Bogdan Simion
Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream


I am an Assistant Professor, Teaching Stream in the Department of Mathematical and Computational Sciences at University of Toronto Mississauga. My teaching strengths lie in sparking student interest into computer science, from introductory programming courses, to exploring more advanced topics in the area of systems and databases.

I graduated from the PhD program in the Department of Computer Science, in the Computer Systems and Network Group, under the supervision of Prof. Angela Demke Brown. My PhD committee included Prof. Cristiana Amza and Prof. Nick Koudas. My thesis focused on analyzing and improving the performance of spatial data processing. In a nutshell, this work focuses on gaining an understanding of the properties of spatial database workloads and exploring avenues for improving spatial query execution within the DBMS engine.

I completed an MASc thesis in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, in the Computer Systems Lab. My advisor was Prof. Cristiana Amza. My thesis focused on parallelization of multiplayer game servers using Software Transactional Memory, and can be found here. The results have also been published in Eurosys 2010.

Previously I have completed a Bachelor's degree at University "Politehnica" of Bucharest, Department of Computer Science and Automatic Control, with a graduation project on Grid scheduling algorithms, supervised by Professors Valentin Cristea and Florin Pop .

Current Teaching - Fall 2021

Past Teaching at UTM

Research Interests

My research interests include:
My PhD thesis topic centered around spatial database systems, focusing on performance optimizations at the system level and architectural level for supporting emerging Big Data application domains.

Current and Past Student Projects:

1. Exploring Common Writing Issues in Computer Science Courses
Students: Niveditha Kani, Rehmat Munir, Francesco Strafforello (co-supervised with Lisa Zhang and Michael Kaler)
This project aims to explore common writing issues in undergraduate CS students with the goal of better developing writing-skills across the curriculum.

2. Student Help Seeking Aspects in an Online Delivery Mode in Introductory CS
Students: Andrew Jiang
This study explores how students seek help and their perception on ability to get help through various channels (lectures, labs, discussion board, office hours, etc.) during an introductory CS course delivered online using active learning pedagogy.

3. Analyzing the Effects of Active Learning Classrooms (ALCs)
Students: Ayesha Naeem Syeda and Rutwa Engineer
Active learning environments have only recently started to be analyzed in the CS discipline, in terms of their effect on student performance. The goal of this project is to understand the impact of the learning space, both in terms of quantitative measures such as student success as indicated by grades, or negative measures such as failure rates or drop rates. We also need to investigate student perception of the learning space in terms of how conducive it is to the learning process.

4. Studying the Group Work Dynamics of Participation in ALCs and traditional classrooms
Students: Ayesha Naeem Syeda and Rutwa Engineer
This work aims to study the ways that students engage with others during active learning problem-solving activities, in relation to their environment. The expectation is that the dynamics of participation and engagement with group work are important factors to fruitful collaboration and implicitly, to the development of the right mental models and problem-solving skills.

5. Active Learning Environments and the Transition to Online
Students: Andrew Siqueira
The goal of this work was to analyze the student perception differences between a traditional learning spaces and an active learning classroom (ALC) in terms of the ability to engage in active group problem-solving, and how this perception shifts when transitioning to online active learning lectures.

6. Studying the Effects of a Help Centre in Introductory Computer Science
Students: Jonathan Leung
Enrollments in introductory CS courses have increased substantially in large academic institutions over the past few years, in part due to the perceived utility of computational skills from incoming cohorts of students. In the face of surging enrollments, instructor office hours simply do not scale in a manner where individualized and sufficient help is possible for a variety of students. Introducing a Help Centre for novice CS students is in part intended to address scaling instructor office hours but more importantly, to provide students with timely help, particularly struggling students who may fall further behind. This project aims to study the benefits of the introduction of a Help Centre, initially piloted in a CS2 course, CSC148.

7. UTAP: TA Application System
Students: Krish Chowdhary and Lance Santiago
This project is intended to revamp our current teaching assistant (TA) application system, in order to facilitate our TA hiring process. The goal is to provide a rich but simple interface for both applicants and faculty/TA coordinators, as well as to streamline some of the key aspects of hiring (e.g., DDAH forms).

8. Discussion Board Analytics
Students: Katarina Chiam, Arnaud Deza, Haocheng Hu, and Vaishvik Maisuria (co-supervised with Michael Liut and Andrew Petersen)
The goal of this work is to analyze historic discussion board participation data and investigating possible correlations of various levels of engagement and kinds of engagement, with student success metrics. Another direction is to develop a machine learning model for generating predictive instructor responses for certain categories of questions that where automated help may be suitable.

Peer-reviewed Publications

My Google Scholar

Pedagogic research publications
  1. Rutwa Engineer, Ayesha Naeem Syeda, Bogdan Simion
    A Qualitative Study of Group Work and Participation Dynamics in a CS2 Active Learning Environment
    ACM Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education, ITiCSE 2021, Paderborn / Virtual Event, June-July 2021
  2. Larry Zhang, Andrew Petersen, Michael Liut, Bogdan Simion, Furkan Alaca
    A Multi-Course Report on the Experience of Unplanned Online Exams
    ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE TS 2021, Virtual Event, March 2021
  3. Andrew Siqueira, Bogdan Simion
    Active Learning Environments and the Transition to Online (poster)
    ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE TS 2021, Virtual Event, March 2021
  4. Arnaud Deza, Haocheng Hu, Vaishvik Maisuria, Michael Liut, Andrew Petersen, Bogdan Simion
    Using Discussion Board Data to Hire Teaching Assistants
    SPLICE workshop at ACM Learning @ Scale conference, SPLICE 2020, Virtual Event, August 12, 2020
  5. Ayesha Naeem Syeda, Rutwa Engineer, Bogdan Simion
    Analyzing the Effects of Active Learning Classrooms in CS2
    ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE) 2020, Portland, OR, March 2020
Systems research publications
  1. Bogdan Simion, Daniel Ilha, Leslie Barron, Angela Demke Brown, Ryan Johnson
    Slingshot: A Modular Framework for Designing Data Processing Systems
    IEEE International Conference on Big Data (BigData) 2015, Santa Clara, USA, November 2015.
  2. Suprio Ray, Bogdan Simion, Angela Demke Brown, Ryan Johnson
    Skew-Resistant Parallel In-Memory Spatial Join
    Conference on Scientific and Statistical Database Management (SSDBM) 2014, July 2014, Aalborg, Denmark.
  3. Bogdan Simion, Daniel N. Ilha, Angela Demke Brown, Ryan Johnson
    The price of generality in spatial indexing
    ACM SIGSPATIAL BigSpatial 2013, November 5-8, Orlando, Florida, USA.
  4. Suprio Ray, Bogdan Simion, Angela Demke Brown, Ryan Johnson
    A parallel spatial data analysis infrastructure for the Cloud
    ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS 2013, November 5-8, Orlando, Florida, USA.
  5. Bogdan Simion, Suprio Ray, Angela Demke Brown
    Surveying the Landscape: An In-Depth Analysis of Spatial Database Workloads
    ACM SIGSPATIAL GIS 2012, November 6-9, Redondo Beach, California, USA.
  6. Bogdan Simion, Suprio Ray, Angela Demke Brown
    Speeding up Spatial Database Query Execution using GPUs
    ICCS/WEPA 2012, June 2-4, Omaha, Nebraska, USA.
  7. Suprio Ray, Bogdan Simion, Angela Demke Brown
    Jackpine: A Benchmark to Evaluate Spatial Database Performance
    IEEE ICDE 2011, April 11-16, Hannover, Germany
  8. Daniel Lupei, Bogdan Simion, Don Pinto, Matthew Misler, Mihai Burcea,
    William Krick, Cristiana Amza - Transactional Memory Support for Scalable
    and Transparent Parallelization of Multiplayer Games
    , EuroSys 2010
  9. Daniel Lupei, Bogdan Simion, Don Pinto, Matthew Misler, Mihai Burcea,
    William Krick, Cristiana Amza - Towards scalable and transparent parallelization
    of multiplayer games using transactional memory support
    PPoPP 2010, Bangalore, India
  10. Bogdan Simion, Catalin Leordeanu, Florin Pop, Valentin Cristea -
    A Hybrid Algorithm for Scheduling Workflow Applications in Grid Environments ,
    OTM Conferences - GADA 2007, Vilamoura, Portugal