Hints for Writing a PhD Proposal

By Angelos Keromytis (April 2010)

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Hints for PhD Proposal Defenses

Thesis Contributions

By Yechiam Yemini (March 2010):

A thesis contribution is a technical result that is both substantially novel and creates significant new knowledge.

A technical result is a solution of a technical problem. There are four types of technical results:

  1. A theory consisting of a body of theorems and their proofs from first principles.
  2. An algorithm that computes certain output from a given input.
  3. A performance analysis describing quantifiable behaviors of a large class of mechanisms, or characterizing optimal selection of their control parameters.
  4. A design for a hardware, software or protocol mechanism capable of resolving a broad class of problems.

A result is substantially novel if it cannot be derived as a simple application or extension of known results. A result creates significant new knowledge if it is (a) not obvious; and (b) if it is sufficiently abstract to be applicable to a large class of problems.


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