Rutgers University Student Instructional Rating
(Online Survey)
Ganapathy V
Spring 2016, 01:198:419:01 — Computer Security (Lecture) (multiple sections, 01:198:419:01, 01:198:419:02)
Enrollment= 65, Responses= 64

Part A: University-wide Questions:
Student Responses Weighted Means
No response
Section Course Level Dept
1. The instructor was prepared for class and presented the material in an organized manner. 0 1 4 11 48 0 4.66 4.45 4.32 4.29
2. The instructor responded effectively to student comments and questions. 1 1 7 12 43 0 4.48 4.42 4.32 4.25
3. The instructor generated interest in the course material. 2 0 6 9 47 0 4.55 4.35 4.21 4.09
4. The instructor had a positive attitude toward assisting all students in understanding course material. 2 1 9 16 36 0 4.30 4.28 4.32 4.36
5. The instructor assigned grades fairly. 3 6 11 21 23 0 3.86 4.03 4.16 4.28
6. The instructional methods encouraged student learning. 3 3 8 14 36 0 4.20 4.20 4.10 4.04
7. I learned a great deal in this course. 2 1 7 14 40 0 4.39 4.29 4.19 4.10
8. I had a strong prior interest in the subject matter and wanted to take this course. 0 8 8 17 31 0 4.11 4.15 4.15 3.83
9. I rate the teaching effectiveness of the instructor as: 1 5 5 18 35 0 4.27 4.21 4.13 4.02
10. I rate the overall quality of the course as: 1 3 8 21 31 0 4.22 4.21 4.12 3.96

What do you like best about this course?:

Vinod has made this class easily the most enjoyable one I have ever taken at Rutgers. He comes to class extremely prepared everyday and frequently introduces material from recent news stories, showing that this is valuable information that is still relevant.

The course material was interesting.

The content is exciting.

The material and assignments are really interesting.

I liked how quick the professor went through the material. Other classes often put me to sleep with how slow they go over the material. Also the jokes inserted here and there help liven up the material and wake up drowsy students.

The second part of the course makes the covers topics that are very relevant to the current status of computer security.

Learning about different exploits and attacks. Smashing the stack in HW2.

Break/Secure a system.

The material is very interesting to me.

We were given practical assignments to test our knowledge, and that we were given actual professional journal articles to read to aid in our reading.

The lectures. I really learned a lot more than I thought I would, including actual practical knowledge beyond just theorems or facts.

Being able to apply the material and learn about attacks that have happened.

I enjoyed the two assignments I learned a lot from them.

The professor is very no-nonsense, but encourages learning and answers any question fully. You can really see that he has a passion for this material, and tries to be firm and fair, which is just fine by me.

I liked learning about the math behind computer security.

The constant real world applications of the content we went over

I did like HW 2 , once I got the hang of it. Just learning about different security threats and models was also nice.

Professor is very organized and professional. He presents the course material at a great learning pace, and is able to answer or clarify any difficult subjects in class.

How the information was presented by clearly and by someone that seemed very knowledgable on the subject

Very good lectures. Prepared me for all the exams with minimal studying.

Project work

Professor Ganapathy is very clearly invested in and has a deep understanding of the course material. It makes the class both interesting and instructive.

We learned a lot of interesting things.

The professor.

It taught me a lot of things that I feel are actually really relevant right now.

The hacking concepts

Very rigorous. Engaging lectures and rewarding assignments.

The material is interesting.

Nothing. I felt disconnected immediately from the professor due to his inability to meet with students any other time besides "immediately after lecture", and his policy to not discuss matters on a personal level with students over email alienated me from the course entirely.

Other than the topic being very interesting I enjoyed the fact that the professor kept it as relevant as possible by including new technologies like for example cloud computing.

The hands on nature of projects

The course covered a wide range of material, from mathematical foundations, to hardware, to modern security threats like XSS and SQL injection.

Vinod's enthusiasm for the topics, combined with his well organized course structure and teaching quality.

learned more about the world of computer security

The option to do a project or not. Around the middle of the semester I was to busy to focus on another project and decided to not do it.

Covered a very broad range of topics, professor was very enthusiastic about what he was teaching.

Covers interesting topics

Prof. covered wide range of topics. He was giving real world examples in between. He did his job 100%.

It's a very interesting topic and I expect to work with this in the future.

Professor Ganapathy is knowledgeable and excited about the subject matter. Another professor teaching this course would likely be torturous.

Interesting material. Adequate amount of time in between assignments.

I very much liked the format of presentation he adopted after we left the topic of crypto, where he began by presenting a problem (exploit and how it was being used) and then started talking about defenses against it. Presenting it in that way helped to keep me interested in every lecture.

Fair grading method; easy to get a passing grade as long as you study, but getting a B or higher requires true mastery of the course material

Introduction to security exploits and software

I liked the coding assignments, where I got to implement the theories that we'd learned in class.

If you were teaching this course, what would you do differently?:

Nothing I would change, I think it was set up well.

I'd add more projects.


I would grade the class on a curve, because getting an A in this class is insanely difficult (ie getting one of the questions wrong on the midterm takes away most of your chance of getting an A)

I would make the cryptography section of the course shorter or combined with the practical side presented in the latter part of the course. For example, a specific section of the cryptography material could be presented in one lecture and be followed up with a lecture on the practical uses of the material presented in the previous lecture.

Grade with a curve or at least give partial credit. Not make a ridiculously difficult question worth 30% of the midterm.

Nothing, I think the structure is good.

Release grades for assignments earlier. The midterm grade was returned that afternoon, which was great, but actual assignments took 1-4 weeks.

I would not make one question on the midterm worth like 35% of the whole thing. Also, a lot of people did not do the project because it was only worth 10%. Maybe it should be worth like 20%?

The grade distribution for the problems on the exam and homework assignments were unfair. I would fix that.

The course was overall good so I wouldn't change much.

Nothing, really.

I would assign more homeworks, but with less work. Each homework assignment was helpful, but I felt like it would have been better if it was more spread out.

Change the test so that one extremely difficult question is not worth 1/3 of the total score

Talk a little slower, sometimes moves a little too fast.

One thing would to have small quizzes or clicker questions to engage students in class or recitation.

Maybe break down some of the larger homework into smaller homeworks. And have questions worth a lot of points have multiple parts, to make partial credit easier to get/grade.

More programming exercises, less math and theory homework.


The homeworks were far too challenging

Not move as quickly, I felt like every lecture you barely gave time for anything to sink in, it felt like the entire time everyone was lost as you were explaining something. I would also not put questions on the exams that are not very important practically but are worth almost all of the grade, I think that was more than a little unfair.


Maybe show some videos or news articles about current events. If there's time, haha.

more evenly spread the grade

Less emphasis on number theory which I think is more suitable for a math course. More material on the subjects taught in the second half of the course which I found very interesting.

Everything, starting with being more available for students questions and being more understanding in regards to the difficulty of the course and the unrealistic grading system.

Talk slower and be more mindful of how much I can teach in one class period.


Perhaps spend a bit less time on Buffer Overflows. I realize that our computer architecture class is not very strong here, but Dr. Ganapathy really didn't need to spend half a lecture explaining basic x86 instructions.

Not attempt to make a grad student with no security experience take over the recitation and replace the grad student who does have security experience.

have lecture notes uploaded to sakai

The last and hardest question on the midterm and on a HW was worth over 30%. I would change the percentage to 25%

Make the homeworks a little more related to the lecture material that is currently being taught.

More discussions on current news on security issues.

I would go little bit slowly when explaining hard topics and i would pay more attention while switching topics as there were many topics covered in one lecture.

Easier grading...

Have another exam. Use a grading curve.

I'd consider making the project mandatory (though I know that would be a lot more to grade) as I'm sure it taught those who did it quite a good deal. I also probably wouldn't have put that superman kryptonite question on test 1 though I could see the argument against it. It just kind of felt like it came out of left field.


I would give more clear directions on setting up the VM. I had some problems with that.

In what ways, if any, has this course or the instructor encouraged your intellectual growth and progress?:

Before entering this semester, I had an idea that I would possibly want to pursue a career in software security and this class has reaffirmed that. I now find myself learning computer security in my free time to supplement what I am learning in class.

I think I learned a lot about computer security. Cryptography was hard. Homework assignments were challenging but not impossible.

Encouraged me to explore computer security topics on my own.

Presented the assignment in a way that seemed very challenging and brought me to really research the material.

He mentioned subjects that are current events that I went home and researched to find out the latest security measures and possible defenses. One example of encouraging our intellectual growth is contemplating the benefits and cons of the Apple vs FBI iphone case (he didn't spend much time on it in class, but just mentioned it to us which made us want to look up articles and talk about it in forums)

For the latter section of the course, the material has been much more relevant to our everyday lives and therefore has been significantly more interesting. It is also evident how complex computer security is and how the constant flow of new technologies will cause to question our ideas of privacy and safety.

While I don't plan on pursuing this specific field of computer science professionally or academically after Rutgers, I'm very glad I was exposed to it and have a general sense of the problems and difficulties and solutions thought up over the years, and can use this class as a stepping stool to learn more on my own if I choose to.

Always talks about real world examples, and assignment #2 was great.

Security is scary.

By challenging me with the projects

This course really has you thinking on your toes- answers are not handed to you on a silver platter. Completing this course, besides the obvious of teaching me about computer security principles, has fostered my critical thinking skills and my logic skills, as well.

The howework forced us to seek outside resources, so that helped.

I had to do a lot of additional research in order to complete the assignments

Extra material available to learn more about current threats and such.

I had little interest in the subject prior to taking the course, and as the class progressed found the material to be very interesting.

Providing interesting links and papers in the resources/announcements

It has opened my understanding and sparked my interest to current events related to the topic

Not any way I can think of unfortunately.

The professor often reminded us about the real-world implications of what we were learning and when he saw something happening in the news that related to the subject matter he would make a post or discuss it in class.

It made me interested in computer security. I didn't realize how useful this class was until it actually started.

Lots of related materials


The professor gave a lot of encouragement and tons of resources to go out and explore the vast topic of computer security on our own. The course let me know really just how complex even the simplest security measures get in real life applications and how important it is to preserve that.

We talked a lot about current related events

I really enjoyed learning about security, and it opened my eyes to a lot of topics I would never have explored, and in ways I never imagined.

The prof gave many extra reading material on the subjects.


By encouraging questions Professor Ganapathy made sure that any curiosity was sated.


He consistently sends out links to computer security related news and papers for those who are interested. He also said to try a lot of things at home (with the disclaimer to not do anything illegal)


The material was presented such that I understood the theory, and then got to implement it for a better understanding.

Other comments or suggestions::

Vinod is easily the best professor I have had at Rutgers, and definitely in the Computer Science department. He is upfront about his grading policy, which is ALWAYS updated on Sakai, grades exams in a matter of hours, and posts no harsh restrictions on project guidelines, like many other professors do. I look forward to his classes twice a week, and honestly wish that there were other lectures done by him. He should be a role model which other professors strive to be like. Thanks for a great semester.

Maybe laptops in class. I take better notes when I can type them because I can type faster than I write so I copy more down.

Amazing class!

The only thing I would change about this course is the difficulty of getting an A in the class because it is ridiculously hard to do

This is easily the least forgiving course I have taken in Computer Science. Many students will likely receive grades that do not reflect their actual understanding of the course material due to the no curve policy. While the grades are scaled down, this means that students who receive an A will have to work significantly more than one receiving a B. This grading scheme then causes students to simply give up on studying, as they believe that the hard work will not be rewarded.

It has been a pleasure being in your class, professor. Hope to see you again in my graduate years! -Logan Lautt

Great course!

Although you teach at a great pace during lecture, sometimes we go through too many topics in one class, and it can sometimes feel overwhelming for one lecture.


Prof. Ganapathy really knows the material and understands how to teach it. He easily provides relevant examples and when something is not clear he is able to break it down and articulate it carefully. This is a difficult course, but taking it was more than worth it. It is as simple as this: If you are truly committed to learning the material then prof. Ganapathy is your guy.

I really enjoyed this class!

Having one question on the midterm worth 10% of the total grade was a bit discouraging

Having a single question on the first midterm being worth ~10% of the overall course grade seems a little harsh when the question was designed to be intentionally difficult.

This course needs a new professor.