It has finally come the time when I have to choose a subject for my undergraduate thesis on which I'll be working on full time next semester. My first idea was to make a contribution to NetBSD by developing an automated testing framework. I have had interest in this for a long while (I even proposed it as part of this year's SoC), and there is a lot of interest in it within the project too.

However, this specific project does not fit correctly into the current research groups at my faculty. This wouldn't be a problem if I wasn't thinking in taking a CS Master or Ph.D. later on. But as I'm seriously considering this possibility, it'd be better if I worked on a project that lets me integrate into an existing research group as early as possible. This could also teach me several new stuff that I'd not learn otherwise: if you look at the paper linked above, you can see I already have several ideas for the testing framework. That is, I already know how I'd address most of it, hence there'd not be a lot of "research". Furthermore, the teacher I talked to about this project felt the core of the project could not be long enough to cover a full semester.

So what are the other possible ideas? I went to talk to a teacher that currently directs some of the research groups and he proposed me several ideas, organized in three areas:
  • Code analysis and optimization: Here I'd work on tools to analyze existing code and binaries to understand how they work internally; this way one could later generate a better binary by reorganizing related code and/or removing dead bits. They already have done a lot of work on this subject, so I'd be working on a tiny part of it. No matter what, dealing with the compiler/linker and the resulting binaries sounds quite well.

  • Improve heterogeneous multiprocessor support: This group contains ideas to improve the management of heterogeneous systems such as those based on the Cell processor. I'm "afraid" any project here would be completely Linux-based, but the background idea also feels interesting. Haven't got too much details yet, though.

  • Distributed systems: This doesn't interest me as much as the other two, but this may be because there was not enough time during the meeting to learn about this group. However, next week we are taking a guided visit to the BSC which will hopefully clear some of my doubts and let me decide if I'm really interested in this area.
I shall make a decision as soon as possible, but this is hard!

Oh, and don't worry about the testing framework project. I'll try to work on this in my spare time because I feel it's something NetBSD really needs and I'm sure I'll enjoy coding it. Not to mention that nowadays, whenever I try to apply any fix to the tree, I feel I should be adding some regression test for it! Plus... I already have a tiny, tiny bit of code :-)

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