerequisites: Comp 15 and Math 61. For some of the material, math 70, comp 160 and 135 and Graph Theory are helpful, but we will go over any material that overlaps those courses that we need as we need it.

    Course Text: Networks, Second Edition, by Mark Newman. Oxford University Press. You can rent or buy electronic copies of the text through the Tufts Bookstore.

    Tentative schedule: Subject to change

  • Week1: September 6 and 8: Networks that Arise In data science Graph Theory Background; Centrality and other network measures, part I (Chapter 6 in your text). Scribe notes (Sept 6)

  • Week 2: September 13 and 15: Graph Theory background, review of Dijkstra's algorithm, HW1 due.

  • Week 3: September 20 and 22: Centrality and other network measures, part II, homophily in networks. (Chapter 7 and 8 in your text),

  • Week 4: September 27 and 29: Pagerank and network diffusion, personalized pagerank, HW2 due

  • Week 5: October 4 and 6: Internet Routing, Network Resillience, Cuts in networks, HW3 due

  • Week 6: October 11 and 13: Function Prediction in Biological Networks

  • Week 7: October 18 and 20: Link Prediction in Social Networks, Network Clustering in Biological Networks,

  • Week 8: October 25 and 27: Network Clustering and Community structure, Guest Lecture by Nick Rabb, HW4 due

  • Week 9: November 1 and 3: Preliminary Project Sessions

  • Week 10: (no class November 8 - Friday Schedule), November 10: Generating Random Networks' HW5 due

  • Week 11: November 15 and 27: Spread of Influence in a Social Network, Guest Lecture

  • Week 12: November 22: guest lecture, (no class November 24: Thanksgiving)

  • Week 13: November 29 and December 1: Final Project Presentations: Parts I and II; HW7 due

  • Week 13: December 6 and 8: Final Project Presentations: Parts III and IC
  • Religious observances: Please let me know in advance if I need to arrange makeup classes for religious holiday absences.

    Homework Assignments:

    Please note: if a HW assignment says that it is due in class, DON'T skip the class if you are not finished: there is always an automatic grace period until 9am the following morning, i.e. all homeworks can be turned in slightly late without penalty.

    Homework Instructions and Links to Interesting Papers

    All datasets used in HW assignments

    Handout about final class project

    HW1 (due Thursday, September 15 in class) and here is the Latex source

    HW2 (due Thursday, September 29 in class) and here is the Latex source

    HW3 (due Thursday, October 6 in class) and here is the Latex source

    HW4 (due Thursday, October 27 in class) and here is the Latex source

    HW5 (due Thursday, December 1 in class) and here is the Latex source