Computer Science
CS 460 Computer Communications and Networking


When writing reports for this class, I strongly encourage you to use some tools that are commonly used in computer science.

  1. LaTeX

    To write papers, I suggest that you use LaTeX, which is a system of text formatting programs. LaTeX is a useful publishing tool in the academic world, as it automatically formats documents in many commonly-used styles. Because LaTeX separates content from style, you will find that it helps you to focus on what you want to say in your report, rather than what your report looks like.

    To help you learn LaTeX, I am including a LaTeX tutorial I wrote, complete with tables, figures, and bibliography. The included examples use the IEEE article and bibliography styles. These styles are typically used for submission to many IEEE conferences. These files include documentation on how to use them, and my examples give you further advice.

    When you write a report for this class, your report can be any length, as long as you thoroughly answer the questions given in the assignment. Please use 11 point type, single spacing, and one column per page.

  2. gnuplot

    To create graphs, you should use gnuplot either directly or through the Python interface If you already have familiarity with Matlab or R, you may use those programs instead. The important part of using these tools is that you should be able to create scripts that generate your plots, so that you can easily and automatically re-generate a plot if you need to make changes. There is nothing more frustrating than creating plots "by hand" in Excel, and then having to redo them when you make a mistake. Since I have experience using gnuplot, I have provided examples of using this package on the code page.

    Some people have reported problems with the Python gnuplot interface. Others would like to use it on the Linux lab machines. In either case, here is how to install it in your own home directory. If you are going to do this on your own machine, uninstall it using your package manager first.

    1. Download the package from SourceForge.
    2. Untar it:

      tar -xzvf gnuplot-py-1.8.tar.gz

    3. Install it

      cd gnuplot-py-1.8
      python install --home=~

    4. Add the following to your Python script:

      import sys

    5. Replace the above path with the path to your own lib directory.

    These web sites may be helpful when learning gnuplot:

  3. You can also get help by starting gnuplot and then typing help.

  4. inkscape

    Where they are helpful, you are encouraged to include your own figures in your reports. I suggest using Inkscape or a similar vector drawing program.