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    Macalester College
   
 
  Sep 25, 2017
 
 
    
College Catalog 2017-2018

Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


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Full Time Faculty: Vittorio Addona, Andrew Beveridge, David Bressoud, Daniel Flath, Susan Fox, Thomas Halverson (Chair), Bret Jackson, Alicia Johnson, Daniel Kaplan, Katherine Kinnaird, Karen Saxe, Shilad Sen, Elizabeth Shoop, David Shuman, Chad Higdon-Topaz, Lori Ziegelmeier

Part Time Faculty: Paul Cantrell, David Ehren, Elizabeth Ernst  

Students and faculty in the department cooperate in sponsoring guest speakers, films, student presentations, and social and recreational events. Macalester has an established student chapter of the Association for Computing Machinery, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the national honor society for computer science students.

Mathematics

The department offers courses in pure and applied mathematics and statistics to meet the needs of students with a wide range of interests such as:

  • careers involving applied mathematics, computational science or statistics in business or industry or government (such as biostatistics, econometrics, etc.);
  • secondary school teaching;
  • graduate work in mathematics, operations research, statistics, or computational science.

The department offers a mathematics major and minor, and a statistics minor.

Placement

Entering students should consult the Entry Courses in MSCS link on the department webpage to determine where to start in the mathematics curriculum. 

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the department count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science except those numbered COMP 154 , MATH 212 , MATH 614 , and MATH 624 . Both COMP 154  and MATH 212  count toward the humanities general distribution requirement. MATH 116  is especially appropriate for those students not needing specialized skills or training in mathematics.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and US identities and differences will be posted on the Registrar’s web page in advance of registration for each semester.

Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.

Honors Program

The Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science Department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures, and specific project expectations are available under the MSCS Honors Procedures link on the department web page.

Topics Courses

COMP 194 , COMP 294 , COMP 394 , COMP 494 , MATH 194 , MATH 294 , MATH 394 , MATH 494  

Selected topics in mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics. When the course is offered, the topic and prerequisites for that semester will be announced and posted prior to registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.

Computer Science

Program coordinator: Susan Fox

Two basic principles underlie the teaching of computer science at Macalester. First, the program stresses the fundamental principles of computer science-theory of computation, algorithms, languages, software design, and computer organization-as well as programming and the applications of computer technology. A computer science graduate from Macalester will be well prepared for either advanced study or research and development work in industry. Second, the program is firmly committed to the principles and ideals of a liberal arts education. A computer science major or minor includes both technical requirements as well as extensive course work in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. An important goal of the program is to produce graduates who are self-educators and life-long learners, characteristics that are so important in a rapidly changing discipline.

Placement

Students seeking an introductory computer science course typically choose among three options: COMP 120 , COMP 123 , or COMP 124 . The first three courses are suitable for students with little or no background in computing, programming, or computer science. All three function as both the first course in the major and minor as well as an introduction to the discipline for those not planning to take further coursework (see below for a brief comparison of the three). Students who have significant prior experience of computer science may choose to enroll in COMP 124 - Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures . The rare student may begin coursework beyond that point. Students who are uncertain which course to enroll in should contact the program coordinator for advice.

COMP 120 - Computing and Society , is a survey course that provides a broad overview of the discipline of computer science, including the history of computing and the social and ethical concerns raised by information technology. This course is ideal for students in all fields, especially those in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. It is also appropriate for potential computer science students who would like their first course to be a survey of the field. COMP 123 - Core Concepts in Computer Science , explores computer science through a set of core ideas, theoretical and practical, such as design, implementation, and analysis of algorithms, and common data representations. Currently this course uses applications from media computation and robotics to motivate the central ideas. This course is ideal for students who want to begin with an examination of the fundamental conceptual issues of computer science.

Topics Courses

COMP 194 , COMP 294 , COMP 394 , COMP 494  

Topics of interest to students in the field of computer science but which are not part of the regular curriculum. When the course is offered, the topic and prerequisites for that semester will be announced and posted prior to registration. (4 credits)

Independent Study

The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum  section of the catalog.

Programs

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