Introduction to Information Science

Fall 2014 (2151)

Instructor: Dr. Stephen Hirtle
Office: 2B01 IS Building 
Office Phone: 412-624-9434
Office Hours: Tuesday, 2:30pm - 4:00pm, or by appt.
Class Meets: Thursday 12:00 PM - 2:50 PM, CL 232
GSA: Cristina Robles, 2B03,
Secretary: Mary Stewart, 706 IS Bldg, 412-624-9402

Overview. This course covers the history, academic roots, conceptual structure, and methodology of information science. Explores principles and concepts that underlie information processing, including information theory, models of information storage and retrieval, and human cognition. Basic processes of information systems analysis, design, and development. INFSCI 2000 is recommended as your first course in the MSIS program.

Prerequisite: Less than 12 graduate credits or permission of the instructor.

Required Textbooks

Email.  All email to the instructor about this class should be sent from you Pitt email account or include your Pitt email address. The userid in your Pitt email makes it easier for me to locate your class records. In addition, please put "INFSCI 2000" in the subject line to be read. For example, the subject line might read "INFSCI 2000: Question about project". Email without both of these pieces of information might be deleted by spam filters or routed to a folder to be read at a later date. Email with the appropriate identifier will usually be read within 48 hours of receipt.

Special circumstances.  If you have a disability for which you are or may be requesting an accommodation, you are encouraged to contact both your instructor and the Office of Disability Resources and Sevices, 216 William Pitt Union, (412-648-7890/TTY:412-383-7355) as early as possible in the term. DRS will verify your disability and determine reasonable accomodations for this course.  You should be aware that my office is up a short flight of stairs.  If this problematic, I am happy to arrange a meeting in an accessible location at any time.


Grades will be primarily based on an objective midterm (30%) covering material from the first half of the course, an objective final exam (30%) covering material from the second half of the course, and your participation in a team project (30%). The remaining10% of the grade will come from blog postings and other informal activities. Details of these assignments will be posted on

Schedule (subject to change)

Date   Topic Subtopic Reading (under construction)
8/28 Week 1 Introduction    
9/4 Week 2 History of Information Science   Gleick: Prologue, Ch 1-4
9/11 Week 3 Information Theory   Gleick: Ch 5-7
9/18 Week 4 Document Processing (Prof. Spring) * Gleick: Ch 13-15
9/25   To be announced    
10/2 Week 5 Cloud Computing (Prof. Palanisamy)

Review for Midterm

Dean & Ghemawat, 2008
10/9 Week 6 Midterm Exam Project Teams  
10/16 Week 7 Recommender Systems (Prof. Brusilovsky)



Zittrain: Intro, Ch 1-6
10/23 Week 8 Social Computing (Prof. Farzan) * Zittrain: Ch 7-9, Concl
10/30 Week 9 Cognition   Norman: Chap 1-3


Week 10 Network Visualization (Prof. Lin)   Norman: Chap 4-5
11/13 Week 11 Human Computer Interaction   Norman: Chap 6-7
11/20 Week 12 Organizing Information   Glusko: to be determined
11/27   Thanksgiving Holiday (no class meeting)    
12/4 Week 13 Group Presentations    
12/11 Week 14 Final Exam/Projects Due    

Additional Readings:

Dean, J., & Ghemawat, S. (2008). MapReduce: Simplified data processing on large clusters. Communications of the ACM, 51(1), 107-113.


Last update: September 5, 2014