Honors Program

Every year a few computer-science majors choose to go beyond the normal major and enter our Honors Program. Honors students engage in independent work culminating in the writing of a senior thesis, and are considered for graduation with honors in the major. The experience of participating in an independent research project and of writing a senior thesis can be particularly important for anyone who intends to study for the Ph.D. degree in computer science.

From the ORC

The Honors Program in Computer Science

To be eligible for departmental Honors or High Honors, a student must:

  1. Have a GPA of at least 3.33 overall and in the major, at the time of graduation;
  2. Have an average grade of at least B+ in COSC 99 or 98;
  3. Complete a written thesis; and
  4. Meet College requirements for Honors, presented in the Regulations section of the ORC.

The GPA in the major is determined as follows: course prerequisites to the major are not counted, COSC 98, 99 are not counted, but all other courses used as part of the major (which might include courses in other departments) are counted, as are all courses titled Computer Science or cross-listed with Computer Science.

The written thesis is typically completed as part of the requirements for COSC 99 (Thesis Research), but at the recommendation of the instructor for COSC 98, students doing work in COSC 98 with a substantial independent component may also complete a written thesis based on that work. The subject of the thesis is often motivated by the content of an advanced course of the student's major, though a variety of activities can lead to a thesis. Student suggestions for theses are welcome. A student interested in pursuing thesis research should consult with his or her prospective adviser and get their approval for the thesis advising arrangement, along with the approval of the Departmental Undergraduate Advisor before enrolling in COSC 99.

Honors are awarded only if the work is of high quality and was done substantially independently. High Honors additionally requires presentation to a thesis committee of three CS faculty members and the work should be deemed publishable or, if it is a project, useful. The recommendation of the thesis adviser to award Honors or High Honors must be ratified by a departmental vote.

Honors Application

You can fill out this form from within Adobe Acrobat.

  • Type into the following fields: Last name, First name, Middle initial, Class, HB, Thesis advisor, Thesis title, and all Course fields that apply. If the thesis title does not fit on the first line, use the additional lines.
  • Select the appropriate grade for each course. When you click elsewhere, the GPA field will be computed automatically and then updated.
  • Print out the filled-in form when you are done. You will need to sign the hardcopy, as will your thesis advisor, before you give it to the Advisor to Undergraduate Students.

Handing In Your Honors Thesis

CS honors theses are due at 9:00 AM the day of the CS faculty meeting at which honors are decided. The CS Undergraduate Advisor will announce this date to the CS honors thesis students each year as soon as this date is determined.

An advisor has the right to require the thesis to be handed in to her or him in advance of the department's deadline. (For example, the advisor might require the thesis to be handed in to her or him before the public presentation, if the student is going for high honors.) The actual deadline, therefore, is the earlier of two times: whenever the advisor requires the thesis to be handed in, and 9:00 AM the day of the CS faculty meeting.

No extensions beyond 9:00 AM the day of the CS faculty meeting are ever possible. Never. Nunca. Won't happen. Don't even think about it.

Your thesis should be archival quality. In other words, it should be good enough that we will archive it as a Dartmouth College Computer Science Technical Report. Although you are not absolutely required to make your thesis a tech report, we prefer that you do.

Follow these steps to make your thesis a tech report:

  1. Have your advisor get a TR number from the CS office. Our TR numbers are now of the form TRYYYY-XXX, where YYYY is the year and XXX is a 3-digit number. Allow a couple of days for this step, just in case.
  2. When you produce your thesis, make sure that it has the following elements:
    • A title.
    • An abstract, which is a relatively short (1-4 paragraphs) summary of the main results of your thesis.
    • Page numbers.
    • Your advisor's name.
    • The TR number appearing above the title, in the form
      Science Technical Report TRYYYY-XXX
  3. Produce a PDF (or PostScript) file containing your entire thesis.
  4. Follow the instructions at the TR archive to submit a tech report and metadata.

Recent Honors Projects

Some of the senior theses completed in the past few years are listed below, with links to tech reports where available. You can also browse the Dartmouth CS tech report repository.

  • Title: Dense Gray Codes in Mixed Radices
    Student: Jessica Fan '17
    Adviser: Tom Cormen

  • Title: Using Computational Models to Understand ASD Facial Expression Recognition Patterns
    Student: Irene L. Feng '17
    Advisors: Brad Duchaine and Emily Cooper

  • Title: A HoloLens Application to Aid People who are Visually Impaired in Navigation Tasks 
    Student: Jonathan L. Huang '17
    Advisors: Emily Cooper and Wojciech Jarosz

  • Title: A Decentralized Funding System for OSS Projects
    Student: Yondon Fu '17
    Adviser: Sergey Bratus

  • Title: Key Management Challenges of Owner-Driven Access Control of Personal Health Data from Wearable Devices
    Student: Emily Greene '17
    Adviser: David Kotz

  • Title: Probabilistic Error Upper Bounds For Distributed Statistical Estimation
    Student: Matthew Jin
    Adviser: Amit Chakrabarti

  • Title: Gradient Estimation for Variational Inference
    Student: Min Hyun Kang '15
    Adviser: Qiang Liu

  • Title: Tools for Physical Graphic Design
    Student: Liane Makatura '17
    Adviser: Emily Whiting

  • Title: Algorithms and Lowerbounds for Reader-Writer Locks
    Student: John Martin '17
    Adviser: Prasad Jayanti