What is a suitable Problem?

The aim of a degree project can not only be to implement a piece of software. There must be a problem to solve using a systematic approach, and the choice of the problem must be motivated from a scientific, societal or business perspective. When selecting a topic and a problem the following questions must be answered:

  • Why is the topic important (for science, society or industry)?
  • Has the problem been answered before?
  • If it has, what is new and original in your work?
  • If not, why can the problem be answered/approached now?

Finding a suitable Problem

Finding a problem to work on in your degree project that interests you is the first and also most important decision you have to make. The first step is to look at the list of open proposals. These are proposals suggested by the local industry or researchers at the university. If nothing on the list suits you, you have to come up with your own idea. A good approach is the following:

  • Find one or a few subject areas that interest you. Examples are Internet security, multicore computing, 3D graphics, testing, software architectures for a specific type of systems, etc.
  • The next step is to find an unsolved problem within the subject area. You can get inspiration by reading blogs, published research articles, textbooks or degree project reports made by earlier students. An example of a problem within software architectures is to evaluate different candidate architectures for a sales system. Another example is to compare the performance of an algorithm running on a single core hardware system compared to a multicore system.
  • Not all problems are suitable for degree projects. They might be too large for a degree project, require special types of hardware that the university does not have access to, require skills that the student is lacking, or is not within the core subject of the study program. You can ask a teacher at the university who is skilled in the subject area if the problem you have found is suitable for a degree project at your degree. If it is, take the opportunity to ask the teacher if he/she is interested in supervising your degree project. Teachers like students who show initiative!
  • If you did not find any interesting problem in one subject area, continue to the next subject area until you have found a problem for your degree project.

You can also ask teachers that are experienced in subject areas you are interested in if they have an open problem for you or contact local companies if they are interested in degree projects. The most important thing when selecting a topic is that it has to be something you are interested in. It will keep you motivated during the hard work that is required in a degree project and will lead to a better result in the end.

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