Advice for Students

B.Sc. theses (kandidaatintyöt)

If you’re interested in a specific area of graphics and short of a thesis advisor, get in touch with me – I’ll be happy to supervise your work unless I’m swamped with too many other projects at the time. In the best case I’ll learn something from you and that’s exciting.

M.Sc. theses (diplomityöt)

Unfortunately, I generally do not have paid M.Sc. thesis positions. Any such opportunities will be posted on the lab website when available.

I expect a prospective M.Sc. advisee to demonstrate prior experience and skill in graphics, vision, or related topic – this can be coursework, hobby projects, games, anything really – and importantly, an interest in some particular problem. Of course, your idea does not have to be fully fleshed out at first. My classes are, hopefully, good for gaining experience and sharpening your teeth.

I may occasionally have project ideas suitable for an M.Sc. thesis lying around, and it never hurts to ask, but I’m probably only going to give one out to you if you make me feel you’re enthusiastic and capable of making something out of it (see above paragraph). I am not sympathetic to “please give me any topic at all so I can just get through this with minimum effort”. (See general advice below.)

If you work in the industry, already have a topic and an advisor, and want me to supervise your thesis, get in touch with me and we'll talk.

Prospective PhD Students

I do not have positions available right now, but if you really impress me with stuff you’ve done in the past (demo, game or other project, thesis, etc.), visibly display the ambition and excitement for doing research, and if we get along well when you show me all this, we’ll see if we can work something out in the future.

For me, the goal for a PhD is pretty simple: making progress on unsolved problems that are relevant enough so at least some people care, and doing it better than anyone else. This doesn’t necessarily mean you have to pick the hardest problems in existence; often, asking a new kind of question is the key creative moment --- which is, naturally, lead up to by working hard to get to know what’s out there already and what matters --- and the rest follows.

I heartily recommend Bill Freeman’s notes, aimed at new graduate students, on how to do research.

General advice: picking thesis projects

We’ll all be happier and the world will be a better place if you find a thesis topic, be it B.Sc., M.Sc., or PhD, that actually interests you.

No matter if your topic won’t directly benefit you in your later exploits – that’s really hard to say in advance, by the way – the demonstrated ability to master and communicate a topic is a highly valuable in itself. And, of course, if you like what you do, your mastery will simply be much more thorough and convincing. So, pick a topic you like, work hard fueled by your interest, and you’ll become a true expert, stand out, and at the same time have more fun working! Also, your advisor will be much happier to put time into guiding you if you’re enthusiastic.

General advice: pay attention to your writing

Sloppy style and bad grammar will make me, or anyone you submit your writings to, (1) pay less attention to your work because it is hard to parse and comprehend, and hence annoying to read, and (2) give you a bad grade, with extra indirect damage due to you having received less help (see 1).

This may sound harsh, but fear not; a normal college student will do just fine with a little bit of honest effort and knowing that this matters.

You can also think of the thesis as an opportunity: people do judge you based on your writing, so getting better at it is valuable. Fredo Durand has written down some sound and fun advice.