6.890 Algorithmic Lower Bounds: Fun with Hardness Proofs (Fall 2014)
Prof. Erik Demaine
TAs: Sarah Eisenstat, Jayson Lynch
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[Problem Sets] [Project]
The project is the most important component of the course. It can take several
Bring a theoretical contribution to the field (solve a problem, formulate an
interesting open problem or conjecture, etc.).
Survey a few papers on a related topic (not already well-covered by the class).
Substantially improve the Wikipedia articles for several topics related to the class.
Implement/visualize one or more reductions. Your program should take in a description of an instance of a problem and output a corresponding instance of another problem. Some attention should be paid to the layout and aesthetics of the output.
Create an art project based on the ideas in the class. Your work should be both aesthetically compelling and technically grounded (though the latter need not be explicitly visible). You may use any medium you wish, but the challenge of working with that form will be taken into consideration.
You are encouraged to relate the final project to your research interests, and
you will not be limited to the topics discussed in class.
You must submit a project proposal by 11:59pm on October 29th. You should email
your proposal to 6890-staff#at#csail.mit.edu. The proposal
should be about one page long (not more than two). It should discuss the
problem you chose in a clear and specific way.
We decide whether to approve your project's theme based on the proposal, so it
is imperative that you do some serious thinking about the project before
writing the proposal. Even though you should not change the topic of the
project after submitting a proposal, you may change the form of the project
(such as writing a survey if you fail in bringing a theoretical contribution).
The project write-up may be done individually or in groups, though for groups we
expect proportionally larger projects. As always in
research, you are allowed and encouraged to consult with anybody, including the
You must submit a paper on the day of our last class (December 9th, 2014), which should be
on the order of 10 pages. Send your paper via email to
You are also required to do a presentation during the last few lectures.