Thesis >> Abstracts

Appearing in the preliminaries as a synopsis of the whole thesis, the self-contained Abstract is often written at the final stage. It should be noted that this material contains detailed explanatory notes on the Abstract and students may consider reading the materials about other chapters in a thesis first.

The Abstract comprises summary statements for all sections in a thesis such as Introduction, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusion. As the Abstract is usually the first part to be seen in a thesis, it is probably the first part to be read.

A well-written Abstract, being a succinct and informative synopsis of the thesis, can certainly help impress the examiners as well as other readers and invite them to read through the whole thesis. Upon the submission of a thesis to the examination panel, the examiners read the Abstract and then make preliminary judgements on the scholarship of the reported research and form expectations on the contents in the thesis. Regarding the length and format of an Abstract, please refer to the guide issued by the university or consult with the supervisor.

Read the following Abstract from a thesis in the field of Computer Science and answer questions for the pre-reading by using the colour palette.

Questions for the pre-reading

  1. What is the research topic of the study?
  2. What is the research background of the study?
  3. What is the research purpose of the study?
  4. What was the method used in the study?
  5. What are the results and conclusions?

Click the corresponding colour of a question on the colour palette and highlight the relevant part(s) in the extract to answer the question.



Collision detection and collision avoidance in a 3D dynamic environment are critical problems in various applications such as computer animation, virtual reality, computer games, robotics, CAD/CAM, computational physics and computational biology. Collision detection is to detect if different moving objects come to occupy the same spatial position at the same time in a computer simulated environment; it is needed for triggering proper action to either avoid collision or determine correct physical response due to collision. Continuous collision detection (CCD), on the other hand, further concerns whether objects are guaranteed to be colliding or collision-free within a continuous time span.

This thesis studies collision detection, as well as continuous collision detection of an important class of surfaces, namely the quadrics, which encompasses all the surfaces of degree two, and its 2D counterpart—the conics. We aim to produce efficient and exact collision detection results, which are much desired in many applications where accurate shape is encoded more efficiently using quadric surfaces than using piecewise linear representation. Our approach is algebraic, therefore it requires neither geometric approximation of curved boundary surfaces nor discrete sampling of motion time interval, which are the main sources of inefficiency and inaccuracy of the conventional collision detection paradigm.

We deal with the collision detection of ellipses and ellipsoids, whose results could be extended readily to solve the collision problems of other conic curves and quadric surfaces. We are interested in the composite quadrics models (CQMs) that comprise piecewise quadric or linear surface patches, and in particular, the CQMs whose boundary curves are conics sections because such objects are widely used in practice. Based on the algebraic formulation, robust and efficient numerical algorithms are devised to solve the CCD problems.

We illustrate the robustness and effectiveness of our algorithms with experiments and numerical examples, whose results demonstrate that they are practical for collision detection in relation to quadrics or conics primitives.

* Note: CAD, CAM, and CCD stand for computer-aided design, computer-aided manufacturing, and continuous collision detection respectively.
Adapted from: Y. K. Choi, “Collision detection for ellipsoids and other quadrics,” Ph. D. dissertation, Dept. Comput. Sci., HKU, Hong Kong, 2008. [Online]. Available: The HKU Scholars Hub.


The Abstract is a standalone summary of an entire thesis, reporting the main points in different sections including Introduction, Literature Review, Methods, Results, Discussion, and Conclusions. References or footnotes seldom appear in an Abstract

The main purposes of the Abstract in a thesis include:

  • summarising the thesis;
  • highlighting major contributions and suggesting future research directions;
  • convincing the examiners and other readers that the study is valuable; and
  • helping the examiners determine if the thesis meets the university requirements. 

The Abstract in a thesis needs to conform to the university and departmental requirements in terms of its length, style, and layout. It should have a clear and logical structure, be written in an appropriate academic style, be accurate, and be free of any grammatical and spelling errors. Requirements for different universities and different disciplines may vary. Please refer to the university guide or consult with the supervisor for clarification about the requirements.

In the light of the salience of the Abstract in a thesis, a great amount of effort should be made in selecting the contents, organising the points, and refining the language for the Abstract

Activity 1

Which of the following items are the main purposes of the Abstract in a thesis? Click on the box next to a correct purpose to add a tick.

Your answersCorrect answers

To draw the examiners’ or readers’ attention by allowing them to forecast the results through examining the summary statements of the experimental methods.


To affirm the value of the study by highlighting the significance of the results and contributions to the field.


To help examiners or readers form expectations of the contents in the thesis. 


To add a note about acknowledging the support and contributions of various parties during the course of the research study. 


To provide a summary of the thesis so as to allow a potential reader to determine if the thesis is relevant to the search and of any interest to him/her.


To demonstrate that the author has the ability to conduct quality research and write good language in the academic style, meeting the academia’s expectations. 


To help examiners or readers understand the structure of the thesis by inserting references to particular chapters. 


To provide important references in the form of footnotes to key terms introduced in the Abstract. 



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