CE/VLSI Preliminary Examination ("Prelims")
- The prelims committee, consisting of three professors, will
choose 3-5 academic papers on a topic that the student and committee
agree upon. The committee may also recommend a textbook or tutorial
paper for background reading.
- The student will prepare a paper of approximately 10 pages with
the following main sections:
The student may consult with the committee throughout the writing process.
- Introduction, which states the problem, previous solutions, and ideas for future work at a high level;
- Preliminary definitions, which defines the problem formally;
- Previous work, which synthesizes the ideas presented in the assigned papers;
- Potential future work, which describes directions for future work, including at least one well-defined idea;
- Discussion and conclusions, which places the work in context of other work in the field.
- The student will prepare a 30 minute oral presentation on the
topic that roughly parallels the paper in structure but may focus on
certain aspects while summarizing or skipping others.
- The committee may ask questions on the presentation and related
material during and after the presentation. The student should expect
about 30 minutes of questions.
- The paper is due one week before the presentation.
- Read all papers and background material before writing.
Synthesize the ideas in your head and on scratch paper; then begin to
- The Previous work section, which is the main part of the
paper, should not be a mere retelling of the various papers in
chronological order. Rather, there should be a true synthesis of
ideas. One would expect to see common definitions (not necessarily
coming from any one paper), common lemmas or theorems, comparisons of
expressiveness/performance/power/etc., relationships of ideas,
possible generalizations, identification of different or similar
mathematical foundations, etc.
- The presentation should be accessible to your colleagues, who may
be uninformed on the topic. That is, the audience should walk away
from the presentation having learned something.
- Read the introductory chapters or sections of several PhD theses
to see how others have handled literature reviews.
- Use the prelims as an opportunity to learn LaTeX.