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CSC 490 Project Information and Suggestions
Some of you may come into this class with a very clear idea of what you'd like to do for a project, and others may have not thought about this at all. Even if you have a general idea, flushing it out to a set of specifics can be challenging. The only real requirements are that your project be approved by the instructor, and that it involve a strong design component (so porting an existing application or fixing bugs in an existing project wouldn't qualify). As you consider proposing a project topic, keep in mind the following suggestions.
- Make it relevant: Don't treat this as just an assignment you
have to do to fulfill a requirement -- try to do something that
someone else would care about: a useful project that you can
contribute as open source, an application or tool for a non-profit
or a research group, a research study that answers a question
that others might find interesting, ...
- Make it something you think is cool: You're going to be
spending a lot of time working on this project, and it's easier
to get motivated for the amount of work required if it's something that really
sparks your interest.
- Use what you've learned: One goal of this project is to
bring together different things you've learned to create something
interesting. For example, you might use software engineering
principles, data structure and algorithm design, grammars from
theory of computing, user interface design, and maybe even things
like artificial intelligence, security, networking, or operating
- Try to learn something new: Maybe this is a time to
learn a new language, like PHP or Python, or a time to learn a new
framework/API, like Facebook or Google gadgets. Don't go overboard
though: taking on multiple new topics (like learning Objective-C and
the Apple iPhone API) and trying to get a non-trivial application
designed and written might be too much.
- Be Realistic: Remember that you've only got a single semester for all phases of development, from design through implementation and testing, and that you have only about 4 weeks for the main coding work. There are lots of great ideas for cool software -- just make sure you can do what you propose. The instructor can help talk you through what's involved in your project to determine if you're biting off too much for a single semester.
The following are some project ideas to get you thinking -- including specific projects, general ideas, and ways to find some ideas. This list reflects some of my biases about what I find interesting, and you shouldn't feel locked in to this list. Hopefully it will get you thinking though!
- Create a user-friendly graphical interface for configuring and
maintaining advanced filesystems. Some advanced filesystems have
been introduced recently: zfs from Sun (for Solaris, ported to BSD,
and available in a limited way in Linux) and btrfs for Linux
(initiated by Oracle, and still in the very, very early stages).
Administration of such a filesystem can be a challenge, so a
well-designed GUI tool would be an excellent contribution.
- Create an easy-to use encrypted "container" as a filesystem
that can be used in Linux (and in Windows for an extra bonus!).
Current encrypted filesystems in Linux (and Windows!) make you
choose between either encrypting everything, but putting it in a
fixed-size allocation, or encrypting individual files, which can
grow inside the regular file system but expose directory structures
and usually file names as well. Using FUSE in Linux, you should be able to
make a filesystem that is allocated as a single block (so file names
and directories aren't exposed) and yet grows and maybe even shrinks
- Develop a solid, easy-to-use, encrypted, incremental off-site
backup system for Linux. Some solutions do exist (such as
rsync.netand others), so finding something unique and distinctive to do here might be a challenge.
- Write an Eclipse plugin that does something interesting (for
example, manages programming assignments and submissions for an
intro programming class).
- Develop a web application to manage a collection of research
papers and relations between papers, with rating and commenting
- Work with a UNCG faculty member developing software for their
- Write a social game based on a social networking framework like
the Facebook API or OpenSocial.
- Design and perform a research project exploring and comparing
different game AIs (e.g., for a simple card game).
- Make a cool iPhone or iPod Touch or gPhone (Google Android)
- Develop the next cool web application that will make you and
your faculty mentor a billion dollars (OK, just checking to see
if you're paying attention).
- Look through Google "Summer of Code" projects for interesting ideas.