Writing a Master's Thesis in

Language Technology or

Computational Creativity

The Master's Thesis is your chance to work on something that you decide for a whole year.
So take it as an opportunity to do that! And thus, make sure to pick a subject that really interests you.

  1. Find a project

    • Either: Look at my lists of suggested projects.
    • Or: Suggest a project of your own in the language processing or computational creativity fields.

      For some additional project ideas, you might want to have a look at what my previous students have been working on. You can find most previous theses that I've supervised at NTNU on NTNU Open. That will give you some tips of loose ends if you check out the Future Work sections of those texts. It will also give you a flavour of what the scope and requirements of a thesis are.

  2. Discuss the topic with me

    I want to have a chat to you before I sign up to be your supervisor (e-mail me first so we can agree on a time to meet).
    The purpose of the talk is to discuss the projects you are considering, why you are interested, and what can come out of these projects.
    If you cannot come in person (e.g., if you are an exchange-student doing the fourth year abroad - or NTNU is closed because of a pandemic...), send me an e-mail and let me know why you have an interest in a specific project, and we take it from there (probably settling for a Teams meeting instead).

    So: contact me, so we can discuss the opportunities.

  3. Select your preferred topic(s)

    Note that selecting a thesis topic and supervisor is a 3-step process:
    1. The students' deadline 2023 for selecting possible topics is May 21.
    2. After that the supervisors will offer you a (or several) potential project(s).
      (No projects will be offered before May 22.)
    3. The students confirm/accept (one of) the offers.

    "Shop around": Select at least 3-5 themes that interest you, from at least 2-3 different supervisors.
    Even if you're very interested in working with someone, they might simply get overloaded...

    (For perspective: last year, 86 students expressed interest in my projects, I talked to 51 of them, and in the end supervised 15 - which still is a lot more than other professors at IDI.)
    Also, be aware that students taking the AI specialisation will normally be prioritised to get a supervisor in the AI field - this goes for all the staff working in AI; however, that doesn't mean that I only supervise AI students: roughly half of my students come from other specialisations. It also doesn't mean that all AI-students must have an AI-supervisor.)

  4. One or two students?

    Most of my suggested MSc Thesis topics can be tailored either to one student working alone or to two students working together (regardless of what the list of projects indicates).

    Working together may be more fun than going alone, since you may motivate each other and some of the work (such as exploring the state-of-the-art) must be done regardless.

    However, be aware that if you team up with someone, both students should have the same level of ambition and the same goals!
    (And that's a lot more important than being good friends from the start.)

  5. Required background

    Regardless of your grades or previous courses, the most important thing is that you're interested in the topic you're going to persue. However, it will almost certainly be good if you've followed some of the courses where I am (or have been) involved, such as "Intelligent Text Analytics and Language Understanding" (TDT4310), "Computational Creativity" (Experts in Teams), or something similar.

    Other courses that could be relevant depending on the thesis topic include Information Retrieval (TDT4117), Recommender Systems/Web Intelligence (TDT4215), and in general all AI courses (probably in particular Machine Learning/TDT4173, Deep Learning/IT3030 and/or AI programming/IT3105).

    If you haven't taken any such courses, you can still do most of my projects (in particular in the Computational Creativity field), but it may be more work (as you'll have to read up on more material in order to get to know the field).
    [This can also mean taking a course in parallel to your thesis work, including as one of the theory modules related to the mentioned courses.]

  6. Supervision

    Normally we'll meet (face-to-face or online) about once every second week during the year, to ensure that both the work as such and the report writing is progressing smoothly. At the beginning of each semester, you should set up a rough time plan for the progress.

    Be aware though that the English term "supervisor" is a bit misleading. The Norwegian "veileder" and Swedish "handledare" describe the role better: the one who leads the project is the student, with the teacher being a guide (that's probably both good and bad news for you: on one hand this entails more freedom for the student, on the other hand it of course also means more responsibility).
    However, while few students have written a Master's Thesis previously, I over the years have been involved in well over 130 theses, so obviously I'll do everything I can to guide you through the process, including the report writing.

  7. Goal for the First Semester (Fall/Autumn)

    The goal of the first semester is to write a specialisation report that shows that you're up to speed with the subject area and defines the actual Master's Thesis topic for the spring (all project suggestions need to be instantiated - and that's what you'll need to do during the first semester).

    To do that, you will need to carry out a literature study and write a theoretical background section. You can also get to know your research field by implementing a system or running experiments (or reimplementing somebody else's system/algorithm or rerunning their experiments).

    For the Specialisation Project, the implementation part is not obligatory, but if you don't implement something, the literature study obviously has to be more substantial.

  8. Theory Modules

    During the fall semester, you should normally take two theory modules in parallel with the project work. The two modules together form a 7.5 credit course, called either TDT4506 or IT3020 depending on your study programme.

    You select which modules you take, but together with your supervisor. You don't have to select your own supervisor's module, but obviously most of my students will select either TDT12 (Computational Creativity) or TDT13 (Advanced Text Analytics and Language Understanding).
    Which theory modules are offered a specific year varies (new are added, old are removed, many are put on hold if the teacher is on sabbatical, etc.; the final list is normally published in August), but some other modules that can be relevant (if offered) are TDT05, TDT44, TDT46, TDT10, TDT31, TDT55, TDT99, TDT41, TDT04 and TDT17.

    Note that AI students (i.e., students with a supervisor from the AI group) are offered a seminar series (the AI Masters Class) on how to work on a Master's Thesis (writing, topic selection, literature study, etc.), so the only theory module which probably isn't relevant is TDT39 (since it covers similar topics).

  9. Goal of the Master (Spring)

    Of course the primary goal of any Master's Thesis Project is to write a Master's Thesis.
    However, a Master's Thesis supervised by me would definitely not be complete unless it included a working prototype system.

    And, the thesis itself (and hence the project) should be at a level where it would be feasible to publish the results at an international conference or workshop - so writing a scientific paper based on the thesis is a clear goal (if successful, this would normally entail the student traveling to, and presenting the work at, an international meeting).
    Note though that there is no requirement that the thesis work should be submitted to any conference, only that the quality of the work should be at that level.

  10. Integrated PhD

    If you have a very keen interest in one of the suggested thesis topics (or a related one) and even have thoughts about pursuing a PhD in it, note the possibility to make the Master's Thesis the starting point of a PhD, financed by the IE faculty.
    (If so, talk to me about it, but also check out the info here.)