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I completed my undergraduate (in engineering) earlier this year and I am working in a company now.

My senior design project involved me developing a different and cost-effective method for something. So I decided to document everything in a research paper.

I ended up submitting the paper to a national level student engineering conference. The paper was accepted. I presented it. And in fact ended up getting the award for the 2nd best paper.

However I was going over my paper the other day and I found out a mistake in my algorithm. My concept (discussed in the paper) and actual code are both correct. But since I didn't put the code in the paper and just the algorithm I made an error in converting my code to the algorithm for the paper.

The error can be easily corrected however the algorithm in its current state will cause the device to not work properly. The paper also discusses 2 other algorithms for 2 other tasks; both of them are correct but everything is interdependent.

The paper hasn't been published (and can't be found online) but it is printed in the conference proceedings. I am also ashamed to have won the 2nd prize with an error in my paper.

My question is, how do I approach this?

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For a paper published in a journal you would go for errata if the mistake is minor and does not invalidate the conclusions of the paper, or for retraction if the mistake invalidates the conclusions. In your case I would contact the organizers of the conference and ask what you should do.

You may feel ashamed about making a mistake that goes into publication (I talk from experience) but acknowledging it and trying to fix it is laudable (not everyone does it), is the ethical alternative and it will give you some peace of mind afterwards.

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    You're doing the right thing. I would contact the conference organizer to explain the situation. They will appreciate your honesty, and unless the award depended on the exact result rather than the innovation (and your presentation skills) then I suspect that the award would not be revoked. Still, even if it is revoked, you've shown a commitment to accuracy and honesty, which in the long run is more important than some award. Re: the MS, you might mention the correction in the cover letter. Then if the editor and reviewers saw your conference paper, they will be aware of the correction. – postdoc4J7 Sep 18 '14 at 12:47

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