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LASEC - Security and Cryptography Laboratory
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Guidelines for students preparing a project at LASEC

Guidelines detailed in this document apply to students preparing a project at the Security and Cryptography Laboratory.


The aim of project is to enhance the student's training by applying the knowledge and competences acquired throughout the student's training and to study a subject related to security and/or cryptography. The project also allows the student to show his knowledge and competences and to emphasize it to a potential employer.

Choosing a subject

Choosing a subject is a hard task for a student. Knowing if the project is suitable to his capabilities is even harder for the supervisor. The student should tell his potential supervisor what are his knowledge and competences in the required topic and ask him whether it is a risky project, that is a project where it is difficult to say in advance if the student will be able to obtain his grade even knowing his capabilities. Typically a cryptanalysis project or a project with exotic platforms may be risky: the grade is not a matter of amount of work but of a result at the end.

Tools Available

LASEC gives use of room INF 220 to students where the following can be found:

In order to open a Linux account, contact Fatih Balli. Your first challenge in terms of security is to choose a secure password...

You can use your existing "students" windows account on the LASEC's windows machines. The key to the computer room must be obtained from Martine Corval (LASEC secretary - INF 237) and must be returned soon after the oral presentation of the project work.

LASEC has a library (INF 216) featuring books on mathematics, cryptography, security and computer science (computer programming, algorithmic, complexity, etc.). Students who wish to borrow a book must complete the e-form available from the library web site.


Each project is supervised by a supervisor clearly identified at the start of the project. The function of the supervisor is to help students by following the progress of the project work and making sure students do not get stuck on particular aspects of the topic by giving them advice and directions. Students are encouraged to see their supervisor on a regular basis.
It is important to point out that a student who is in difficulties during his project and who will not be able to achieve the required work, must react as soon as possible and ask to his supervisor to reframe the project.


It is advisable to use freeware that works under Linux unless the project does not allow so.

Source code must be thoroughly commented; one must keep in mind that all code written may be re-used or modified at a later date for a different purpose and that all non-commented codes finish in their suitable place, that is in the trash.

Code written by the students must be clearly identifiable from code coming from another source.

Submitted documents

Documents which must be submitted to Fatih Balli a few days before the oral at the latest:

Documents which must be provided to Fatih Balli the day of the oral presentation at the latest:

Electronic copies of documents should be sent to Fatih Balli by email or provided on a flash disk or a CD.



The project report must be word processed, written in English. Students may use the word processor of their choice but they are encouraged to use LaTeX.

The report must be bound and must comprise of a title page giving the following information:

In order to help you, you can use the LaTeX templates file.


The report must contain (this list is an indication only and is by no means complete):

Oral presentation

The oral presentation duration is roughly 40 minutes: it comprises of a presentation part of roughly 30 minutes, and 10 minutes of questions. The jury is composed of a minimum of two staff members from LASEC. Students are encouraged to attend presentations from their fellow students.

If the project is shared between several students then they should all commit to play an equal part in the oral presentation.

An overhead projector and a video projector are available, but Laptop is not supplied.

Extensions for the submission of documents or the oral presentation will only be given under exceptional circumstances, according to EPFL guidelines.


Project evaluations will take place at the end of the semester, generally the week following the 14th project week. Students will be informed of the exact day a few days before.

A unique mark will be assigned to each project. It is therefore important that the workload is distributed evenly between students working on the same project.

Here is the semantic for the grades:

6.0   perfect
5.5very good, could have been better to be perfect
5.0good, all milestones completed
4.5acceptable, but missing results
4.0minimally acceptable
3.0output with too many mistakes
2.5severe mistakes
2.0did not understand anything
1.5outrageously bad
1.0was present at the defense, did not work at all
0.0did not show up

This evaluation takes into consideration the work carried out, documents submitted on completion of the project and the oral presentation. The following list summaries the criteria taking into account for project evaluation.

Work carried out.

Documents submitted.

Oral examination.


Doing a project at LASEC allows to gain knowledge and competence in the field of security and/or cryptography which can be very valuable to the eyes of a potential employer.

Also, excellent projects may be cited or be part of a publication - scientific or not - or even give rise to a publication dedicated solely to the project if it is justified from an innovation point of view.