Master thesis literature study successfully completed!

published on November 19, 2010

After almost a year since the last master thesis blog post, it’s about time to finally break the silence.

Much has happened since then.

I’ve read a lot for my literature study. It’s quite an adaptation (and a challenge!) to read virtually solely about data mining and statistics. Many of the papers were poorly written (in the typical, extremely awful, overly verbose Academic English). It’s an even larger challenge to actually write about it, in a consistent manner that’s sufficiently formal, yet also understandable.
This is also the reason I haven’t blogged about the progress of my literature study: it is so technical, abstract and complex that it is extremely unlikely that it would have piqued anyone’s interest (although it actually is very cool, sometimes). To be honest, the only thing that kept me going was the anticipation of being able to build something truly useful, possibly game-changing.

Fortunately, on June 24, 2010, 15:00 I successfully defended the literature study of my master thesis, resulting in a score of 16/20!

Note: at Hasselt University’s Computer Science department, the master thesis is handled in a slightly bizarre manner: there are two parts, the literature study and the implementation. The student must first successfully defend the literature study before (s)he can start with the implementation.

The entire literature study LaTeX source (or actually, LyX, about which I’ve written before) is publicly available on GitHub.

For interested readers, I’ve attached the following files:

  • the literature study that was presented, with links (for viewing in a PDF reader) and without links (for printing)
  • the literature study defense presentation, both in the original Keynote 2009 format and in PDF format

What’s next?

Over time, I’ve already made over 200 bookmarks on Pinboard related to my master thesis! Many of these bookmarks (whether they be blog posts, articles, papers, studies, software libraries or even something else) will either be incorporated or be taken into account while working on the implementation. I’ve been following the WPO (Web Performance Optimization) scene ever more closely these past few months.

This year, I’ve already written more some more for my literature study. Most significantly, I’ve written about Stream Cubes, which will likely be essential to be able to swiftly analyze the data collected by Episodes — read my master thesis proposal if you don’t know what I’m talking about.
Currently, I’m working on the implementation. There’s nothing to show off just yet. I’ll try to provide more frequent updates — but only if there’s actually something worth showing.
What I can say is which technologies I’ll most likely use:

  • Calculations will be performed in C++/Qt.
  • The UI will likely be more like a browser than like a native app, mainly because visualizations are most easily achieved with the Raphaël JavaScript library for vector graphics.
    (Qt allows for interaction between C++ code and JavaScript, this enables the combination of a low-level environment (C++/Qt) for the calculations with a high-level environment (HTML/CSS/JS/Raphaël) for the UI & visualizations!)

Related Drupal work

As I’m trying to establish myself in the WPO world, I’m also trying to bring as much WPO goodness to the Drupal community:

  • I’ve been working on version 2.0 of the CDN module during the summer. Version 1.0 was written as part of my bachelor thesis. It’s now much more powerful and has a much simpler UI!
    (e.g. it now includes all functionality of the Parallel module, whose users will get an upgrade path to CDN module 2.0.)
  • The Drupal 6 core patch that is included with CDN module 2.0 is shipping with Pressflow 6 (which is a Drupal distribution with enhanced performance and scalability)!
  • I’ll be integrating Steve SoudersEpisodes 2 library for measuring page load times with the Drupal Episodes module, which I also wrote for my bachelor thesis.
  • I’ve become the maintainer of the BundleCache module (the successor to the Support File Cache module), previously maintained by Konstantin Käfer and sponsored by NowPublic/Examiner. This module has the ability to intelligently bundle CSS & JS files.
  • I’m planning to create a single module for all WPO needs in Drupal 7: the WPO module. This is a long term goal, though. Clearly, I’ve got more than enough work queued up already.


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Richard Sheppard's picture

Well done - you’ve put a huge amount of work into this and it will pay off, no doubt! Keep up the good work!

All the best,

Richard (aka siliconmeadow on d.o)

marcvangend's picture


Congratulations Wim, nice to read how you’re combining the research for your study with contributing to Drupal.

Ximo's picture


Congratulations with having completed and defended the (obviously tedious) literature study! Now for the fun stuff :)

Also thanks for channeling the knowledge you’ve acquired in WPO back to the Drupal community. The WPO module looks like will be a must-have module for D7.

And of course, good luck with the implementation! Looking forward to hearing more about it.

James's picture


Congratulations on a job well done, and for persevering for so long. Looking forward to your Drupal implementations.

Cary Gordon's picture

Cary Gordon

Congratulations. Next up PhD?

Education rocks, and folks like you rock Drupal!