MS Thesis/Project Seminar
Instructor: Ivona Bezakova, email: firstname.lastname@example.org (please replace my_initials with ib)
Class meets: Th 6:00-7:50pm, room GOL(70)-3640
Office hours (tentative): Mondays 2-3pm, Tuesdays 11am-12pm, and Thursdays 4-6pm, office 70-3645
1. Course description
The goal of this course is for students to become acquainted with the skills
and practices needed for carrying out research and development projects in
Computer Science, and to create a preliminary plan for completing their own MS
project or thesis. Relevant skills include performing targeted literature
searches, writing technical documents (papers, project reports and theses), and
designing programs (projects) or experiments and/or proofs (theses). Over the
course of the quarter, students will find a faculty advisor who will oversee the
completion of their MS thesis or project, and work with the advisor, the course
instructor, and other students in the course to develop a preliminary research
project or thesis proposal, known as a 'pre-proposal.'
2. Pre-proposal guidelines
A pre-proposal is a 1-2 page document summarizing the following:
Ideally, each of the above items is described in a paragraph. (With some flexibility, of course. For example, the motivation often fits well
with description of the related works.)
Developing a meaningful pre-proposal requires a great deal of effort. Set aside a number of hours each week to work on it and
actively coordinate with your faculty advisor.
- What you propose to work on. This includes a concrete research problem statement or task. For theses,
state also your hypothesis (that you will experimentally test or attemt to theoretically prove/disprove).
- Why you want to work on this problem. Briefly explain the motivation for your work.
- How you plan to accomplish your goals. Spell out strategies/techniques that you plan to use. For example, for experiments,
briefly describe the setup (what is being compared with what, how are the inputs selected, etc.). If your work is theoretical, briefly summarize the
most relevant techniques and how they relate to your task (e.g., linear programming).
- Resources needed to complete your project/thesis (e.g., data and how you plan to gather them, computer/networking requirements, etc.)
- Deliverables of the project/thesis. For example, implementation, data,
- References of previous/related works (about 3-5 references).
Zobel, Justin. Writing for Computer Science, 2nd edition. London: Springer-Verlag, 2004.
For weekly assignments and other updates, follow this
The following items contribute to your grade:
5. Other materials
- Pre-proposal: must be approved by the student's thesis/project advisor and the instructor in order to pass the seminar.
- Pre-proposal "defense": this 5-minute presentation on the pre-proposal is required in order for the instructor to approve the pre-proposal.
- Participation: attendance is mandatory until the pre-proposal has been approved. Active class participation is required: constructively critiquing your peers' works, contributing with weekly updates, etc.
- Project webpage: must be maintained throughout the course of the quarter (including after approving the pre-proposal). More information will appear at the assignments.html website.
- Weekly assignments: must be completed before the start of class each week until the pre-proposal is approved. More information will appear at the assignments.html website.
Professors Zanibbi and Bailey have gathered many useful resources, including LaTeX templates and sample pre-proposals, projects, and theses.
Here are the links to their MS seminar websites: