CS 5970 — Large Project Assignments

NOTE: With a few exceptions (noted below in italics), each part of this assignment, like other assignments in this class, is due at the beginning of the class period. This means that if you are even a minute late, you lose 20%. If you are worried about potentially being late, turn in your completed assignment ahead of time. Do this by submitting it to me during office hours or by sliding it under my office door. Do not send assignments to me through email or leave them in my departmental mail box.

As discussed in the syllabus and in class, a large portion of your course grade will be based on large project. That project involves choosing a topic, writing a paragraph describing that topic, doing a literature search and turning in a list of references, proposing a project, giving status reports, writing code, collecting data, analyzing that data, writing a report, and presenting your results.

The Assignments

Topic Paragraph

The first step in this assignment is to determine your topic. The topic may be any topic listed on the course schedule. Additional topics related to artificial neural networks and/or evolution are also possible, with prior approval. Please consult with me if you have an alternative idea you would like to consider.

Once you have decided on a topic, you are to write a paragraph describing, in your own words, the topic you have selected. (If you are unclear as to what it means to described something "in your own words," please read the University’s web pages on academic integrity, particularly the documents related to plagiarism.) The point of your writing this paragraph is to ensure that you have looked at your proposed topic in enough depth to make a topic selection appropriate for your work in this course.

Your topic paragraph should be approximately 100-200 words in length. (This is a guideline range. Values somewhat outside this range are acceptable. However, if you go much over 200 words, I may take off points for being excessively verbose.) You should submit an electronic copy of your topic paragraph through D2L. Due: Friday, August 28, 5:00 pm.


The second step in this assignment is to conduct a literature search to find publications describing at least two different approaches to the topic you have chosen. (Actually, you could conduct part or all of this literature search while determining your topic. However, you are not required to turn in your list of references until after you have turned in your topic paragraph, so you may conduct the literature search second.) The approaches you decide to cover may include those discussed in the textbook. However, you must find where those approaches were originally published in the primary peer reviewed literature and use those publications for your projects.

You will need to find at least one publication describing each approach. The exact number of publications you use is up to you to determine. If you find a single publication that describes an approach in sufficient detail for you to get a good understanding of how it works, that one publication is sufficient. If you discover that the one publication you have found on an approach is insufficient for you to understand that approach, however, then you'll need to find more publications on that approach or move on to another approach.

The publications you use must be refereed technical publications. These include conference papers and journal articles (whether published in print or on the web) but not popular sources such as magazines (e.g., Discover Magazine) or un-refereed sources (such as most web sites, even for departments or labs). Moreover, conferences or journals used should be professional conferences or journals, rather than student conferences or journals. It is okay if some or all of the authors of your selected publications are students—they often are in professional publications! However, the conference or journal should be one in which professionals regularly publish. If you are in doubt about a possible source, you should check with me before using it.

Turn in complete citations for these two approaches. Here are guidelines for what a complete citation includes.

You should submit an electronic copy of your references before class through D2L. Due: Wednesday, September 28.


The third step in this process is to write a project proposal. Your proposal should extend your topic paragraph by explaining:

Your project proposal should be approximately one to two pages in length. (This is a guideline range. Values outside this range are acceptable. However, if you go much over two pages, I may take off points for being excessively verbose.) You should submit an electronic copy of your topic paragraph before class through D2L. Due: Monday, September 21.

Written Status Report

Once your proposal has been accepted (perhaps with modifications), you should start to carry out your project. To help to ensure that you are on track with your project, you will write up a brief project status report.

This status report should begin with your chosen and approved topic and include all the components required for the proposal (why the topic is interesting, what question or problem your project addresses, how you will attempt to address this question or problem, and what sort of activities you will carry out for your project) and references to at least two different approaches to your topic. In addition, you should explain where you are in carrying out your project activities and what you have learned so far from developing your project and carrying out project activities.

In your status report, be sure to answer the following questions:

Notes on your status report:

You should submit an electronic copy of your status report before class through D2L. Status Report Due: Wednesday, November 11.

Project Report

You will submit both a draft report and a final report for your project. Both versions have the same required contents. The draft report will be graded on a ✓+ / ✓ / ✓– (check-plus/check/check-minus) scheme only and is intended primarily to allow me to provide you with feedback that you can use to improve the quality of your final report. The final report will be point graded.

Your report will be modeled on a technical report that might be published by a laboratory. This will have the same basic structure as a conference paper or journal article but without the fancy formatting or severe page limits. Your report will have the following components:

Note that while all of the components above must be included in your report, they do not necessarily need to be organized into sections this same way. For example, if your approach combines ideas from multiple prior approaches, you might describe the approach in a single section with multiple subsections or, alternately, in multiple sections. As a second example, you might choose to combine your discussion and conclusions into one section or to combine your conclusions and future work into one section. However, deviations from the expected order and division of the document should be justifiable, not gratuitous.

You should submit an electronic copy of your report before class through D2L. Draft Report Due: Wednesday, November 15. Final Report Due: Wednesday, December 10.

Project Technical Presentation

The final step in this project is to present your results to the class. You will do these in the form of a technical presentation similar to the one you will do for the Technical Paper Assignments. The difference here is that this presentation will be of your own work, rather than of someone else’s work.

Students will have the option whether to present their project to the class during the final week of classes (Monday, December 7 and Wednesday, December 9) or during the final exam period (Friday, December 18).

You should submit an electronic copy of your slides before class through D2L and turn in a printed copy at the start of class. Draft Slides Due: Monday, November 23. Final Slides Due: Monday, December 7, 3:30 pm.