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15-453 COURSE PROJECT
The primary goal of this project is to
give you an idea of what it feels like to do research in theoretical
computer science. You are expected to obtain an in-depth understanding of
a specific topic, and be able to hold educated conversations with experts
in the field. You are free to choose your topic (although it must be
approved by the course instructors). The project will count for 15% of
your final grade in this class.
What you need to do
The first step is to choose a topic.
This is not an easy thing to do, so we recommend spending time
interacting with the instructor/TAs as well as researching what topic to
choose. At the bottom of this handout, we present suggestions for places
to look for project ideas. You can take any of our suggestions or work on
a project of your own design (this is recommended if and only if you have
had research experience with a specific problem that has a theoretical
computer science component to it). You cannot choose a topic that
somebody else has already chosen (this will be decided on a first-come
first-serve basis when you talk to the instructors about your topic).
After choosing a topic, you are expected to learn as much as you can regarding your topic, and are encouraged (although not
required nor expected) to make original research contributions. You will
hand in two write-ups of what you have accomplished so far (see below for
- The first write-up will consist mostly of the statement of the
problem that you will investigate with references; subsequent
write-ups should get longer as the semester progresses.
- The final write-up should be a maximum of 10 pages long, and should
be a coherent explanation of the problem and everything you
understand about it.
- At the
end of the semester, you will be required to give a 10-minute talk about your project in class to an audience consisting of other students in
the class, the instructors and graduate students in theoretical
Throughout the semester, you are also
expected to schedule a meeting with an instructor/TA at least once a
month to talk about your project freely. You should be ready to answer
any questions the instructor/TA might have on the topic.
What you need to do
- Choose a
- Learn as
much as you can about your topic
meetings with an instructor once a month
a final 10-minute in-class presentation
- February 7. First progress report due (this should
essentially be an explanation of the problem you will investigate
throughout the semester).
- March 21. Second
progress report due.
- April 25 and April 30 (perhaps also May 2). In-class presentations.
- May 2. Final
project report due.
Suggested places to look for project