Technical Paper Reviews

Due Monday, April 29, 2002

NOTE: This assignment, like others in this class, is due at the beginning of the class period. This means that if you are even a minute late, you lose 20%. If you are worried about potentially being late, turn in your reviews ahead of time. Do this by submitting them to me during office hours or by sliding it under my office door. Do not send assignments to me through email or leave them in my departmental mail box.

As discussed in the syllabus and in class, those students taking the "grad version" of the course (5973-002), as opposed to the "undergrad version" (4970-001), are required to do an additional assignment. That assignment involves doing a literature search, writing summaries of appropriate technical papers found, making comparisons between these papers, and evaluating the appropriateness of the methods discussed for a particular task. Students not taking this version of the course do not need to complete this assignment.

The assignment.

The topic for your technical papers reviews is software control architectures for multi-robot systems, including distributed robotic architectures and architectures for swarm systems. The application task is a lunar mission to explore lava tubes as potential habitation sites for a lunar colony.

Literature Search

You are to find publications describing five different architectures. These may include architectures discussed in the textbook (e.g., ALLIANCE) but should not be limited to such. You will need to find at least one publication describing each architecture.

The exact number of publications you use is up to you to determine. If you find a single publication that describes an architecture in sufficient detail for you to get a good understanding of how it works, that one publication is sufficient. If you discover that the one publication you have found on an architecture is insufficient for you to understand that architecture, however, you'll need to find more publications on that architecture or move on to another architecture.

The publications you use must be refereed technical publications. These include conference papers and journal articles (whether published in print or on the web) but not popular sources such as magazines (e.g., Discover Magazine) or un-refereed sources (such as most web sites, even for departments or labs). If you are in doubt about a possible source, you should check with me before using it.


For each of the five architectures for which you have found publications, you are to write a summary that includes the main idea behind the architecture and discusses the components of that architecture and how they fit together. You should relate the architectures to concepts from the textbook such as whether they are suitable for use with heterogeneous or homogeneous groups (or both), whether control is centralized or distributed, etc.

Each architecture summary should run from 1.5 to 2 pages in length (roughly 80 characters per line, 50 lines per page).

Please Note: Taking the first line or two from each paragraph in a paper, stringing them together, and changing around a few words here or there to make things read better, is NOT a summary. It is plagiarism -- a form of academic misconduct. Any time you quote a source, you must include the quotation in quotation marks and clearly indicate the source of the quotation. If you find yourself with more than a couple of brief quotes in each summary, then you are quoting too much. To summarize a paper, you need to (1) read it, (2) understand it, and (3) briefly relate its main points in your own words. If you don't have your own words to describe the architecture, that probably means that you don't understand the paper -- you'll need to go back to steps 1 and 2 and visit me during office hours as needed to help you with step 2. (I don't expect most students to have problems understanding the difference between a summary and plagiarism. This message is for those few who do.)


You are to write a comparison the five architectures, pointing out both similarities and differences between them. Again, you should use concepts from the textbook in making these comparisons.

The comparisons of all five architectures to one another should run a total of 1.5 to 2 pages in length (roughly 80 characters per line, 50 lines per page).


You are to write an evaluation of each architecture with respect to the task of exploring lava tubes on the moon using a group of robots. Think of the kinds of features the robots should have and discuss which architectures support which features and to what degree. You should include both your reasoning and your conclusion as to how suitable each architecture is for the task.

The evaluation of all five architectures on this task should run a total of 1.5 to 2 pages in length (roughly 80 characters per line, 50 lines per page).

What to turn in.

As can be computed from the above, your completed reviews should be roughly 10.5 to 14 pages in length. If you can complete this assignment in 10 pages or less, that is fine -- there is nothing wrong with being concise as long as you are being complete. If, however, you run over 15 pages, you are being too verbose and will be penalized. This limit does not include any figures, which are encouraged and may take up any amount of space, nor citations.

Turn in complete citations of these five papers. Here are guidelines for what a complete citation includes.