Computer Science

Students may complete a major or minor in Computer Science or a minor in Computational Methods.

Faculty

Douglas Blank, Associate Professor of Computer Science

Deepak Kumar, Professor of Computer Science (on leave semesters I and II)

Jia Tao, Visiting Assistant Professor of Computer Science

Dianna Xu, Chair and Associate Professor of Computer Science

Computer Science is the science of computer algorithms—their theory, analysis, design and implementation. As such it is an interdisciplinary field with roots in mathematics and engineering and applications in many other academic disciplines. The department at Bryn Mawr is founded on the belief that Computer Science should transcend from being a subfield of mathematics and engineering and play a broader role in all forms of human inquiry.

The Computer Science Department is supported jointly by faculty at both Bryn Mawr and Haverford Colleges. The department welcomes students who wish to pursue a major in Computer Science. Additionally, the department also offers a minor in Computer Science, a concentration in Computer Science (at Haverford College) and a minor in Computational Methods (at Bryn Mawr College). The department also strives to facilitate double majors and evolving interdisciplinary majors. Students can further specialize their majors by selecting elective courses that focus on specific disciplinary tracks or pathways within the discipline.

All majors, minors and concentrations offered by the department emphasize foundations and basic principles of information science with the goal of providing students with skills that transcend short-term trends in computer hardware and software.

Major in Computer Science

Students are encouraged to prepare a major course plan in consultation with their academic adviser in Computer Science. The requirements for a major in computer science are three introductory courses (CMSC 110, 206 and 231), three core courses (two of CMSC 240, 245, 246 and one of CMSC 330, 340 or 345), six electives of a student’s choosing and a senior thesis. Additionally, all Computer Science majors must take CMSC B330, a writing intensive course, to fulfill the writing requirement.

Students can specialize in specific disciplinary tracks or pathways by carefully choosing their elective courses. Such pathways can enable specialization in areas such as: computational theory, computer systems, computer graphics, computational geometry, artificial intelligence, information visualization, computational linguistics, cognitive science, etc. Students should ensure that they have completed at least three courses in computer science by the end of their sophomore year (we highly recommend CMSC 110, 206 and 231).

Minor in Computer Science

Students in any major are encouraged to complete a minor in computer science. Completing a minor in computer science enables students to pursue graduate studies in computer science, in addition to their own major. The requirements for a minor in computer science at Bryn Mawr are CMSC 110, 206, 231, any two of CMSC 240, 245, 246, 330, 340 or 345, and one elective chosen from any course in computer science, approved by the student’s adviser in computer science. As mentioned above, these requirements can be combined with any major, depending on the student’s interest and preparation.

Minor in Computational Methods

This minor is designed to enable students majoring in any discipline to learn computational methods and applications in their major area of study. The requirements for a minor in computational methods are CMSC 110, 206, 231; one of CMSC 225, 245, 246, 310, 312, 330, 340 or 361; any two computational courses depending on a student’s major and interests (there are over 35 such courses to choose from in various departments).

Students can declare a minor at the end of their sophomore year or soon after. Students should prepare a course plan and have it approved by at least two faculty advisers. Students minoring in computational methods are encouraged to propose senior projects/theses that involve the application of computational modeling in their major field of study.

COURSES

CMSC B110 Introduction to Computing

The course is an introduction to computing: how we can describe and solve problems using a computer. Students will learn how to write algorithms, manipulate data, and design programs to make computers useful tools as well as mediums of creativity. Contemporary, diverse examples of computing in a modern context will be used, with particular focus on graphics and visual media. The Processing/Java programming language will be used in lectures, class examples and weekly programming projects, where students will learn and master fundamental computer programming principals.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM); Quantitative Readiness Required (QR); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Blank,D., Xu,D., Tao,J.
(Fall 2015, Spring 2016)

CMSC B201 Physical Computing

Physical Computing is the study of the integration of computing (software and hardware) into the traditionally non-digital world. This often includes the use of an embedded, low-cost microcomputer with sensors and actuators (such as motors) to build an interface between the physical, analog world with the digital world. This course explores all levels of computing, from the low-level software and electronics, to the higher-level to application development and use of computing in society. Of special interest is that DIY technology that empowers individuals via creative physical computing devices and uses. Prerequisite or Corequisite: CS110 Introduction to Computing (or equivalent); or approval from instructor.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM)
Units: 0.5
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B202 Mobile Computing

Mobile Computing is the study of the human-computer interaction between non-expert computer users and low-cost, richly-connected mobile devices controlled by software “apps.” Because the user is considered to be non-expert, mobile computing has driven the development of intuitive interfaces (such as touch-based screens). Because the the device is small, relatively inexpensive, and richly connected (with computer servers and other mobile users), mobile computing has driven the development of novel apps, especially those involving non-centralized, distributed use (such as geo-tagging, microblogging, and interactive games). This course will explore these apps (including user interface design), networks (including security), and devices (including smart phones, PDAs, tablet computers, wearable computers, and “carputers”). We will also explore the interaction of software development, networking, and the mobile device especially in those areas of “disruptive technologies.” Prerequisite or Corequisite: CS110 Introduction to Computing (or equivalent); or approval from instructor.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM)
Units: 0.5
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B206 Introduction to Data Structures

Introduction to the fundamental algorithms and data structures using Java. Topics include: Object-Oriented programming, program design, fundamental data structures and complexity analysis. In particular, searching, sorting, the design and implementation of linked lists, stacks, queues, trees and hash maps and all corresponding complexity analysis. In addition, students will also become familiar with Java’s built-in data structures and how to use them, and acquire competency using the shell, commandline scripting and a debugger without any IDE. Prerequisites: CMSC B110 or H105, or permission of instructor.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM); Scientific Investigation (SI)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Blank,D., Tao,J.
(Fall 2015, Spring 2016)

CMSC B231 Discrete Mathematics

An introduction to discrete mathematics with strong applications to computer science. Topics include propositional logic, proof techniques, recursion, set theory, counting, probability theory and graph theory. Co-requisites: CMSC B110 or H105.
Approach: Quantitative Methods (QM)
Crosslisting(s): MATH-B231
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Xu,D.
(Spring 2016)

CMSC B240 Principles of Computer Organization

A lecture/laboratory course studying the hierarchical design of modern digital computers. Combinatorial and sequential logic elements; construction of microprocessors; instruction sets; assembly language programming. Lectures cover the theoretical aspects of machine architecture. In the laboratory, designs discussed in lecture are constructed in software. Prerequisite: CMSC B206 or H106 and CMSC B231
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Blank,D.
(Fall 2015)

CMSC B246 Programming Paradigms

A more advanced programming course using C/C++. Topics include memory management, system and low-level programming as well as design and implementation of additional data structures and algorithms, including priority queues, graphs and advanced trees (space-partitioning and application-specific trees). In addition, students will be introduced to C++’s STL. There will be emphasis on more significant programming assignments, and in connection to that, program design and other fundamental software engineering principals. Make file and GDB will be used at least in the first half. Prerequisite: CMSC B206 or H106, and CMSC B231, or permission of instructor.
Approach: Course does not meet an Approach
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Tao,J.
(Spring 2016)

CMSC B310 Computational Geometry

A study of algorithms and mathematical theories that focus on solving geometric problems in computing, which arise naturally from a variety of disciplines such as Computer Graphics, Computer Aided Geometric Design, Computer Vision, Robotics and Visualization. The materials covered sit at the intersection of pure Mathematics and application-driven Computer Science and efforts will be made to accommodate Math majors and Computer Science majors of varying math/computational backgrounds. Topics include: graph theory, triangulation, convex hulls, geometric structures such as Voronoi diagrams and Delaunay triangulations, as well as curves and polyhedra surface topology. Prerequisite: CMSC B231/ MATH B231.
Approach: Quantitative Readiness Required (QR)
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Xu,D.
(Fall 2015)

CMSC B312 Computer Graphics

An introduction to the fundamental principles of computer graphics: including 3D modeling, rendering, and animation. Topics cover: 2D and 3D transformations; rendering techniques; geometric algorithms; 3D object models (surface and volume); visible surface algorithms; shading and mapping; ray tracing; and select others. Prerequisites: CMSC/MATH B231, CMSC B246 and MATH B203 or H215, or permission of instructor.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B325 Computational Linguistics

Introduction to computational models of understanding and processing human languages. How elements of linguistics, computer science, and artificial intelligence can be combined to help computers process human language and to help linguists understand language through computer models. Topics covered: syntax, semantics, pragmatics, generation and knowledge representation techniques. Prerequisite: CMSC 206 , or H106 and CMSC 231 or permission of instructor.
Counts towards: Neuroscience
Crosslisting(s): PHIL-B324; LING-B325
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B330 Algorithms: Design and Practice

This course examines the applications of algorithms to the accomplishments of various programming tasks. The focus will be on understanding of problem-solving methods, along with the construction of algorithms, rather than emphasizing formal proving methodologies. Topics include divide and conquer, approximations for NP-Complete problems, data mining and parallel algorithms. Prerequisites: CMSC B206 or H106 and B231.
Major Writing Requirement: Writing Intensive
Units: 1.0
Instructor(s): Tao,J.
(Spring 2016)

CMSC B355 Operating Systems

A practical introduction to modern operating systems, using case studies from UNIX, MSDOS and the Macintosh. Topics include computer and OS structures, process and thread management, process synchronization and communication, resource allocations, memory management, file systems, and select examples in protection and security. Prerequisite: CMSC B246 or permission of instructor.
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B361 Emergence

A multidisciplinary exploration of the interactions underlying both real and simulated systems, such as ant colonies, economies, brains, earthquakes, biological evolution, artificial evolution, computers, and life. These emergent systems are often characterized by simple, local interactions that collectively produce global phenomena not apparent in the local interactions. Prerequisite: CMSC 206 or H106 and CMSC 231 or permission of instructor.
Counts towards: Neuroscience
Crosslisting(s): BIOL-B361
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B371 Cognitive Science

Cognitive science is the interdisciplinary study of intelligence in mechanical and organic systems. In this introductory course, we examine many topics from computer science, linguistics, neuroscience, mathematics, philosophy, and psychology. Can a computer be intelligent? How do neurons give rise to thinking? What is consciousness? These are some of the questions we will examine. No prior knowledge or experience with any of the subfields is assumed or necessary. Prerequisite: CMSC B206 or H106 and CMSC B231 or permission of instructor.
Counts towards: Neuroscience
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B372 Artificial Intelligence

Survey of Artificial Intelligence (AI), the study of how to program computers to behave in ways normally attributed to “intelligence” when observed in humans. Topics include heuristic versus algorithmic programming; cognitive simulation versus machine intelligence; problem-solving; inference; natural language understanding; scene analysis; learning; decision-making. Topics are illustrated by programs from literature, programming projects in appropriate languages and building small robots. Prerequisites: CMSC B206 or H106 and CMSC B231.
Counts towards: Neuroscience
Crosslisting(s): PHIL-B372
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B380 Recent Advances in Computer Science

This is a topics course. Course content varies. Prerequisite: CMSC B206 or H106 and MATH B203 or H215, Co-requisite: CMSC B231, or permission of instructor
Units: 1.0
(Not Offered 2015-2016)

CMSC B399 Senior Conference

An independent project in computer science culminating in a written report/thesis and oral presentation. Class discussions of work in progress and oral and written presentations of research results will be emphasized. Required for all computer science majors in the spring semester of their senior year.
Units: 1.0
(Spring 2016)

CMSC B403 Supervised Work/Independent Study

Units: 1.0
(Fall 2015, Spring 2016)