Information for Prospective Students

Information for Prospective Students Planning to Write Their Thesis with Us

  1. Getting Started.
    The most important thing is to find a topic that fits your specific interests in the best way. Therefore, we will be happy to offer you a selection of potential topics that are individually tailored towards your interests. We can offer theses in the areas of visual computing, mathematics, computer science, and computers and communication. These can be bachelor's theses, master's theses, and theses for prospective high school teachers.
    If you are interested in writing your thesis in our group, please send an e-mail to Joachim Weickert. You should tell him which of our classes you have already attended and which are your broader areas of interest. For a bachelor's thesis, we expect that you have participated in our classes on ''Image Processing and Computer Vision''. For a master's thesis, we also expect your participation in ''Differential Equations in Image Processing and Computer Vision''.
    Joachim Weickert will then make an appointment with you and offer several potential topics to you. Everything is open, and you can choose freely without any obligations.
  2. Bachelor / Master Seminar.
    Many examination regulations require a so-called bachelor or master seminar. In our case this is a short talk (about 15 minutes) in our group seminar where you present the problem and some first ideas how you would like to solve it. It's at the initial phase of a thesis (a few weeks after you have decided on the topic), not towards the end. It is your responsibility to contact your supervisor in order to make an appointment for this seminar.
    After you have submitted your thesis, it is also common to present its results to our group in another talk (30 minutes, see below).
  3. Registration.
    You should also contact your supervisor to register your thesis. This registration must take place at the beginning of the thesis, typically when you give the bachelor / master seminar. We will not accept late registrations shortly before submitting a thesis. The deadlines are for you, not for us: Having a deadline helps you to work in an efficient way.
  4. Citations and Scientific Ethics.
    In science it is extremely important that you acknowledge all sources and give fair credits to other researchers. A reader of your thesis must be able to tell what was state-of-the-art from what you have done. If you have received some code or code fragments, this must be clearly stated in your work. If you use scientific results from others, you have to cite them in this context (and not somewhere else). Literal quotations should be kept to a minimum and must be put in quotation marks. Also if you use images and drawings from others, you have to state their origin. Please take these things very seriously and do not try any plagiarism. There is a high risk that this will be discovered and you fail.
  5. Source Code.
    Your code should be written in well-structured C, using not more than 80 characters per line, with English comments. We actually recommend to write the comments before the code. Readability is more important than squeezing the last percent of efficiency out of your code by doing cryptic things. Here are two sample programmes that provide a number of useful routines for greyscale and colour images: frame_grey.c and frame_colour.c .
    Please include a CD or DVD with your code in the copy of your thesis that will be passed on to your supervisor, but not in the other three copies.
  6. Foreign Code.
    If you have received code from us, you may not use it for any other purpose than your thesis. In particular, you are not allowed to pass it on to others or to use it commercially.
  7. Meetings with Your Supervisor.
    If you prefer regular meetings with your supervisor, let him or her know. If we do not hear anything from you, we assume that you are doing fine. Thus, make sure to consult your supervisor in case of problems that you cannot solve by yourself. On the other hand, please try to work as independently as possible. If you need advise for every tiny little thing, you cannot expect a top grade.
  8. Appointments.
    Supervising many students is a real pleasure, but also time-consuming. Thus, if you make an appointment with your supervisor, make sure to be there in time, since this person has allocated this time slot specifically for you and might be very busy. If you cannot make it to an appointment, let him/her know as soon as possible.
  9. Keep it Simple.
    Science always aims at finding the simplest models that explain the world or do a specific job. Therefore, you should always try the simplest ideas first. If they work, then it's perfect. Albert Einstein once stated: ``Any intelligent fool can make things bigger, more complex, and more violent. It takes a touch of genious - and a lot of courage - to move in the opposite direction.''. Also Antoine de Saint-Exupery wrote: ``Perfection is achieved, not when there is nothing more to add, but when there is nothing left to take away.''
    Before testing your methods with the most complicated real-world images, you should always check first if they meet your expectations with very simple synthetic images. Simple test images are also highly useful to localise bugs in your code. For instance, with a disk-shaped structure you can easily check the rotation invariance of your filter. You will be surprised to learn that we have achieved some of our deepest scientific insights by analysing algorithms for images of size 2 by 2 pixels.
  10. Make Sure That Your Algorithms Have Converged.
    We have seen extremely many cases where iterative algorithms have been stopped too early, and the students have drawn inappropriate conclusions from results that have not converged yet. Please do not repeat this mistake. And no, using 100 iterations is not a good stopping criterion. If you solve linear of nonlinear systems of equations iteratively, it is recommended that you make sure that the norm of your residual has decreased by a specified factor, e.g. 0.00001.
  11. Good and Bad Results.
    It is very important for us to see how you approach scientific problems. As scientists we know that some ideas may fail. Do not worry about this: Even with bad results you can get a good grade if these results are obtained in a thorough scientific way and you understand why things fail. On the other hand, you can also get a bad grade with good results, if you have no intuition and if all ideas go back to your supervisor.
  12. Time Schedule.
    You should reserve plenty of time to write down your results. For a bachelor's thesis, four weeks is a typical time span, and for a master's thesis we recommend to reserve six weeks. In can be helpful to write down your intermediate results already when you obtain them: Writing down things often helps to discover remaining problems. Towards the end of your thesis, it is better to consolidate and write down your existing results than trying new things that you cannot finish properly.
  13. Draft Versions.
    If you want that your supervisor reads your draft before you submit it, this is fine but please allow him/her sufficient time. Moreover, please make sure that these drafts are mature, and do not misuse your supervisor for correcting your typos unless you want him/her to get a bad impression of you. Please use a large font size (12 point, see below).
  14. Language.
    For us it does not matter if you choose English or German, but it should be a language that you master. If you think that this is German, make sure that you use the correct translation of scientific expressions from English. For instance, "anisotropisch" is not the German word for "anisotropic". In case you would like to pursue a scientific career, it can be recommendable to use English, since more people can read your results and it is easier to publish them. Independent of the language, you should write in a clear and direct way and avoid long sentences. Nobody expects you to write like Shakespeare or Goethe. In particular, there is no need to introduce more than one idea per sentence.
  15. Size Does Not Matter.
    No, there are no guidelines how many pages a thesis must have. It's the contents that counts. You can get a fantastic grade with a 10-pages work if it is ingenious, and you can fail with a 100-pages thesis if it's of real bad quality.
  16. Font Size Does Matter.
    Depending on your study programme, the examination office may have some instructions on the structure of the title page. Indepedently of you study programme, please use a large font size (12 point) in your thesis: In general, your reviewers are older than you, and difficulties reading small font sizes increase with age.
  17. Finding a Second Reviewer.
    Most study regulations require that your thesis must be reviewed by two persons (usually professors, postdocs may be possible by asking the head of the examination committee for permission). Please discuss potential candidates you have in mind with your supervisor. Moreover, do not forget to ask this potential reviewer before suggesting his/her name to the examination office.
  18. Extra Copies.
    Often your direct advisor in the daily business is a Ph.D. student or a postdoc whose research is closely related. In general this person will not get a copy of your thesis from the examination office. Thus, it would be fair and helpful if you give an extra copy (including a CD or DVD with the C code) of your thesis to him or her. Your direct advisor will use it as a memory of the nice time with you, and as a basis for making suggestions for grading.
    Also your parents or grandparents might appreciate an extra copy of the thesis, in particular if they have helped to finance your studies. They will be proud of you. However, don't be shocked if they praise the nice cover more than the contents of the thesis.
  19. Little Pleasures.
    Don't give us presents before or after submitting your thesis, even if you love us and this is common in your home country. Your scientific results are the only way to influence your grade. If you like the way how we have supervised you, simply tell it to your fellow students. That's how you can please us most.
  20. After Submission.
    In most cases you can get a confirmation from us right away, stating that we have received your thesis and will not grade it worse than 4. If you need it, just let us know.
    After you have submitted your thesis, contact your supervisor for a time slot for a talk where you present your results to the MIA Group. We are all curious what you have to tell us (within 30 minutes), and this may also speed up our grading.
    Often our stack of work to be reviewed is large. In cases when you need your final grade very urgently, tell us, and we will see what can be done.
    If you want, you can of course get the review of your thesis from us. It's about your work, so you may know all about it.
  21. Going on for a Master Degree in Visual Computing ?
    If you are writing your bachelor's thesis with us, you might also be interested in obtaining a master degree in Visual Computing. Saarland University has pioneered this interdisciplinary study programme, and it is one of the best places to learn everything about visual computing (image acquisition, image analysis, and image synthesis). It is also possible to combine Visual Computing with a related master programme such as Computer Science or Applied Mathematics without much additional workload. For more information you can visit the Visual Computing Webpages. Please feel also free to make an appointment with Joachim Weickert to discuss your individual situation.
  22. Going on for a Ph.D. Degree ?
    A Ph.D. degree demonstrates the ability to work on a high scientific level. It involves several years of research, and it is much more challenging than a master degree. We are constantly looking for strong Ph.D. candidates who satisfy three criteria:
    1. You should be creative, work independently, and be able to write down your thoughts in a well-structured, logical and grammatically correct way. An excellent performance in your master's thesis is the best opportunity to prove this to us.
    2. You should have very good technical skills to solve occuring problems. This is documented by top grades. For instance, this is the case if you manage to achieve an average grade of 1.3 in our classes on Image Processing and Computer Vision and Differential Equations in Image Processing and Computer Vision.
    3. You should fit in our group. This means you should be an open-minded nice person and a team player who has a similar enthusiasm, perfectionism and sense of humor as we have.
    When we have the impression that you fulfill all these criteria, we will not miss the chance to discuss this with you. While the number of Ph.D. positions in our group is limited, there is also a possibility that we can help you to find a Ph.D. position in another group if your performance is good. This can be in Saarbrücken, somewhere else in Germany, or abroad.
  23. Finding a Job.
    If you are interested in an image processing or computer vision job outside academia, here is a list of vision companies in Germany. The same web page contains also links to German computer vision research groups. International job offers (in academia and industry) can be found at the Imageworld mailing list. There is also a list of international research groups. We are of course always happy to help you with hints and recommendations. Vice versa, we are also curious about your career afterwards, so please stay in contact.

If you have remaining questions and suggestions, please do not hesitate to contact us.

We look forward to working with you.
The MIA Group

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