- 22 December 2014 — Original version.

Your goal: write a report that clearly describes your capstone project problem and briefly summarizes previous related work. This will eventually become the beginning parts of the final report you will submit at the end of the semester.

Describe your problem and its significance in words.

- Briefly provide some background for your problem, to give your reader some context before you describe your problem.
- Describe your problem in words. Provide details about the objective function and constraints in your problem. For example:

The aim of this project is to determine how to transport cargo and passengers with a given aircraft fleet over a given network in a way that minimizes the number of late deliveries, subject to appropriate physical and policy constraints such as...

- Give an overview of how you propose to solve your problem. Examples:

We will model this problem as an integer linear program. To solve this model, we will implement the model in GMPL and...

We build a simulation of the system in SimPy. To determine an effective strategy, we will evaluate and analyze different scenarios...

- Explain why studying your problem is important. What will a solution to your problem enable you to do?

There is no one right way to write your problem statement: just make sure to address the points above in a clear, organized fashion. For an example, take a look at the "Introduction" section in the following article:

D. P. Morton, R. E. Rosenthal, L. T. Wang. Optimization modeling for airlift mobility.Military Operations Research1(4):49-67, 1996. [link]

Describe previous work related to your problem.

- Start with the articles given to you by the APL team.
- Find other related work by (i) looking at the references in these articles, and (ii) searching on your own. Google Scholar is a good place to start.
- After perusing through the related work you find, select a subset that is most related to your problem.
- Tell a coherent story of what the authors of these works did, and
how they are related to your project.
In particular, for each previous work, you should answer the
following questions:
- What problem did the authors study? How is it similar/different from your project problem?
- How did the authors solve their problem? How is their approach similar/different from your proposed approach?

For an example, take a look at paragraphs 2-4 in the "Introduction" section of the following article:

H. D. Sherali, P. J. Driscoll. Course scheduling and timetabling at USMA.Military Operations Research4(2):25-43, 1999. [link]

Use this reference and citation style guide.

- Reading technical articles is sometimes difficult and can take a lot of time. Start early and be patient. You may need to seek some additional sources to fully understand what is going on. Ask for pointers. Google can be your friend.
- Focus on making your report well-written and concise.
**Proofread, proofread, proofread.**

- Submitting a complete first draft of your problem definition
- Demonstrating a reasonable understanding of the problem
- Demonstrating a reasonable understanding of previous related work
- Writing clearly, concisely, and eloquently, and in a well-organized fashion
- Meaningfully revising and improving your first draft