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Writing my master thesis about the "Development and Assessment" of an algorithm, I'm wondering where the in-depth description of the individual modules of the algorithm and their functions belongs. Right now, the method section contains this part along with the metrics and scenarios used to evaluate its performance.

But is the developed algorithm not actually a part of the results? Would it maybe work if I break the method section apart, as such:

  1. Intro
  2. Algorithm
  3. Evaluation
  4. Results

    ...

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The algorithm isn't part of the results. The results are what you learned from the project - the knowledge. In this case it would be the analysis of the performance on the specified problem. The algorithm is what you built to get the results, not the results themselves.

But with the current outline, it looks like you will have to put too much into the introduction. You need to describe, somewhere, the problem and current solutions and why you want a new algorithm. That seems like a lot for the intro. Likewise you need a conclusion putting the results in context.

Note that while most of your work may have been in developing the algorithm, that isn't the essence of your knowledge contribution. The essence is in why and how this was a good approach to a problem (properly quantified) in the first place.

For example, if I build a better garbage collector for, say, Ruby, the knowledge contribution is in how and why this approach is better than other GC systems, if, indeed, it is. But you can even get a thesis out of the work if you show that the approach, which seemed promising, in fact is worse, on some scale. It is the knowledge we require, not the software/algorithm.

  • Thank you for your quick response! Very helpful! Regarding your follow up about the intro: what is your opinion about the following sturcture: 1. Introduction 1.1 Background 1.2 Problem Description 1.3 Related Work (here I pretty much list previous strategies in single sentences and at the end, I describe all their flaws and why a new algorithm is necessary) 1.4 Objectives 2. Physical Parameters (split this from the intro. still packed with basic facts to understand the topic including literature) 3. Algorithm 4. Evaluation 5. Results&Discussion 7. Conclusion – cheesus Mar 4 at 22:04
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    I won't comment on the specifics, but, yes, something richer than the original. You might also decide to modify it as you go along. – Buffy Mar 4 at 22:06
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"Method section"? It sounds like you're applying a high-level structure from natural science to a mathematics paper, which might be why it doesn't fit.

"In-depth description of the individual modules of the algorithm and their functions" also sounds off to me. Modules and their functions sounds more like the code which implements the algorithm than the algorithm per se: the appropriate place is probably an appendix, and that only because it's a master's thesis.

Pick a handful of algorithms papers from the last fifteen years and look at their structure and level of detail. You might need to use a bit more detail because you need to convince your assessors that you know what you're doing, but published papers can still give you a useful yardstick.

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