Jun 26, 2019  
College Catalog 2013-2014 
    
College Catalog 2013-2014 [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science


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

Part Time Faculty: David Ehren, A. Wayne Roberts, Stan Wagon

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 who have studied calculus in high school and who wish to enroll in a course more advanced than the entry level course, MATH 135 , Applied Calculus, should consult the program coordinator of mathematics about choices among Mathematics MATH 136 , MATH 137 , MATH 155 , MATH 236 , MATH 237 . Students with weak high school preparation in mathematics are encouraged to consult with the mathematics counselor in the MAX Center.

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the department count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science except those numbered MATH 265 , MATH 614 , and MATH 624 . MATH 265  counts 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 multiculturalism 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 and computer science department participates in the honors program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures, and specific project expectations are available either from the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.

Topics Courses

MATH 194 , MATH 294 , MATH 394 , MATH 494 

Selected topics in mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics. Recent courses include Game Theory, Knot Theory and Newton’s Principia and the Scientific Revolution. To be announced at 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 four options: COMP 120 , COMP 121 , 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 121 - Introduction to Scientific Programming , focuses on the applications of computing in the physical sciences, natural sciences, and other fields such as economics and geography. This would be an ideal first course for students majoring in a scientific or quantitative area. It is also appropriate for potential computer science students who would like their first course to be an introduction to a scientifically-oriented language such as MatLab and its use in solving a range of interesting scientific problems. The third course, 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.

General Distribution Requirement

All courses in the computer science program count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science except for COMP 154 , which counts towards humanities general distribution. Topics courses will be considered for general distribution requirements on an individual basis.

General Education Requirements

Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and multiculturalism 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 and computer science department participates in the Honors Program. Eligibility requirements, application procedures and specific project expectations are available either from the department office or the Director of Academic Programs.

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