Final projects

The final project is the main assignment of the second half of the course. They are required to be related in a substantive way to at least one of the central topics of the course. Final projects can be done in groups of 1–3 people; in our experience, groups of 3 lead to the best outcomes, so we encourage you to form a team of that size.

Literature review paper (due May 4, 11:59 pm)

A short 6-page single-spaced paper summarizing and synthesizing several papers on the area of your final project. Groups of one should review 5 papers, groups of two should review 7 papers, and groups of three should review 9. The ideal is to have the same topic for your lit review and final project, but it's possible that you'll discover in the lit review that you hate the topic, so you can switch topics (or groups) for the final project; your lit review will be graded on its own terms. Tips on major things to include:

  • General problem/task definition: What are these papers trying to solve? Why?
  • Concise summaries of the articles: Do not simply copy the article text in full. We can read them ourselves. Put in your own words the major contributions of each article.
  • Compare and contrast: Point out the similarities and differences of the papers. Do they agree with each other? Are results seemingly in conflict? If the papers address different subtasks, how are they related? (If they are not related, then you may have made poor choices for a lit review...). This section is probably the most valuable for the final project.
  • Future work: Make several suggestions for how the work can be extended. Are there open questions to answer? This would presumably include how the papers relate to your final project idea.

Project milestone (due May 23, 11:59 pm)

A short overview of your project including at least the following information:

  1. A statement of the project's goals.
  2. A summary of previous approaches (drawing on the lit review).
  3. A summary of the current approach.
  4. A summary of progress so far: what you have been done, what you still need to do, and any obstacles or concerns that might prevent your project from coming to fruition.

Presentations (May 25 & June 1)

We'll use the last two sessions of the course for in-class final project presentations.

Final paper (due Monday, June 6, 11:59 pm)

The paper should be 8 pages long, in ACL submission format. Here are the LaTeX and Word templates for the current ACL style. Please email the paper as a PDF file to .

What to put in a final project paper:

  • Research papers: These are papers where you attempted some new research idea. This doesn't have to be publishable research; it's totally great to do a replication of a result you read about. Such papers should contain clear sections describing (i) the problem you are addressing; (ii) your hypothesis or proposed solution (and if you are implementing someone else's solution, where you got the idea from); (iii) alternative solutions, or at least a baseline that you are comparing your solution to; (iv) your methodology; (v) your evaluation; and (vi) some discussion of what your results imply for your hypothesis/problem.
  • Implementation papers: These are papers where you code up a version of someone else's algorithm just to learn the details of the algorithm, or do a big semantic data labeling project. Here your want clear sections describing (i) the task that you are replicating, the algorithm you are implementing, or the data you are labeling; (ii) your methodology (what you did, how you did it); (iii) an evaluation, i.e., the experimental results; and (iv) a discussion of what you learned.