Guidelines to prospective students

If you are interested in doing graduate study (Masters, Ph.D) under my supervision,

My motivations as I work with students:

  • To ensure that you, as a student have the highest possible quality education.
  • To ensure that I, as a professor, get my research done effectively.

What kind of students am I looking for?

  • If you want to be a student of mine, you must have the qualities listed below. It is up to you to show the initiative in order to convince me that you have these qualities:
    • You show enthusiasm about at least one of the topics of my primary funded research which currently are:
      1. Network security
      2. Wireless mobile networks
      3. Algorithm design and engineering for telecommunication networks
      4. Computational intelligence applications in telecommunications
    • Students interested in other related fields are also welcome to work with me.
    • You are eager to perform research that fits into my research topics and plan. This includes working on specific subprojects that I have already stated. Note that if some other student is already doing a project, then this will no longer be available to you. I also expect that my students can work more independently.
    • You show that you have your own ideas that fit in with and extend mine. Occasionally, I might propose a topic for a new student. But, in general, that's not the case. My new students are requested to read some recent papers on some particular interested topics, and discuss with me regarding their findings, which eventuelly lead to a thesis proposal.
    • You communicate well with me. This primarily means you listen to and quickly understand my ideas and see my ‘vision’ for the research. It also means you express your own ideas in a way that I find concise, clear and easy to understand.
    • You are eager to work with people in industry or other labs/collaborators with whom I am linked. This include providing training to some of my other students in some special circumstances.
    • You have appropriate background in my research areas, and particularly in the area of your research topic. If you are missing some good skills, then strong background in another area might make up for it provided you study the missing area early in your studies and it isn’t required before you can start basic work on your thesis. In general, it is not appropriate for me to educate you in missing areas using ‘directed studies’ courses.
    • You show a willingness to progress rapidly in your studies. In general, I do not accept part-time students.
    • You have good grades in programming courses (undergraduate level), plus computer networks course (graduate level).
    • You demonstrate good writing skills. This does not eliminate people whose language is not English — (I'm fluent in french language). What I'm really concerned about is your ability to express ideas clearly and structure the various sections and paragraphs; this is a language-independent activity. Prospective students should show me samples of their writing.
    • You must show initiative. For instance, I expect that my students will have read through all relevant material (teaching activities and research interest) on my Web site before approaching me to be their supervisor.
    • You must show good research skills: Among other things, this includes digging up material in the library without being asked, formulating good research plans, evaluating your research well, etc.

How I select my students?

  • I select my students based on the criteria listed above. I will never accept students without interviewing them first and seeing samples of their work and CVs.
  • If I do not select you, it may have nothing to do with you as a person or abilities. It might just be that your interests and abilities do not match my needs (as described above), or that I am unable to evaluate you adequately.
  • I will never select a student who emails me randomly and expresses a non-specific interest in my work. If you want to be my student, you should write something that convinces that all the points mentioned above apply. You should also arrange to talk to me in person, by sending me an email at

How do I support my students?

  • The availability of funding is not always gurarantee. Of course, it depends on whether or not I have received some from granting agencies or other sources.
  • If I support you financially, you have to do the work that was outlined in the proposal I wrote to obtain this money.
  • I will support you only if we agreed that I will do so when you started the program. I will not normally entertain requests from unfunded students to start funding them.
  • Support is always subject to the availability of funds, and you must realize that the grants I receive are subject to renewal and can be CUT.
  • When you agree to be my student, I will only undertake to support you for the period of time that a student would normally take to complete their program. Support beyond the initial period will only be considered if you have made good progress, yet the research has turned out to be more difficult than expected; and in my judgement it is not your fault that you are not complete.
  • I will allow you to do TA work if permitted as stated in the Departemental policy.
  • I will also allow a PhD student to teach 1 course at just one time in their program. If you want to do any other work, then I will have to reduce the amount of support I give you, since you will not be able to dedicate full-time to do your research work. Notice that working more than the above amounts puts you at severe risk of delaying the completion of your program.
  • These are the situations where I may have to review the money I give you, and possibly cease to fund you or reduce the funding:
    1. Inadequate progress and/or doing too much outside work.
    2. Not fitting your topic with the intent of the funding. Remember your research is part of a larger research plan, and I have to ensure that the larger plan is being adhered to.
    3. I am not satisfactory that you are doing good research, after several attempts (usually 3) by me to help you get on track.
  • At the beginning of your program while you are taking courses (or working on your comprehensive), it is normal not to be able to make significant progress on your thesis. If I fund you during this period and you then quit without accomplishing the planned research, then I reserve the right to ask you to pay back the support money that you received from me.

Research Timeline:

  • You will plan your thesis and develop an initial proposal and project plan in the first 4 months of your program.
  • You will monitor your plan and discuss it with me when changes are needed. Inevitably, changes will be needed as your research leads you in unexpected and interesting directions.
  • Note that PhD students also have to develop a formal written thesis proposal that will be more in depth.

Masters Degree Duration:

  • A Master’s degree should normally take about 20-24 months of full-time work, but may require excess time that can be caused:
    • A topic that is too uncertain or difficult
    • Inadequate communication with the supervisor
    • Doing excessive outside work.
  • We will always have to work together to ensure you have completed your program in time. There is no reason to take excessive time.
  • If I am supporting you, I will support you for up to this 24 months period, subject to availability of funds.
  • Coursework will normally take you the first academic year; until this is complete, thesis work should progress at 1/3 intensity.
  • Thesis work will normally become a full-time effort after 8 months (i.e. your first summer) and will take the following academic year.

Ph.D Degree Duration:

  • A Ph.D degree should normally take 4 to 4.5 years of full-time work. The national average is 4.5 years.
  • If I am supporting you, I will support you for up to 4 years, subject to availability of funds (although I preferred the 4 year time period). We will work together to ensure you complete your work in this time.

  • Coursework and the comprehensive will normally take you the first academic year. It is probably easiest to register for the comprehensive in your first summer and write the comprehensive in August. Students find it hard to get on with their thesis while the comprehensive is unwritten. During this first year, thesis work should take about 1/3 of your time, and will normally become a full-time effort after 1 year. After 18-20 months, you should be ready to present your formal thesis proposal to your committee.


You and I should discuss all courses in which you plan to register. You should study the calendar and propose courses to me and I will recommend you the most relevant one.

Supervision Style:

  • I like to meet with students about once every 10 to 20 days, especially after your coursework is complete. I will set aside a 2 hours period every week for personal discussions.
  • I don’t mind talking with you at other times, but I reserve the right to say no if I am to busy. I generally don’t like students to come and see me about every little issue, however this might be appropriate if we are working together intensively on some problem or issue.

  • I always like you WRITE something as a base to our discussions, even if it is just a paragraph describing progress. These writings could become part of your thesis.
  • When you start work, either you or I will propose a research topic, and we will agree, in writing, about what you will do. Generally, once a topic is chosen, it is definitive,a nd we can no longer cahnge it. Remember that I need to get certain research done to fulfil the requirements of the funding agency.
  • I will give you orally and in writing any ideas I have about the topic (usually a summarize sent to you by email so that we both have a written record). My ideas may be very concrete or abstract. It is up to you to decide if you are happy with it. If not, you must seek clarifications and more brainstorming from me, or my research collaborators, or from yourself.
  • You will also have the opportunity to present your ideas during seminars organized by the research groups to which I belong or elsewhere through my research collaborators' labs, and get feedback from them.

Research Steps

  • The early part of the research should be spent gathering information. Search for the literature and read as many papers as possible. Take full advantage of Universities library and also CISTI (the National Research Council library).
  • Then comes the phase where you experiment with your ideas. Often there will be problem modelization issues, program design and implementation during this period of time. The choice of programming language is yours, although it has to fit in with the infrastructure.
  • The final phase is evaluation of your ideas; this will normally be both theoretical and empirical (experiments or analysis of observations).
  • These latter two phases will normally iterate. Also, you will continue to gather information throughout the research. I strongly suggest that you write down paragraphs and chapters throughout your research.
  • For work funded by a company, you must work with the company to understand their needs, and then provide the necessary expected outcome.

Your are responsible for your own progress:

  • I will give you assistance when you ask me. However I will not pester you to see if you are making progress. If I notice that your progress is slacking off, I will sit down and discuss it with you, but the ultimate responsibility remains yours.


  • We have developed an infrastructure of software and we have a bunch of software packages. This was done at great expense to make it easy for students to then try out ideas. It is important, then, that you take advantage if this investment by implementing your ideas on top of the existing infrastructure, making sure nothing is break down. Note however that we are not developers; we should remember that we are at all times trying to answer research questions. Development of software is merely a means towards that end.
  • Even though we are working in a research context, the software we develop (or we used) should be of good quality. You should particularly focus on maintainability because other students will have to build on what you have already done.
  • One of your responsibilities when you become a undergrad/grad student with me is to learn everything you can about the infrastructure. You should explore the software packages that is available for you, learn about it and the configuration management system and tools available within the Computer science department. You should, of course, read all the documents, and related papers and Web links provided to you.


  • It is always time-consuming to fix the grammar of non-English speakers. Therefore you must proof-read your work if you know your English is not that good. Do this before submitting anything new or that is significantly reworked.
  • I will normally expect every Masters student to try and write one publishable paper out of their research (preferably a good journal paper). For a Ph.D student I would expect about 3 papers, two of which are in a good journals. I would normally be the co-author of these papers (or any of my research collaborator who contribute to the work) since many of the ideas come at least partially from me or him.
  • Subject to availability of funds, I will supply a PC to you in my DABNEL lab when you start work full time on your thesis after the first year, however when it becomes obsolete, I may not be able to replace it. Other students should use the lab computers too. Normally, I request your presence in the lab at full time when you start your thesis work after the 1st year of graduate study. A presence list is to be updated accordingly. I also request that each student participate in the DABNEL seminar series organized by the DABNEL lab, to regularly present new findings on the thesis work, and share ideas with other DABNEL students. Occasionally, my research collaborators and students may also visit DABNEL and present their research works as seminars.