Rambles around computer science

Diverting trains of thought, wasting precious time

Mon, 02 Oct 2006

Some thoughts and tips about Part II Projects

Part II projects are a decidedly tricky part of the Tripos course, and it's easy to unwittingly make mistakes early on which really compromise your chances later. It's also the case that the Lab's official advice, as contained in the "pink book" and meted out at the Project Briefing, is incomplete and in some cases misleading. Although much of it is good advice, a very few points are (in my humble opinion) not so good.

As someone who, despite being fairly conscientious and (I like to think) fairly competent, ended up with a decidedly average project mark when I took Part II in 2005, I've written up a few pieces of hard-learnt advice. Please don't take them as gospel: if you follow them and subsequently aren't as successful as you hoped to be, I won't be held responsible for your perceived failure. Nevertheless, I hope they're useful.

I hope some of the above proves helpful. If you have any questions, comments or disagreements, please contact me.

(You might cynically wonder why, after all these pearls of supposed wisdom, I'm not suggesting any project ideas this year. I guess it's because I consider finding suitable ideas a hard problem, and not one to which I'm prepared to claim any good solutions right now. Maybe next year....)

[Update, 2008-08-15: thanks to the netos list for a productive discussion about these topics. And this year, I have even put forward some suggestions, found on this page!]

[Update, 2011-10-13: Andrew Moore supplies this very helpful set of notes from his duties as examiner in 2011! It's worth reading ahead of time, but arguably even more useful when writing up---see my later blog post about that.]

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