Ethics, Fairness, Responsibility, and Privacy in Data Science Spring 2020

This course takes a technical approach to exploring societal issues of ethics, fairness, responsibility, and privacy related to the collection, use, and generalization of data. The course introduces fundamental techniques related to data acquisition, data cleaning, sampling, statistical modeling, experimental design, feature engineering, and modeling with machine learning. It then explores the problems that arise in different ways of performing those tasks, the fairness and bias of machine learning models, data visualizations, and user interfaces. In addition, the course covers anonymization and deanonymization, conceptions of privacy from a number of perspectives (statistical, legal, and philosophical), and compliance with contractual or legal requirements around data. The course concludes by discussing current controversies around the use and misuse of data. Through both programming assignments and discussions, students who complete the course will learn how to design systems that are inclusive and respectful of all data subjects.



Office Hours

Course Information

Prerequisites CMSC 11900 or CMSC 12300 or CMSC 21800 or CMSC 23710 or CMSC 23900 or CMSC 25025 or CMSC 25300 (or equivalent with permission of the instructors)
Lectures Lectures will be held 3:30pm - 4:50pm Tuesdays and Thursdays on Zoom and will be archived on Canvas for anyone unable to attend the synchronous lecture. Because we will have in-class discussions, we encourage attendance at the synchronous lectures. We are cognizant that time zones and logistical constraints concerning internet access and space may prevent students from attending lecture synchonrously, so you will not be penalized in any way if you are unable to do so for those reasons.
Discussion Sections We will be holding occasional (optional) small-group discussion sections on Zoom. Students will sign up for a section once the course begins. The intent of these sections is to give students the opportunity to get to know their instructors better by discussing key topics and applications related to the course. Attending these discussions is optional and will not impact your grade. Material covered only in these discussions (and not in lecture) will not be included on assignments or reading responses.
Textbook We will not be using a textbook.
Coursework The coursework for all students consists of eight programming assignments, nine short responses (2-4 paragraphs) to weekly readings, and a course project. The course project will be conducted individually, although students will be grouped in clusters of similar projects for check-in meetings with the instructors. There are no exams.
Communication We will update the course schedule regularly throughout the course. All programming assignments and reading responses will be distributed and collected on Canvas.

We'll use Campuswire for general discussion and questions about course material. We will use Zoom for all lectures, which will be recorded and posted on Canvas (on the Panopto tab) afterwards. We will also use Zoom for all office hours and discussion sections.

Please try to keep all course-related communication to Campuswire rather than email to facilitate coordination among the course staff. If you need to reach out to the instructors (e.g., pertaining to an illness or other events that might be impacting your performance in class), please make a post on Campuswire visible only to the instructors.
Submission of assignments The eight assignments, nine reading responses, and course project will be collected via Canvas. Reading responses will typically be due at 11:59pm on Monday evenings. Programming assignments will typically be due at 11:59pm on Wednesday evenings.
Zoom We expect your interactions via Zoom to be consistent with an in-person class experience. Respect the people you're working with. Enter the Zoom meetings muted if possible (pay careful attention to this if you are calling from a phone), and unmute to speak. Feel free to either interrupt the instructor or raise your hand using the "raise hand" button if you'd like to ask a question or comment on what was said. If you would rather not unmute yourself to ask a question, please feel free to use Zoom's messaging feature to either send the question to the full class ("everyone") or just to whichever of {Blase, Raul} is not presenting that day. Both instructors will attend all classes, and the instructor who is not presenting will be tasked with asking any questions that come in over the Zoom chat interface.

We encourage students to have their video on since it helps to better replicate the classroom experience. However, no one is required to have their video on, and you may choose not to do so for any reason, ranging from logistical difficulties to preference.

Note that in the settings page on the Zoom website, you can change the name automatically assigned to your Zoom profile. You don't have to go with whatever was assigned if you prefer a different name. If you have preferred pronouns, you can include them after your last name; you'll see an example of the instructors doing this. If you set a name that can't be easily matched to the name on record with the University, please let us know so that we don't inadvertently disconnect you from the lecture.

Our Zoom class meetings will be recorded and saved to the cloud/Canvas to allow students in this class to review the discussion, and especially to allow students who can't attend lecture synchronously the opportunity to benefit from class. We do not intend for these recordings to be available to anyone other than class participants, nor available after the quarter. However, we don't have control over what others attending the class will do (e.g., making a recording). If you have FERPA concerns, please mask yourself accordingly (e.g., by turning off video and using an alias).

Note that we have configured Zoom to require that you be signed into a Zoom account to access our Zoom room. Also note that all times on this page refer to the time in Chicago (US Central time).

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Recording policy (UChicago-wide) As the University temporarily transitions to a remote teaching and learning environment, instructors and students have asked for guidance on the recording of course sessions. Instructors have the discretion to record course sessions, except when recording is required to meet the needs of students granted an accommodation by the Office of Student Disability Services. Recordings and transcripts will be made available to students in the relevant course, the instructor, and other necessary University officials. Recordings in which students are personally identifiable will be managed in accordance with the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA).

This time-limited policy has been implemented to effectively deliver a remote education while safeguarding privacy and protecting rights in courses and instructional materials. Below is an acknowledgment for students designed to govern the use of any recordings and provide instructors and students with guidance on the use of instructional materials.

By attending course sessions, students acknowledge that:
A. They will not: (i) record, share, or disseminate University of Chicago course sessions, videos, transcripts, audio, or chats; (ii) retain such materials after the end of the course; or (iii) use such materials for any purpose other than in connection with participation in the course.
B. They will not share links to University of Chicago course sessions with any persons not authorized to be in the course session. Sharing course materials with persons authorized to be in the relevant course is permitted. Syllabi, handouts, slides, and other documents may be shared at the discretion of the instructor.
C. Course recordings, content, and materials may be covered by copyrights held by the University, the instructor, or third parties. Any unauthorized use of such recordings or course materials may violate such copyrights.
D. Any violation of this policy will be referred to the Area Dean of Students.
Late policy We will accept the eight assignments and nine reading responses up to 24 hours late with a 15 point grade penalty. Assignments more than a day late will not be accepted without a previously approved extension.

Of course, in exceptional circumstances related to personal emergencies, serious illness, wellness concerns, family emergencies, and similar, please make the course staff aware of your situation and we will do our best to find a mutually agreeable solution. We will be more lenient than normal in granting extensions this quarter due to the complexities and impacts of COVID-19.
P/F Grading There is a special grading policy in place for Spring 2020 in which students majoring or minoring in Computer Science may petition the CS major or minor advisor to allow P/F grading in up to two classes taken during that quarter. If you would like P/F grading for this course, please let Blase and Raul know on Campuswire by the end of week 9, when the petition is due with the major or minor advisor. Students taking this course P/F will receive a P if their work would have earned them a grade of C- or higher.


Your course grade will be calculated as follows:
Programming Assignments (8) 64% (8% each)
Reading Responses (9) 18% (2% each)
Course Project 18%

Academic Integrity Policies

The University of Chicago has formal policies related to academic honesty and plagiarism, as described by the university broadly and the college specifically. We abide by these standards in this course. Depending on the severity of the offense, you risk being dismissed altogether from the course. All cases will be referred to the Dean of Students office, which may impose further penalties, including suspension and expulsion. If you have any question about whether some activity would constitute cheating, please feel free to ask. In addition, we expect all students to treat everyone else in the course with respect, following the norms of proper behavior by members of the University of Chicago community.

Student interactions are an important and useful means to master course material. We recommend that you discuss the material in this class with other students. While it is acceptable to discuss assignments in general terms, it is not acceptable to turn in someone else's writing or code (or fragments thereof) as your own. When the time comes to write down your answer, you should write it down yourself from your own understanding. Moreover, you should cite any material discussions or written sources, e.g., "Note: I discussed this exercise with Jane Smith." If one student "helps" another by giving them a copy of their assignment, only to have that other student copy it and turn it in, both students are culpable. If you have any questions about what is or is not proper academic conduct, please ask an instructor. (This description of academic honesty is derived in part from those of Stuart Kurtz and John Reppy).


If a personal emergency comes up that might impact your work in the class, please let the instructors know in a Campuswire post visible only to the instructors so that the course staff can make appropriate arrangements. University environments can sometimes be very overwhelming, and all of us benefit from support during times of struggle. You are not alone. There are many helpful resources available on campus and an important part of the college experience is learning how to ask for help. Asking for support sooner rather than later is often helpful. If you or anyone you know experiences any academic stress, difficult life events, or feelings like anxiety or depression, we strongly encourage you to seek support. The University of Chicago's counseling services are here to support you. Consider also reaching out to a friend, faculty or family member you trust for help getting connected to the support that can help.

If you or someone you know is feeling suicidal or in danger of self-harm, call someone immediately, day or night:
• Student Counseling Urgent Care: (773)702-9800 or in person.
• National Suicide Prevention Lifeline: 1-800-273-8255