Coming Up With a Thesis/Dissertation

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chever
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19 Sep 2008, 11:38 pm

For those of you who hold master's and/or doctorate degrees, or are on a graduate track, how did you do it? I had an idea I wanted to do my master's thesis in Applied Mathematics on, but several teams already used it. (Briefly, it was about improving traffic flow through probabilistic methods.) Before that, I wanted to apply the same methods to generating music automatically, but then I found out someone already did that in the fifties. (Google Computer Cantata.) I'm stumped. What am I going to do?

Granted, I'm a sophomore now. I have about three years to get my s**t together. But I want to get a head start on everything. I don't perform well in school unless I have prior knowledge of the given field (i.e., I very rarely learn anything in class). So I need to start planning now.

The other thing is that I tend not to propose problems. I wait for people to come to me with problems, and then solve them. How can I do that for my thesis (maybe Fulbright scholarship)?


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Sedaka
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20 Sep 2008, 12:38 am

Not sure about Math... But for science, you have to find faculty who do research in your area of interest. You can either A) jump in on one of their ongoing/upcoming projects (most likely thing that happens) or B) have your own idea but tailor it so it's within the advisor's expertise so he can use his grants to help fund you until you get your own funding (which is why option A is more common. Funding is a b***h... especially at the MS level).

How funding for math degrees works... I have no clue. I imagine it's similar though. Find ongoing research that interests you and that your ideas would compliment... prior to enrolling in a university. Don't pick the school; pick the research.

At any rate, at the graduate level, you have to write admission essays directed toward what studies you're interested in. They're looking for students who know what they're interested in (even loosely)... and it should be within a field that the school can further your education in.

Good luck.


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DNForrest
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20 Sep 2008, 12:56 am

Fortunately you have three years to come up with it, but I'd suggest looking into as many current journal articles as you can, and find something from which you can go off on a tangent.

For my own thesis/dissertation subject for when I go into grad school in January, I'm going on either of two routes, both are based off of things that were mentioned maybe once in passing by my professors. The first was at the end of my junior year, about an odd thing that happens when you extrude a certain plastic at a range of flow rates at a given temperature that hasn't been figured out in the past three decades. The second's from halfway through my senior year, and would pretty much just be coming up with non-petroleum based plastics and characterizing their processing properties/techniques, then patenting the hell out of them (sorry, I'm greedy).



chever
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20 Sep 2008, 1:17 am

Holy s**t, that's ambitious

See, I need to learn a lot more about mathematical modeling before I can come up with anything really good. (My BS will be in Computer Science, not Applied Math.) Fortunately I'm learning about linear programming and diff eqs early, plus I'll hopefully be able to do more with Markov chains pretty soon, so the toolbox should round out nicely by then.

(uh huh huh ... 'tool')


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donkey
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20 Sep 2008, 3:22 am

Im a vet.
i never had a yearning or a planning to be a vet, i just went to university and became a vet.
people tell when they hear that im a vet the classic line " oooh i have always wanted to be a vet since i was 8 years old"

some do make this decision and become a vet, some dont, point is...........how many people now, who are adults will make a career decision based on something an 8 year old suggests?

some people are lucky and know what they want and persue it form an early age and become successfull.
these people are rare.

i suggest go through and get a degree in something, anything....until you decide what it is you enjoy and like.
wait untikl you find "yourself" and then you can branch into a different field.

i get the gist from your post that you are unsure what to do and seem to be putting a lof of pressure on yourself to chose the lifelong carrer choice....NOW.
you dont have to do this to yourself.


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LabPet
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20 Sep 2008, 4:06 am

In actuality, concentrate on your interests/research; the thesis/dissertation evolves from there. I knew already my direction and had/have intense curiosity/interest coupled with motivation and discipline.

Those who exclusively think about "What shall I 'write' about?" are deluding themselves - this is backward thinking. Concentrate and focus on what you know - your passion. Then it flows......as it should be.

I am at least OC and this is required for those of us in science &/or math. In honesty; don't concetrate so much on your grades or impressing someone - this is at least disingenuous.

Sedaka mentioned funding - yes. However, your academic committee ought to be strong enough to acquire this based upon their merit. You follow in turn. Choose your mentor(s) and let them guide you. You must be suited for your department! Align yourself with those faculty who have interests parallel to your own. They guide - you follow with respect and LEARN. The rest does come.

For me, I must try to focus my interest(s) so I'm not overwhelmed. There is too much to learn.

1stly, based upon guidance from your academic committee: What is your hypothesis? You'll never have one but all your research projects/writings ought to be aligned so there is a step-wise accumulation. Read current peer-reviewed science journals - everything you can get! Follow your advisor(s) - they know! If you're genuinely interested in their science (yes, it shows), and them, they'll impart their knowledge into you. This is a gift - let them teach you and follow what is current. Know the history of your interest(s). Then put the pieces together. Creativity flows and cannot be induced. Be certain you have a strong academic base! Diversity in your science/math - you cannot learn too much.

Sadly, I've met quite a few students who just read what they're supposed to, then close the book. True, they might get the grade but they've missed the point. Don't just go for funding - if you show real potential you'll be noticed.


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Sedaka
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20 Sep 2008, 9:39 am

I agree with labpet... you don't have to bring a ready-made thesis to the table. in science, a lot of your first couple yrs is spent rotating through labs at the uni of you program, so you can get a feel of what each lab is like and decide which lab you'd like to permanently take residence in. it takes a while to get a thesis going so don't feel like you have to have the kinks worked out. just know what available research interests you at any university and think on it.... have intelligent things to say about it... and once you start immersing yourself in it (during your program after you're admitted) you'll find your place.


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chever
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20 Sep 2008, 11:32 am

donkey wrote:
some people are lucky and know what they want and persue it form an early age and become successfull.
these people are rare.


Well then I'm rare.

donkey wrote:
i suggest go through and get a degree in something, anything....until you decide what it is you enjoy and like.
wait untikl you find "yourself" and then you can branch into a different field.


I'm not someone who wants or indeed needs to 'find himself'. And I can't afford to be indecisive.

donkey wrote:
i get the gist from your post that you are unsure what to do and seem to be putting a lof of pressure on yourself to chose the lifelong carrer choice....NOW.
you dont have to do this to yourself.


I want to be a v v good engineer with a little house in Khon Kaen or something, that's what.

LabPet wrote:
I am at least OC and this is required for those of us in science &/or math. In honesty; don't concetrate so much on your grades or impressing someone - this is at least disingenuous.


I've pulled A's and B's my entire life and I don't want to stop now. I need a solid academic record, especially if I want to do graduate work at a really prestigious university. Like, say, Stanford.

LabPet wrote:
Sadly, I've met quite a few students who just read what they're supposed to, then close the book. True, they might get the grade but they've missed the point.


Well, I'm the opposite. That's why my grades have declined a little. I don't like a lot of current textbooks. They tend to lack brevity and sometimes don't have the theoretical background I might want to read, etc.. For instance, I only really learned about advanced calculus techniques (integration by parts, partial fractions, L'Hopital's rule, etc.) after I was done with that s**t in school because the text and teaching method didn't work for me. So I have to read different texts and follow my own path in order to learn. And if I do that in advance, I can breeze through pretty much any course with an easy A.


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Last edited by chever on 20 Sep 2008, 11:47 am, edited 1 time in total.

donkey
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20 Sep 2008, 11:44 am

ok dude,
when you say things like, you need to get your sh*t together and you need to start planning now. i would infer from this that
you are putting tremendous pressure on yourself to DO SOMETHING, ......ANYTHING.

while your correct in the assertion that you cant afford to be indecisive, this decision cannot be made in a vacuum. so the question would be: can you afford to be so decisive now and make the wrong decision?

while it would appear that im am being argumentative i would like to assist and end by saying.

if you have to ask for help then you dont know what you want to do. ( and by inference you could highly likely make an incorrect decision)
if you dont have to ask for help...then you know.

Im AS and i am in a similar postion to you, im doing a Masters and have just chosen a dissretation topic.

i went through a year of shifting topics, asking and rationilising just like you.

i am aware that it can appear that AS are being argumentative or get insulted/offended easily.
i am neither, please take it or leave it, but please dont get annoyed with it.


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chever
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20 Sep 2008, 11:49 am

I know what you mean

Forgive me for being terse


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donkey
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20 Sep 2008, 12:53 pm

ok, no forgiveness required.

i hope it works out for you.


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LabPet
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20 Sep 2008, 3:05 pm

chever - I think you're doing fine. Quite obviously you're very motivated and love what you do. I don't know of any grad student (& above) that doesn't have complications and difficulties! Everyone does. Maybe you're like me in that you're too conscientious? I am very hard on myself and push. Do you have a good mentor? Or one you emulate? They can help with these quandries. I've become so emersed in what I'm thinking/doing I forget to sleep. I've collapsed from exhaustion. Hope you can just do this in steps.....(Lab Pet likes l'Hopital's Rule too)!


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chever
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20 Sep 2008, 5:36 pm

I love what I do

But haven't collapsed from exhaustion (yet)


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Mutanatia
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25 Sep 2008, 6:02 pm

A bit off topic, but...

I can't help you so much on Computer Science, but I CAN tell you what my thesis was: "The Coup of Ngo Dinh Diem in Vietnam." Basically, I was able to say what a bad president JFK was :-p