I'am currently doing a non-research Dipl.Eng (Engineering Diploma in French school system equivalent to MSc) in Computer Science.

The courses I am currently taking are software oriented, there's an absence of anything related to TCS except an Algorithm Design course I took in my first year. However my personal interests are in TCS,in the last two years (prior to starting the program I finished a BSc in Applied Mathematics) I did a deep dive in TCS and Cryptography my goal was to understand zero-knowledge proofs so I read many books (Prof. Avi Wigderson's Mathematics and Computation, the first part of the Computational Complexity book by Arora and Barak, Scott's Aaronson book + lecture notes). I also started reading papers released on eprint.iacr.org website about zkSNARKs and zkSTARKs and I implemented some of the works.

I would like to pursue a PhD in TCS later on (I am graduating in June 2022) but there are no programs available in my country, I was told from a professor in a foreign university that the field is very competitive and because I have no published results I have very slim chances of getting accepted.

Is there an absolute necessity to publish at my level, if so what kind of research should I work on ? Improve some SNARK scheme ? Make a synthesis of previous results ? Publish in an adjacent field where I have some results (Machine Learning) ?

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    $\begingroup$ I am really surprised: you have TCS masters in France (MPRI in Paris, Computer Science Master at ENS Lyon where you can apply without being normalien, Informatique Fondamentale in Bordeaux...). Even in an engineering school, you can apply to such master (you should see what is possible with your school of course). If you want to keep in TCS research in France, you do not really need to publish, but you really need to do your internships in a research team to have contacts and previous research experience. $\endgroup$
    – holf
    Apr 25 at 7:26
  • $\begingroup$ Hello, thank you for your answer.But I should've pointed out that I am not a France resident but of Morocco (old colony, keeps the same educational system) there are no theoretical programs here hence my question. $\endgroup$
    – h4lius
    Apr 25 at 20:06
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    $\begingroup$ You could still try applying to the last year of AFP/MPRI for example, if you have the means to stay in Paris for a year (although it is somewhat selective, so depending on your school/courses/grades it might be difficult to get in, but there are other options than MPRI). As a Moroccan I'm guessing it shouldn't be too difficult for visas and everything (simply judging by the fact that I had quite a few Moroccan classmates in my engineering school in Paris). You "loose" an additional year of studies, but depending on your situation it might be worth it. $\endgroup$
    – Tassle
    Apr 28 at 14:46

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