Special Joint ECE/CS Distinguished Lecture: Title: Teaching Networks via 20 Questions

October 18, 2012
Refreshment at 3, Talk at 3:30pm
Burden Lounge / Nelson Auditorium
Host: Lenore Cowen, Valencia Joyner Koomson


How does Google sell ad spaces and rank webpages? How does Netflix recommend movies and Amazon ranks products? How do I influence people on Facebook and Twitter, and can I really reach anyone in 6 steps? Why doesn’t the Internet collapse under congestion, and does it have an Achilles’ heel? Why does each GB of 4G data cost $10, and how come WiFi is slower at hotspots than at home? How can Skype and BitTorrent can be free, and what’s inside the cloud of iCloud?

These are some of the 20 questions raised in a new undergraduate course created at Princeton: "Networks: Friends, Money, and Bytes." It quantifies foundational ideas in technology, social, and economic networks, and attracts students from engineering, science, and economics. The course’s content cuts across the boundaries of different types of networks without losing domain-specific functionalities. The course's pedagogical approach is "Just In Time": orienting the entire course around 20 Questions about networked life and only introduces the mathematical languages as needed.

I'll discuss what I learned through teaching this course (www.network20q.com) about networking research and curriculum development.


Mung Chiang is a Professor of Electrical Engineering at Princeton University, and serves as the Director of Graduate Studies in Electrical Engineering. His research on networking received the 2012 IEEE Kiyo Tomiyasu Award, a 2008 U.S. Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, a few young investigator awards, and several paper awards including the 2012 IEEE INFOCOM Best Paper. He was elected an IEEE Fellow in 2012. His technology transfer resulted in a few commercial adoptions and a 2007 Technology Review TR35 Award, and he founded the Princeton EDGE Lab in 2009. He serves as an IEEE Communications Society Distinguished Lecturer 2012-2013, and wrote an undergraduate textbook “Networked Life: 20 Questions and Answers.”