Doing a M.S. Project with Professor Calvert
I have certain expectations for students doing projects with me for
their Masters Degree. In the interest of
avoiding painful misunderstandings later on, this
document lays out those expectations and also tells what you can
expect from me. Please read it carefully before you approach me about
working with me.
Requirements for the Project Topic The project will involve
solving a nontrivial problem that is of interest both to you and to
me. The solution will generally involve designing, specifying, and
implementing a program of some sort. In some
cases it may be necessary to develop or learn some theory in order to
come up with an acceptable solution to the problem.
The project must involve approximately three credit hours'
worth of work, a substantial amount of which will be programming.
Note that each credit hour corresponds to approximately 60 hours of
work (a three hour graduate course is generally considered to be three
contact hours plus nine preparation hours per week for 15 weeks), so
the project is not something you are going to be able to throw
together in a weekend. Projects generally take more than one semester
Requirements for Defending
Before I will agree to schedule your defense, I will expect you to:
Please note that these requirements are necessary but not
sufficient; for example, I may ask you to run additional tests,
or add functionality to a program you wrote.
Also, your work will be judged according to my standards, and
not with respect to M.S. projects completed by others in the
past, whether with me or with somebody else.
Write and post on the web a project report that clearly describes:
What problem you set out to solve and your motivation for doing so,
including why it is interesting.
The general approach employed in your solution, and why you chose it.
Exactly what you did to solve the problem. For any code you write, you must
precisely define the program specification,
describe both the overall design and the specific algorithms and data
structures you used, and give evidence that the code you wrote
satisfies the specification.
If you ran experiments you must describe what each was designed to
prove, the setup, the results, and whether it supported your
What you learned in the process, including any unforeseen difficulties
you encountered and how you overcame them.
Any sources of information you used in completing the project and
writing the report, in the form of a
Your report must be precise, readable, thorough, and grammatically
correct. It must be your own words, except where you explicitly quote
other writers (with proper citation, of course).
Convince me that you will present a reasonable defense talk.
Doing this generally involves iterating with me during preparation of
your presentation, and then giving multiple "dry runs" to me and/or
What You Can Expect From Me
I will be available to answer your questions and provide guidance.
Because of other commitments I cannot promise you more than about a
half-hour per week for face-to-face meetings (or an hour every other
week). If we schedule a regular meeting time then you may expect me
to show up on time, and I will expect the same of you. When we meet
face-to-face, you can expect my undivided attention. I, in turn,
expect that you will have made progress and will have substantive
questions to ask and/or results to report (otherwise I may fall
You may contact me via email any time. I will do my best to respond
to your questions within 24 hours, except when I am out of town, which
occurs pretty often.
I will read drafts of your report and presentation carefully and
provide feedback and suggestions in a timely way. The further along
you are in the writing process, the more detailed feedback you can
expect, and the longer it will take me to get back to you.
You are entitled to be treated with respect at all times.
If at any time you feel I am not living up to my side
of the bargain, you are entitled to bring it to my attention without
fear of retribution.
Thu Nov 11 13:40:43 EST 1999