This is a guide to completing your PhD at ASU within the SEFCOM Lab. If you are not a PhD student, not at ASU, and not in the SEFCOM Lab, it is questionable how useful this will be for you.

TLDR of your PhD: publish 3 papers in top-tier academic venues. Guofei Gu says that those top-tier venues are S&P, CCS, USENIX (Security), and NDSS. If you get your name as the first name listed on three papers, published in those confereces, congratulations, you have a PhD.

For some reason that’s not good enough for ASU though, so you have to do some other things too. This blog post series discusses those other things.

The first of the other things is courses. Some are boring, some are interesting. Some are easy, some are hard. They’re definitely much more straight forward than the PhD part of your PhD.

Don’t take any courses without first consulting the area course list

Here are the course areas and courses in those areas:

Area Name
ANS Architecture and Networked Systems
IIS Intelligent and Interactive Systems
DIS Data and Information Systems
SIA Software and Information Assurance
FoC Foundations of Computation
CSE 509: Digital Video Processing   x      
CSE 510: Database Management System Implementation     x    
CSE 511: Semi-Structured Data Management     x    
CSE 512: Distributed Database Systems     x    
CSE 515: Multimedia and Web Databases     x    
CSE 520: Computer Architecture II x        
CSE 522: Real-Time Embedded Systems x        
CSE 530: Embedded Operating Systems Internals x        
CSE 531: Distributed and Multiprocessor Operating Systems x        
CSE 534: Advanced Computer Networks x        
CSE 535: Mobile Computing x        
CSE 536: Advanced Operating Systems x        
CSE 539: Applied Cryptography       x  
CSE 543: Information Assurance and Security       x  
CSE 545: Software Security       x  
CSE 546: Cloud Computing          
CSE 548: Advanced Computer Network Security       x  
CSE 550: Combinatorial Algorithms and Intractability         x
CSE 551: Foundations of Algorithms         x
CSE 552: Randomized and Approximation Algorithms         x
CSE 555: Theory of Computation         x
CSE 556: Game Theory with Applications to Networks         x
CSE 561: Modeling and Simulation Theory and Applications       x  
CSE 563: Software Requirements and Specification       x  
CSE 564: Software Design       x  
CSE 565: Software Verification, Validation and Testing       x  
CSE 566: Software Project, Process and Quality Management       x  
CSE 569: Fundamentals of Statistical Learning and Pattern Recognition         x
CSE 570: Advanced Computer Graphics I   x      
CSE 571: Artificial Intelligence   x      
CSE 572: Data Mining     x    
CSE 573: Semantic Web Mining     x    
CSE 574: Planning and Learning Methods in AI   x      
CSE 575: Statistical Machine Learning   x      
CSE 576: Topics in Natural Language Processing   x      
CSE 577: Advanced Geometric Modeling I   x      
CSE 578: Data Visualization   x x    
CSE 579: Knowledge Representation and Reasoning         x

You will take 1 course in each of the 5 areas: breadth.

You will also take 2 more (3 total) courses in 1 area: depth.

Thats it. If you take more than 7 of the courses on this list, you’re doing something wrong.

If you’re transfering in graduate credits from outside of ASU: depth transfers, but breadth does not. Who knows why.

Talk to people in the lab, or other CS students to figure out what courses are easy or interesting, or whatever it is you’re looking for. Don’t have super high expectations though. Fortunately the courses have very little to do with your PhD, as they definitely are not 3 top-tier papers.

I took:

  • Architecture and Networked Systems: CSE 530 - Embedded Operating Systems Internals, CSE 531: Distributed and Multiprocessor Operating Systems
  • Intelligent and Interactive Systems: CSE 578: Data Visualization
  • Data and Information Systems: CSE 572: Data Mining
  • Software and Information Assurance: CSE 539: Applied Cryptography, CSE 545: Software Security
  • Foundations of Computation: CSE 556: Game Theory with Applications to Networks

Unfortunately, I took them a while ago, and almost certainly different people are teaching them in different ways. You’ll also note that while I took 7 courses, I did not reach “depth” in any area.

This brings me to my next point: everything in your PhD is negotiable. Some policies are easy to appeal than others, and I certainly would not encourage you to intentionally go down the appeal path, but in some cases it makes sense. In my case, I took I topic courses CSE 591 Topic: Automatic Binary Code/Software Analysis and CSE 591 Topic: Computer Security: Techniques and Tactics with Yan and Tiffany respectively. I appealed to have the first course count towards my depth requirement. It’s an easy argument: the course focused on several cutting edge cybersecurity topics, with multiple projects applying those concepts. Even still, getting an appeal through requires trudging into the ASU bureaucratic system, and you want to avoid that system as much as you possibly can: it’s annoying. Possible, but annoying.

After these 7 courses, you still need more credits, you just won’t be getting them from that course list. You need:

  • Research (18 credit hours)
  • Electives and Additional Research (33 credit hours)
  • C8luminating Experience (12 credit hours)

You will take:

  • 24 credits of CSE 792: Research
  • 12 credits of CSE 799: Dissertation
  • 18 credits of CSE 590 / CSE 790: Reading and Conference
  • 9 credits of CSE 691 Topic: Current Topics in Cybersecurity

TODO: this blog post is under construction.