This is an archived file from the Spring 2022 version of the course.
See the current course website for a more recent version.

Final Project

As discussed in Class 4, your final project can be on anything you want that is related to this course. We want your final projects to be interesting and fun to work on, and to produce something of value beyond just satisfying an expectation of this course.

We are expecting most students will do one of these types of projects:

  • Systematization Projects: Start with a curious question, learn what is currently understood about it from the research literature, and produce something to explain it to computer scientists. This could be a static or interactive web page, a video, improving a Wikipedia page, or some other artifact.

  • Research Project: conduct original research on a relevant topic. This starts by understanding what is already known and identifying a question to study. Then, applying tools you learned in this class, and others you learn on your own, to make progress on answering that question.

  • Tool-Building/Improving Project: develop some tool that will be useful for computational biology research. It is probably more useful to make improvements or add a feature to a widely-used open source tool, than to build your own software from scratch.

  • Hobby Project: replicate something for fun (e.g., sequence your genome), and produce an artifact (most likely a web site) explaining your experience in a way that will be interesting and useful to others.

Your project doesn’t need to fit into any of these categories, but these should give you some ideas for the kinds of project you might do.

Project Goals

An ideal project will satisfy these desiderata:

  • fun (for you to do, and for others to see)
  • useful (at least to yourself, but hopefully to many)
  • relevant (to the class, to yourself, to humanity)
  • technically interesting

Your project is not required to satisfy all of these, but should satisfy at least three of them, and satisfy at least one of them especially well.


For the final project, you may work alone or in a team of your (mutual) choosing with any number of people. The impressiveness of your project should scale as at least the square root of the number of people on your team (so, for example, a team of three people would be expected to do something approximately 1.7 times as impressive as a one-person project).

You should not underestimate the need for management and structure if you have a large (this means more than one person!) team. If you have more than one person on your team, your project proposal should include a plan for how to manage your team and work well together.


  • Project Idea, due Tuesday, 29 March, 4:59pm. Your project proposal (to be submitted using this form should include:

    1. The names and email ids for all members of your team.
    2. Title of your project: short description that clearly captures your project idea.
    3. A short paragraph that describes the goal of your project.
    4. A project jusfication that explains how your planned project is likely to satisfy at least three of the goals above (fun, relevant, technically interesting, useful).
  • Project Idea Presentation - in class on Wednesday, 30 March. Each team will have an opportunity to present your project idea to the class with a single slide and few minutes.

  • Project Proposal, due Friday, 8 April, 4:59pm. Your project proposal will include updates on the title, goal, and justification from your project idea, as well as:

    1. State-of-the-art: your understanding of what is already available connected to the goal of your project. This could be other attempts to achieve the same goal (and why you think you can do something better), or work related to similar goals. A good state-of-the-art will include references to specific relevant work. For most types of projects, this would include research papers relevant to your topic.
    2. A project plan that explains the main tasks needed to successfully complete your project and what you will actually do.
    3. A management plan list of your team members and their roles and responsibilities. If your team has more than two people, this should also explain how you plan to coordinate and manage your team.
  • Project Update: due Tuesday, 19 April, 4:59pm. An update on how your project is going, any changes from your original plans, and summary of what progress you have been able to make.

  • Project Presentations: in class on Wednesday, 27 April and Monday, 2 May. Each team will give a brief presentation on their project to the class.

  • Project Reports or Artifacts: due Monday, 2 May, 9:59pm (extensions possible if full team desires it and can agree on a date that works well). Final submission of the results of your project.

Students who have an idea for their project early, and want more time to work on it, can replace Project 3 with additional time to work on their project by meeting this schedule:

  • Project Idea: submit by Tuesday, 15 March, 4:59pm (and get approval from me, which should be later that day).

  • Project Idea Presentation: in class on Wednesday, 30 March (same as everyone)

  • Project Proposal: Friday, 1 April, 4:59pm.

(The other deliverables will be on the same schedule, but expect to be scheduled for the first in-class project presentation day on April 27.)