Master's Programme Committee for Mathematics and Operations Research 7/23

Decision Items

Approval of the topics of the master’s theses and appointment of the theses supervisors and theses advisors: We noticed some unchronological timings in the proposals, such as planned time from 11/2024 to 5/2024 that clearly does not make sense. On the other hand it was noted that this is only a planned schedule, which may be deviated from for justified reasons. In this particular case it seems like a keystroke error. Eventually the proposal was approved.

Approval and evaluation of master’s theses: We discussed how a thesis worth of the grade 5 in a sense works as a model thesis. From this point of view, an excellent grade cannot be given if the thesis has persistent grammatical errors, since this would give the impression that such errors would be acceptable. On the other hand, minor language issues might be overlooked if the content of the thesis is otherwise excellent. At this point it was also pointed out that the grading criterion “presentation, language, and structure” includes more aspects than just grammar, such as presentation and structure. In addition, we discussed that as master’s theses are done in different places, it is a bit challenging to compare those to each other: in a company, guidance / help with proofreading etc. may be received differently from, say, a research group within a school.

Another topic we considered regarding the evaluation of the master’s theses was the schedule point of view. Opinions were heard that only for major reasons it is justified to stretch the schedule: the school gets money for work completed on time and, on the other hand, limiting the schedule does not allow the workload to be inflated indefinitely. So in other words, it is difficult to give a grade 5 if the writing process is not smooth. There was also talk of the abstracts in Finnish. While mandatory for Finnish-speaking students, their content is not taken into account when the thesis is evaluated. Sometimes, the quality of the Finnish writing in these abstracts has been noticeably poor, prompting alarm from committee members. Advisors from the industry are rarely involved in the writing of the thesis abstract, and in this case the supervisors should take a more active approach to checking them. It is also possible that neither the advisor nor the supervisor speak Finnish, and in this case it is not clear who should be responsible for checking the abstract. Noformal recommendation or decision was made, but it was hoped that students would also take a little more care in this regard.

The theses grades were approved as proposed with one updated statement among them.

Discussion Items

The curriculum 2024-2026 for the master’s programme is well on schedule. In the new curriculum, long majors will be 60-65 credits instead of the previous 55-65 credits, as the long major must be at least 60 credits according to the Aalto degree regulations. This leaves a maximum of 30 credits for electives. The mention of academic advisors was removed from the description of the programme as this better reflects reality and is in line with other SCI programs.

Some major specific changes:

  • Mathematics: Courses MS-E1210 Sobolev Spaces MS-E1215 Elliptic Partial Differential Equations have been offered earlierly, but now they have been made part of the more permanent course portfolio. Also there will be up to 4 courses in cryptography available.
  • Applied Mathematics: MS-E1600 Probability Theory as a part of the compulsory studies, and in general statistics more strongly under the applied mathematics major. In the revised major, the “basket” approach is abandoned, as this is perceived as a somewhat rigid model. In addition to the 4 compulsory courses of the major, the new model offers freedom of choice in other courses. The three blocks (computational mathematics, statistics and probability, discrete applied mathematics) presented in the revised major are not set in stone, but are more or less indicative.
  • Systems and Operations Research: the constraint “Choose either Nonlinear or Dynamic optimization” is removed, and the courses will be moved under the electives. Some new courses as well, some which have been previously organized as special courses but now as a part of the more permanent course offering.

Other changes:

  • One can get max 7 credits based on work experience if one takes the course JOIN-A0003 Yhteisössä vaikuttaminen.
  • New minor: Riskianalyysi, available both on the bachelor’s and master’s level.

Other items

The new study coordinator of the programme, Elsa Levo, introduced herself. The next meeting of this committee is on 23 January 2024 at 12.15.