A research project applying computational approaches to a biological problem. The project is (co)-supervised by a professor in Computer Science and/or Biology. A program advisor from each department has to approve the project.


Welcome to COMP 401 - the undergraduate research component of the CS and Bio joint major! This class will be utterly unlike most other classes you have taken. During this course, you will conduct a research project under the guidance of a professor (typically from either Computer Science or Biology).


Office hours: By appointment.

Course Webpage: http://www.cs.mcgill.ca/~jeromew/comp401.html

Your final grade will be calculated as follows:


Your COMP 401 experience will primarily stem from the research that you do. As a result, the structure of this course is built around making that time as focused and productive as possible. With this in mind, the course will proceed through the three stages described below.

Stage 1: Finalize project proposal
Identify a supervisor and a project. You will do this on your own. Once you have found a supervisor and narrowed in on a project, you will write up a 1-page project proposal. You will submit this to me and I will use it to evaluate whether your research project satisfies the (relatively flexible) guidelines of the course. I will be checking projects for three criteria:

In your proposal, please make sure that you provide enough information for me to evaluate this. It is possible that I will ask you to clarify or revise certain aspects of the proposal. This is why I have two deadlines (see below) for the project proposal. The first deadline is the time by which you must submit a proposal. The second deadline is the time by which we must have finalized the proposal (i.e., you have addressed any concerns or comments I have about the project). In general, if you find a supervisor in the CS&Bio area, you should not have a problem at all with this phase. Most often, your supervisor will provide you with a project idea that you will work on. So you do not have to come to COMP 401 with any particular project ideas of your own. In case of you could not find a supervisor, please feel free to contact me to schedule a meeting. Typically, you will submit your project proposal and I will immediately approve it – at which point you move onto the next stage. If I do not approve it, then we will discuss my concerns and iterate on it until it is something we are both comfortable with.

Stage 2: Research
Conduct your research. Unless I am supervising your project, I am not involved in this at all.

Stage 3: Final Report
On the last day of class, you must submit your final project report. Project reports should be at least 5 pages (not including figures and bibliography). A report should be written in the style of a journal publication – meaning that it should include the following sections: Introduction, Background, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions. A bibliography is essential and must be included. Your project report will be lightly graded on presentation and with most emphasis placed on content. It is expected that you write your report with feedback from your advisor prior to submitting it to me (this will help with presentation and content). Note that I do not expect this to be a perfect, publication-worthy manuscript – but I expect it to be written well enough for me to understand what you did, why it was important, and so forth.


February 1Project proposal dueThis is an informal document in which you provide a detailed description
February 11Final project proposal dueIf I respond to your initial project proposal with questions or concerns, you have until this date to revise and address them – ultimately submitting a revised version that will be considered the final proposal. If you do not get an email from me within 1 week, it means that your document has been accepted as it.
April 14Project report dueAs described above, the 5+ page project report must be submitted by the end of classes. Crucially, this is what I will use to assign you a grade – so you may well have additional work to do for your advisor. So do not think that you need to have finished your project in order for you to write your final report. Note that, unless serious justifications (i.e. personal emergency or health-related issue), I will not grant extensions.


Use of French in assignments and exams
In accordance with McGill University’s Charter of Students’ Rights, students in this course have the right to submit in English or in French any written work that is to be graded.

McGill policies
McGill University values academic integrity. Therefore, all students must understand the meaning and consequences of cheating, plagiarism and other academic offenses under the Code of Student Conduct and Disciplinary Procedures.


If you have any additional question, you can contact the instructor:

Jérôme Waldispühl
3630 University Street, Room 3106, Montreal QC H3A 0C6
(E-mail) jerome.waldispuhl@mcgill.ca
(Phone) +1 514 398 5018

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