Information for Prospective Students Planning to Write Their
Thesis with Us
Thank your for your interest in writing your thesis in our group.
For a bachelor thesis, we assume that you have passed our class
on Image Processing and Computer Vision. For a master thesis,
we also expect that you have passed Differential Equations in
Image Processing and Computer Vision. These lectures provide
you with the necessary background and familiarise you with our
scientific language. Your specific grades do not matter, but they
must be passing grades. However, if we know that you are good, we
might be inclined to offer also more challenging topics that are
closer to interesting open research questions.
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, DSAI, and other programs that allow us to do so.
These can be bachelor theses, master 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
You should tell him which
of our classes you have already attended and which are your broader
areas of interest.
Joachim Weickert will then make an appointment with you and discuss
several potential topics with you. Everything is open, and you can
choose freely without any obligations. Some topics can be offered
by group members, others by Joachim Weickert. The person who offers
the topic will be your advisor and your primary contact person.
There is no deadline for the decision about your favourite topic.
Howver, it can happen that some of the topics that have
been offered to you are also offered to other students with
similar interests. Thus, if you wait too long, you risk that your
favourite topic has been taken by someone alse. As soon as we know
your decision for an available topic, we reserve it for you, even
if you cannot start immediately.
Bachelor / Master Seminar Talk.
Most examination regulations require a so-called bachelor or master
seminar talk. In our case this is a short talk (15 minutes) in our
group seminar where you present the problem and some first ideas how
you would like to solve it. This little extra work is rewarded with
quite some credit points.
Please note that the bachelor/master seminar talk takes place in the
initial phase of your 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 fix a time slot for this
Please e-mail the title of your talk one week before it takes place
to Michael Ertel,
such that he can announce it via our mailing list.
Your audience mainly consists of MIA group members. You can expect that
they are aware of the contents of our regular classes on Image
Processing and Computer Vision and Differential Equations on
Image Processing and Computer Vision. Please obey the usual
rules of good scientific practice that hold for any of our seminars,
give fair credits to findings and pictures that do not go back to you
(at the same slide), and avoid any plagiarism.
After your talk, please e-mail a pdf file of your slides to
He will put it on our group seminar website. They will be
password-protected and accessible to the MIA group members.
After you have submitted your thesis,you are also expected to
present its results to our group in a thesis defence talk
(30 minutes, see below).
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.
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.
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 is a sample program that provides a number of useful
routines for greyscale and colour images:
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.
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.
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.
We recommend to aim at a good balance between being independent
and benefitting from the advice and the feedback of your supervisor.
Make sure to consult your supervisor in case of problems that you
cannot solve by yourself. Please report also major achievements to
us to obtain our feedback.
On the other hand, please try to show also some
independence: If you ask for advise for every little thing that
you could have solved easily by thinking about it for a few
minutes, you cannot expect a top grade.
If you do not receive a response to one of your e-mails within
a few days, this is never a bad intention. Please send it again.
In case you are unhappy with some aspects of your supervision, please
let us know immediately to give us the chance to improve things.
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 us know as soon as possible,
such that this slot can be used for other activities.
Keep it Simple.
Science aims at finding the simplest concept that explains a
finding or accomplishes a specific task
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
Make Sure That Your Algorithms Have Converged.
We have seen 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.
0.000001. It is also inappropriate to initialise an iterative
algorithm with the correct solution if you know it (e.g. in an
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.
The references in your thesis should be complete and follow
a consistent style. Please take this seriously and be thorough.
If you use LaTeX, Joachim Weickert
we be happy to e-mail you his BibTeX file which contains many
references and follows the recommended style.
You should reserve plenty of time to write down your results.
For a bachelor thesis, four weeks is a typical time span,
and for a master 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.
If you want that your supervisor reads your draft before you
submit it, this is fine. However, please clarify this early
(we might be busy) and allow sufficient time (e.g. two weeks).
Moreover, please make sure that these drafts are mature, and
do not misuse your supervisor for correcting your typos unless
you want to give a bad impression. Please use a large font size
(12 point, see below).
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
is recommendable to use English, since more people can read
your results and it is easier to publish them.
Regardless of the language, you should write in a clear
and direct way and avoid long sentences. Please prefer active
language over passive one (e.g. "we choose" instead of "is chosen"),
since this sounds less boring.
Nobody expects you to write like Shakespeare or Goethe. In particular,
there is no need to introduce more than one idea per sentence.
Remember Paul Dirac's words: "In science one tries to tell people,
in such a way as to be understood by everyone, something that
no one ever knew before. But in poetry, it's the exact opposite."
Your thesis is about science, not poetry.
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.
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.
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.
Extra Copies and pdf File.
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
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.
In modern times with large monitors of high resolution, your reviewers
often prefer to read your thesis on their computer. This allows them
e.g. to zoom into images. Thus, please send them also a pdf file of your
Please do not 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.
In most cases you can get a confirmation from us right after your
thesis submission, stating that we have received the thesis and will
not grade it worse than 4. If you need it, just let us know.
Thesis Defence Talk.
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, and this may
also speed up our grading.
The rules for the defence talk are the same as for the bachelor/master
seminar, but this time you have 30 minutes instead of 15, and of
course you are supposed to present your final results.
In contrast to the bachelor/master seminar, you do not get an extra
grade for the defence talk. It counts as part of your thesis work
and can influence its grade in a positive or negative way.
Thesis Grading and Review.
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.
Going on for a Master Degree in Visual Computing ?
If you are writing your bachelor 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
Webpages. Please feel also free to make an appointment with
to discuss your individual situation.
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:
When we have the impression that you fulfill 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.
The most important point is that 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 thesis is the best opportunity to prove this to us.
You should have good technical skills to solve occuring
problems. This is documented by good grades. For instance,
this is certainly the case if you belong to the top 20 % in our
Image Processing and Computer Vision and Differential
Equations in Image Processing and Computer Vision.
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.
Finding a Job and Staying in Contact.
If you are interested in an image processing or computer vision job
in industry, here is a document that also contains a list of
machine vision companies in Germany.
If you prefer a job in academia, 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