CSCI E-170 Calendar - Fall 2005
The final project is an original research project in which you and a
group of three other people will do something new and then
write about it. Whereas the midterm project was more like a book
report, the final project is more like a miniature product design and
Although it is anticipated that many groups will develop a small
application or demonstration for the final project, this is not a
requirement. You simply have to do something new. You could perform a
thorough analysis of software that you download. You could do a
survey. You could even perform an in-depth thought experiment. But you
must do something new and original.
You have enough time and enough people for the final project that
you can do something substantial. It is anticipated that a final
project could either be a publishable conference paper or be turned
into one with not very much work.
Students are allowed to self-assign into groups of 4 students on a
given topic. Any students who are not able to self-assign by November
29 will be assigned into groups as was done with the midterm project.
Technical Details for Project
The work product for your final project is a 10 page project
report. Because you are actually building or doing something, you may
find that you need to create a website, an application that can be
downloaded, or what have you. However, the paper needs to stand by
itself, and only the paper and your final presentation will be
considered in the assigning of your final grade.
Specifications for the report:
- 10 pages (Note: references and bibliography do count
towards your page count. You should assume that you are writing a
paper for a conference and that the conference has a 10-page limit.)
- No title page; put the title and your group name, at the top of
the first page. You may optionally include the names of those in your
group as well; papers will be posted on the course website.
- Single-spaced, 11 point font.
- Double-space between paragraphs.
- Two columns.
- 1 inch margins between the paper edge and the main text blocks.
- Your group's name and page numbers should appear on every page.
- You may optionally include the names of your team members on the first page,
but this is not a requirement. Final projects will be posted on the course website. If you do not
want your name posted, do not include it on the first page.
The Final Presentation
For this assignment you will also be asked to produce an 8-minute
presentation on your work. Just as the paper is in the spirit of a
confernece paper, the presentation is in the spirit of a conference
presentation. The presentation may be live or it may be pre-recorded
and submitted as a Quicktime or DemoShield movie. There is no need to
purchase any software to produce this "movie" - a slideshow with a --
pre-recorded voice saying "next slide" is acceptable.
Although your final project is about a piece of technology that you
have created, you should not do a "live" demo of the software unless
it cannot be helped. Instead, prepare some screen-shots or video-clips
of the software in use. If possible, it is very nice to create a web
page so that your fellow students can download and try out your
project, but this is not necessary.
Below are some topics that would be worthy of a final project. Please
note that these are suggestions only. You are free to create
For more ideas, you might check out
Project Ideas from 6.857, the MIT course I helped teach in Fall 2003.
- The Harvard PIN.. Analyize the security model of the
Harvard Pin, including how the initial PIN is assigned, how it is
changed, and how it is used for web-based authentication. Build a
website that that authenticates using the Harvard PIN? If you can't,
reverse-engineer the web-based authentication and write about how it
- A Certificate Management System. Construct a system
designed to help people understand and manage the variety of
certificates that are present on their personal computers. Consider
both CA certificates and personal certificates. Compare your system with
the certificate management systems built into Mozilla and Internet
Explorer. What are the strengths and weaknesses?
- An analysis of spam and anti-spam techniques. Review the
spam that you have received and the anti-spam systems available to
stop it. Analyize the strengths and weaknesses of the systems, or
build your own. Do a cognitive walk-through of the various anti-spam
techniques. How does each one succeed or fail from a usability perspective?
- Cookie Control. Create a tool to help users understand
cookies. Apply the tool to websites.
- Build a better tool for visualizing digital signatures.
- Develop of a new module for The Sleuth Toolkit
- Watermarks. Design a new
watermark. Or take a commercially-available watermark and characterize it.
- Digital Rights Management System. Evaluate a DRM. Or hack a DRM. Or perform a
usability analysis of an existing hacking tool. Or perform a user test of music that has been
recorded with iTunes to an audio CD and then re-compressed with and MP3 encoder.
- Money. The other day somebody tried to edit a scanned
dollar bill with PhotoShop and was surprised to see PhotoShop refusing
to manipulate it. PhotoShop referred the user to a website with the
laws regarding working with a scanned image of US currency. According
to the law, it should have been legal. Research this. Find out what's
going on. And figure out how to hack it. But don't counterfeit.