The final report is due on Dec 16 by 10:30am in Blackboard. There will be no final presentation, since (a) I want you to have sufficient time and few distractions to prepare your report and (b) you have all given many presentations throughout the semester and have earned a reprieve. :)

Report requirements

You reports should conform to both the form and content requirements below.


  • Please submit in pdf format.
  • Length: 4-7 pages (2000-35000 words). Note that length guidelines are a proxy for depth and breadth of content — the idea is not to fill space, but to report on a chunk of work that is commensurate with works requiring such space to convey their contribution.
  • All reports should have the following section headers:
    • Introduction or Problem Statement: this section will introduce the general area you are working in, providing a high-level view and motivation for working in this space. You should revisit the research questions you identified in your proposals and discuss them here.
    • Methods: this section should describe either the specific methods you are using, or the general methods used in the domain you are working in.
    • Future Work: throughout the semester you have undoubtedly identified many possible future projects and threads you could have pursed if there were more time. Talk about them here!


I expect the variability of student projects to be reflected in the variability of your content. That said, there are some general guidelines everyone can follow and common pitfalls everyone can avoid:

  • Remember to include summary details between high-level motivation and low-level implementation. A common pitfall is for students to jump from the high level motivation to the low-level details of what they did. Between these two points is the medium-level granularity of the general approach: e.g., using technique X to accomplish subtask Y, or reviewing the literature on a subdomain. One method for catching when this is happening is to outline.
  • Make liberal use of diagrams and tables! There were several folks whose midterm reports would benefit from diagrams and tables.
    • Diagrams are especially helpful for conveying dependencies, communicating processes, and heirarchies.
    • Tables are especially useful for highlighting cross-cutting concerns and serve as excellent summaries. The SurveyMan paper contains an example of a feature table; this is an especially common type of table in computing literature.
  • Focus both on the work you've done and laying the groundwork for immediate next actions. I envision your future work sections being more about breadth; in contrast, the "immediate next actions" I'm talking about here are for the cases where you've come up against challenges throughout the semester and now have a better of idea of how to go about answering your questions. Whether you go into industry and need to spec proposal docs, or complete a PhD, many paths will require you to write out proposals. Proposals are not purely speculative; they typically have some chunk of work already done. This work establishes both your credibility as the executer of a plan and the feasibility of the project. If your course project has focused on early-stage research, the bulk of the writing will be about background and next steps. Now that you know more, you can enumerate:
    • Your immediate next steps,
    • Anticipated roadblocks to accomplishing those next steps,
    • Alternative solutions if your immediate next steps don't pan out, and
    • Evaluation strategies for those steps.

Finally, throughout your report, try to apply concepts we've talked about in class. Good luck!