Computer Science

Virtually all your courses will be a research experience within the lab-based curriculum. You will learn in a department that keeps up with the evolution of computer science yet provides a foundation in its underlying principles: mathematics, logic and language.

Computer science is the study of how information is organized and processed and addresses the design, analysis, implementation, efficiency and application of algorithms and data structures. The question at the root of computer science is – what can be automated? Hamilton students explore that question through hands-on courses and research that are – like the field itself – constantly evolving. The department regularly revises every course and introduces new ones to examine emerging theories and technologies.

Students focus on both the experimental and theoretical sides of computer science, but they also consider the growing place computing has in the modern world. What are the ethical and social risks and benefits of such technology, and how do we manage them?

Emmerson Zhaime '17 in Professor Mark Bailey's computer science class in the Taylor Science Center.
Emmerson Zhaime '17 in Professor Mark Bailey's computer science class in the Taylor Science Center.

How doing research changed a student’s long view

As a rising junior, Emmerson Zhaime ’17 worked with Stuart Hirshfield, the Stephen Harper Kirner Chair of Computer Science, and several other students to study blood oxygen concentration related to meditation, using wireless functional near-infrared spectroscopy to observe changes. Going into the research Zhaime expected to be doing nothing but coding but found himself also teaching study participants to meditate using emWave software and taking oxygen readings as they mediated and rested. “It was good experience for me to think about different applications of computer science apart from the usual technical stuff that I always think of when I think of computer science,” says Zhaime, who majors in computer science and math, is a resident advisor and, in his spare time, is developing a textbook-exchange website for students.

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Amelia Mattern '12 and the English class she worked with during her Fulbright teaching assistantship in Vietnam.

A graduate’s progress: A Fulbright and a master’s

In high school, when her big brother told her she would love computer science, Amelia Mattern ’12 refused to believe him. Still, at Hamilton College she heeded her friends when they extolled their intro computer science course. She signed up. “Well, after about one week I was hooked. We would have weekly lab assignments that I would go home and code up in one afternoon, completely ignoring my other assignments because I was so addicted,” Mattern says.

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