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MSc Project Ideas


Please Note: These are idea 'stubs' it is up to you to realise these projects, I am more than happy to help with the requirements of analysis, but it's up to you to do the rest.


The Psychogeography Toolkit

Psychogeography is defined as the "the study of the precise laws and specific effects of the geographical environment, consciously organized or not, on the emotions and behavior of individuals." One of the typical approach is to draw a large circle at random on a map, and travel along that circle, commenting on what you see, what you hear, how it feels, (e.g. look at the metal drains, are there dates on them? look at shapes of the buildings, and how the telephone wires and electricity wires snake around them, etc.). This project will seeks develop a random route generator (circular), and create a means by which the experiences can be recorded, photographed, etc. and automatically formed into a webpage.

Interesting psychogeography link.


Mobile Phone Usage Detection

This project is in the field of computer vision, and seeks to build a prototype system to detect if car drivers are using their mobile phones while driving. The initial system will use pictures of people in a controlled environment, seated and either using a phone or not (some may be scratching their nose, or resting their head on their arm), and a classification will occur. Following this a glass pane will be placed in front of the test cases to add further verisimilitude to the tests.


The Heraclitus Mosiac

The great pre-Socratic philosopher Heraclitus is said to have written one of the most important philosophical books that mankind ever produced. Unfortunately, no copies of this book survive, but what does is about 100 fragments from the book quoted in other sources. Today's philosophers each have their own views on how these fragements fits together and what the themes of Heraclitus' book were. This project seeks to create a database of these quotes that is queriable on the basis of a word or theme and presents the relevant quotes. Additionally this tool should allow a user to group quotes together based on their own views of how the fragements link together into chapters, and explore the quotes (a la Would require a student willing to study 2500 year old philosophy with good database and user interface design skills, and an ability to discuss issues such are information represention, data storage, etc.


Shakespeare Apocrypha

The Shakespeare Apocrypha is the name given to a group of plays (e.g. Sir Thomas More, Cardenio, and The Birth of Merlin) that have sometimes been attributed to William Shakespeare, but whose attribution is questionable for various reasons. Using Stylistic statistical-based metrics, e.g. Zipf anaylsis, Sentence Length, Sentence structure, words used, tense, infrequent n-gram occurances, active vs. passive voice, etc. and the development of other suitable metrics as part of the project, similarities will be measured between the canonical tales and the apocryphical ones.

Other similar projects include comparing each of the following pairs;

Dean Moriary's dialogue from On the Road Neal Cassady's The First Third (since Dean is based on Cassady)
Ian McEwan's Atonement Lucilla Andrews' No Time for Romance
The Canterbury Tales The Decameron
Helen Keller's The Frost King Margaret T. Canby's The Frost Fairies
Alex Haley's Roots Harold Courlander's The African
Dan Brown's The Da Vinci Code Michael Baigent and Richard Leigh's The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail
James Cameron's The Terminator script Harlan Ellison's two episodes of The Outer Limits - "Soldier" and "Demon with the Glass Hand"


Gait Anaylsis

This project will focus particularly on kinematics (measurement of the movement of the body in space) using simple computer vision techniques to identify polynominal splines and create a "stickman" figure which can be overlayed beside the original actor using augmented reality techniques.


Panopticon Simuation

This project focuses on developing a computer simulation of a panopticon in the style of the Grangegorman simulation. A panopticon is an idea for the architecture of a prison to explore the nature of power, designed by English philosopher Jeremy Bentham (and cited by French philosopher Michel Foucault), that allows jailers to observe all prisoners without the prisoners being able to tell whether they are being watched.


NewSpeak Text Filter (and Translator?)

In 1947 Eric Arthur Blair wrote a novel called "The Last Man in Europe", the title of which was changed to 1984 and the author's name to George Orwell. It became one of the most aclaimed novels of the 20th century.

One of themes of 1984 was that the government was simplifying the English language (both vocabulary and grammar) to remove any words or possible constructs which describe the ideas of freedom and rebellion. This new language is called Newspeak and is described as being "the only language in the world whose vocabulary gets smaller every year". In an appendix to the novel Orwell included an essay about it, and the basic principles of the language are explained.

The objective of this project is develop a text filter that will take in normal text, and convert it into Newspeak. An initial system will simply change the words in the text to their equivalent in Newspeak, e.g.

"bad", "poor", "lame" all become "ungood"

child", "children", "boy", "girl" become "young citizens"

"quite", "rather", "kind of", "kinda" become "plus"

Like these programs;

From there the next stage is to investigate the more fundemental translation process, whereby the grammar and structure of the text is changed to the style as outlined by Orwell.


As an aside;


Accessibility Checker Comparsion

The Bobby Accessibility check was the de facto standard for increasing the accessibility degree of a website (using the guidelines established by the World Wide Web Consortium's (W3C) Web Access Initiative (WAI), as well as Section 508 guidelines from the Architectural and Transportation Barriers Compliance Board (Access Board) of the U.S. Federal Governmen). Since it was officially closed in Febuary 2008, a new standard accessibility checker has yet to emerge, this project will compare accessiblity tools on a varity of types of webpages, e.g the Nine types of webpages (Five good and four bad).


Otlet's Web

In 1934, Paul Otlet sketched out plans for a global network of computers (or “electric telescopes”) that would allow people to search and browse through millions of interlinked documents, images, audio and video files. He described how people would use the devices to send messages to one another, share files and even congregate in online social networks. He called the whole thing a “réseau,” which might be translated as “network” — or arguably, “web.”

Otlet’s vision hinged on the idea of a networked machine that joined documents using symbolic links. While that notion may seem obvious today, in 1934 it marked a conceptual breakthrough. “The hyperlink is one of the most underappreciated inventions of the last century,” Mr. Kelly said. “It will go down with radio in the pantheon of great inventions.”

These links were non-static and had many interesting features, this project centres on developing a simulation of how Otlet's Web would have worked.


Building Learning Objects

This project is to investigate and develop a series of Learning Objects (a unit of educational content delivered via the internet), using eith the IMS Content Packaging or the SCORM (Sharable Content Objective Reference Model) standard. As well as having the standard learning object parameters, the learning objects for this project will be aware of how learning style can effect presentation means.


Building eLearning Tools

There are a number of topics that I would like build an eLearning Tools for, the kind of thing I am thinking of is as follows: So you would be required to build a tool like this and create a website to accompany it. You would have to be able to justify your design choices based on some teaching or learning theory. The topics I am thinking of are;

  • Computer Vision
    • Edge Dectection Algorthims
    • Fourier Transformations
  • Basic Algorithms:
    • Array Searching
    • Linked Lists
    • Pointers
  • Databases:
    • Normaisation
    • Concurrency Control
    • Backup and Recovery logs
  • Operating Systems
    • File Management and types
    • Process Management
    • Memory Management

There would be a web site to go along with each tool, and each tool could be added to the NDLR.


Swarm Intelligence

This project is to investigate and develop a model of swarm intelligence. The basic architecture of a swarm is the simulation of collections of concurrently interacting agents: with this architecture, you can implement a large variety of agent based models.


Computer Simulations

Developing graphical simulations of ancient computers using OpenGL, suggestions would include;

An Abacus, an astrolabe, a slide ruler and a Jacquard Loom
Antikythera Mechanism
Schickard Clock
Curta Calculator


Formal Language Parsing

This project would be to implement a parser for the Z Specification language, using the Haskell programming language. The parser should be compliant with the official Z standard where possible.


Police Photofit

This project would be to develop a computer based police photofit system, using openGL


Research-based Topics

A student may wish to focus solely on a review of relevant literature related to any of the following topics. The review will need to be very comprehensive and demonstrate deep critical reflection on the topic, and will need to produce an artefect (e.g. this is an artefect on Web Accessibility), and indicating how it could be used, and who would use it, etc. Note, since there is no experiment element to these topics, this is a risky approach to your Masters, you will have to be willing to read at least 75 papers (and some books) in three months if you choose to do this.

Forensic Lingusitics
Acousto-optic computing
Genetic computing
Quantum computing
Defensive Programming
Literate Programming
Cloud and Grid Computing
Swarm Intelligence
Simulated Annealing
Inference Attacks
Genetic Algorithms
Utility Computing
Google Hacking
Positive and Negative Databases
Dimensional Databases
Semantic Web
Edge-Detection in Computer Vision
Comprehensive review of Software Engineering Methodologies
A Large-Scale Study of Web Password Habits
Web 3.0