Honors Program

Thinking about doing honors in Computer Science?  Awesome, read on! (Find a pdf version of this document here.)

 

Overview

The honors program provides an opportunity for an in-depth and independent study of a particular topic or problem within Computer Science. While this program is very demanding, many find it very rewarding as well — honors allows for a deeper understanding of an area of interest, and provides valuable experience in the reading, writing, and presentation of scholarly work. There are a number of types of possible projects, but most involve either original research in Computer Science or the development of an application that makes use of algorithms and techniques from recent papers. All honors projects include a thorough exploration of the primary literature.

Honors students are required to prepare an honors thesis which includes an introduction to their chosen topic or problem, a thorough summary of relevant research, and a detailed discussion of their own contributions. Honors students also give two talks on their work. The first talk is given to the department faculty at the end of the fall semester, followed by a public presentation in the spring. Finally, honors students take a comprehensive honors exam in the spring, which includes both a written and oral component with an external examiner.

 

Eligibility

To apply to the honors program, you’ll need to:

  • Have a GPA of at least 3.3 both overall and within Computer Science.
  • Have completed at least two 300-level courses prior to your senior year.
  • Have at most three additional courses remaining to complete the Computer Science major by the start of your senior year. (Note that honors does not count towards the number of electives required for the major.)
  • Be enrolled and on campus for your senior year. (Depending on your project, you may not need to be on campus for Winter Term, but you are expected to spend January working on your thesis.)

Keep in mind that these are minimum requirements.  Successful candidates have generally finished or nearly finished their major requirements before their senior year, and usually have a GPA above 3.6.  Students also often spend the summer prior to their senior year doing work related to their project, whether that be on-campus research, an REU program, or independent study.

Please note that even strong applications may be denied due to staffing limitations.

 

Project Proposal

You are encouraged to discuss your ideas with faculty in the department to determine whether your proposal is appropriate for an honors project — some proposals may be overly ambitious, while others might be better suited to a semester-long private reading.

Your proposal should include a concrete description of your goals and methods, a timeline indicating when you plan to complete various tasks, and a discussion of some potentially relevant research with a bibliography.  While you aren’t expected to be an expert in the area beforehand, you should demonstrate that you’ve begun digging into the existing work, rather than simply finding a few papers whose titles suggest some relevance to your project.    It is also helpful if you specify your planned course schedule for both semesters of your senior year.

 

Honors Exam

The honors exam is taken shortly after Spring break and consists of an oral and a written component, both of which are administered by a faculty member from another institution. The exam covers material from all required courses. Students are strongly advised to begin preparation for the exam well in advance.

 

Written Thesis

The thesis must be typeset in LaTeX using a template available on the department homepage. Your final document may not exceed 12 pages (excluding the bibliography and appendices). Additional formatting instructions and guidelines may be found within the template. Roughly two-thirds of the research for your thesis should be complete by the end of the fall semester. Winter term and the first half of the spring semester are spent finishing research and writing the thesis. Your thesis is due at the beginning of spring break. You’ll be given feedback in April and have roughly two weeks to do minor revisions.

 

Evaluation

Students are evaluated on the quality of their written exam, oral exam, presentations, and the written thesis. Students who perform satisfactorily in all categories will be awarded honors. Outstanding work may merit the designation of  ”high” or “highest” honors.

 

Timeline

Junior Year
Discuss projects with potential advisors Early Spring semester
Proposals due End of Spring break
Approved projects announced Mid April
Senior Year
Presentations to the faculty Early December
Theses due Beginning of Spring break
Presentations to the department Early April
Honors exam Mid April
Feedback on theses Mid April
Revised theses due Early May

 

Recent Honors Projects

Here are some of the recent honors students and their final project titles.  As you can see, they cover a diverse range of topics.

2013

  • Alex Amlie-Wolf – A Swarm of Salesmen: Algorithmic Approaches to Multiagent Modeling
  • Whit Schorn – Selfish Routing in Transportation Networks
  • Eston Schweickart – The Efficacy of Iconic Data Objects in Information Visualization

2012

  • Aaron Kanter – Location Security in Android Smartphones
  • Claire Nelson – Automatic Generation of Shakespearean Sonnets

2011

  • Brendan Chambers – Identifying Distorted Characters using Knowledge Biased Neural Networks
  • Kriti Godey – Recommending Healthy and Palatable Meal Plans
  • Jason Kimmel – Simple Games on Networks
  • Thomas Ramfjord – Introduction to Audio Watermarking

2010

  • Alexander Boland – Interactive Storytelling
  • Michael Brooks – Real-Time Music Analysis for Musicians
  • Nathaniel Gephart – Developing Security Labs in a Virtualized Environment
  • Zeke Runyon – Automatic Music Similarity Clustering

2008

  • Abigail Corfman – Capella’s Song: An educational game and tool set
  • Scott Erickson – Music Mood Categorization
  • Nicholas Hatt – Segmenting Chinese Text for Fun and Profit
  • Lidiya Ilcheva – Rendering Fur
  • Akshat Singhal – Lenses for the Eye of an Artificial Beholder
  • Nick Winter – A Better Method for Learning Chinese Characters

2007

  • Andrew Bartholomew – Japanese text segmentation: a comparison of different methods applied to Kanji
  • Zahari Shoylev – Instant Radiosity Implementation

I don’t have titles for honors projects pre-2007, but email them to kuperman to have them added here

2006

  • James Ashenhurst
  • Nathan Gerratt
  • Joe Kimmel

2005

  • Chris Eatinger
  • Rebecca Ganetzky
  • Aaaron Pendergrass

2004

  • Erik Talvitie
  • Davod Adamson

2003

  • Jed Davis
  • Ralph Douglass
  • Lincoln Ritter
  • Ben Taitelbaum

2002

  • Ethan Meyers
  • Scott Trimmer

2001

  • Kyle Lomelei

2000

  • Josh Kapell
  • Chris Nicolai
  • Rany Sadek
  • (Sarah Ann Brown in Math)

1999

  • Matt Green
  • Josh Starmer

1998

  • Alexi Barchenkov
  • Dan Hutchings
  • James Kirsch
  • (Mohan Rajagopalan in Math)

1996

  • Mat Heitz
  • Michael Klingbeil
  • Jeremy Schnorbus
  • Willy Seitz
  • Noah Treuhaft

1995

  • Pat Angeles
  • Jim Basney
  • Jesse Berman
  • Jennifer Mankoff
  • Sean Meyer

1994

  • Stefan Agamanolis
  • Noel Cragg
  • Carl Erikson
  • Kennis Koldewyn

1993

  • Reid Gershbein
  • Josh Handley
  • Abhijit Ingle
  • Satish Mehta
  • Kanchan Mitra

1992

  • Dan Bostwick
  • Davd Gochfeld
  • Lars Huttar
  • Carlo Maley

1991

  • Mike Ashley
  • Jim Blandy
  • Erik Erikson
  • Susan Fox
  • Scott Hofmeister
  • Oscar Waddell

1990

  • Mark McAuliffe

1989

  • David King
  • Tom McHugh
  • (Judith Underwood in Math)

Pre-Major students

  • Julia Lawall – 1987
  • Scott Meyer – 1986
  • Jack Sieber – 1986
  • John David Kaemmer – 1985 in Math
  • Peter Todd – 1985 in Math

Last updated May 7th, 2013 by kuperman