Computer Science

Computer Science is the study of algorithms, how they scale, and the design of computational systems. Algorithms are step-by-step procedures for solving problems. Early courses in computer science develop programming skills in order to express algorithms and solve problems using a computer. Computer scientists do much more than write programs, though. We study the nature of what is computable, build machines that blend both hardware and software (robots and other computer-controlled devices), build intelligent systems (artificial intelligence, machine learning, etc), build communication systems (networks), and anything else that involves a computer or an algorithm (everything digital).

We offer two introductory courses: a study of contemporary computing concepts (CS 100), and our entry point to the concentration, CS 110. CS 110 is a traditional introduction to computer science through programming, and is a prerequisite for CS 111, in which we explore data structures that are used to represent information in a program and the algorithms that manipulate this information. CS 112 is a data structures course for students with previous programming experience.

The Computer Science curriculum is hierarchical in its prerequisite structure, so if you are considering a CS concentration, we advise getting started early with CS 110 (or 112, if your background makes this an appropriate choice). This is especially true if there is a possibility that you will be going away for all or part of your junior year. If you have prior programming experience, you should contact the department chair to determine whether you are eligible for advanced placement.

100F Contemporary Computing Concepts.
The course demonstrates how modern, familiar instances of computing technology–Siri, jpeg files, streaming data, the cloud, hacking, social media, drones, self-driving cars and Watson–all derive from the “big ideas” that make up the field of Computer Science. Topics include what it means to “compute,” building machines to compute, how humans communicate with computers, computer networks, computer security, current and future computer applications. Students will use a variety of programs to experiment with all ideas presented. No knowledge of computer programming required. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Not open to students who have completed 110. May not be counted toward the concentration or the minor. Enrollment limit - 26 per section. Maximum enrollment, 26. Hirshfield.

105S Explorations in Computer Science.
Origami is an ancient art that has (in recent centuries) developed into an fruitful geometric tool, and (in recent decades) has proven to play a useful role in engineering and medical applications. We will study origami with the assistance of the programming language Processing, which was designed with art in mind. We will also build a basic Japanese vocabulary, so that we can describe our actions in more than one language. No prior computer experience is expected. Not open to students who have completed 110. May not be counted toward the concentration or the minor. Perkins. Maximum enrollment, 26. Perkins.

110F,S Introduction to Computer Science.
The first course in computer science is an introduction to algorithmic problem-solving using the Python programming language. Topics include primitive data types, mathematical operations, structured programming with conditional and iterative idioms, functional abstraction, objects, classes and aggregate data types. Students apply these skills in writing programs to solve problems in a variety of application areas. No previous programming experience necessary. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Maximum enrollment, 26. The Department.

111F,S Data Structures.
A second course in programming, concentrating on the implementation of dynamic structures for data representation. Students will write programs in the C++ programming language which implement the following classic data structures, among others: stacks, lists, queues, hash tables, and trees. Course discussion will emphasize recursion, efficient implementations in terms of memory space and running time, computational complexity of algorithms, and introduction to two important fields of study: searching and sorting. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 110, or placement by the department. Maximum enrollment, 26. Campbell.

112F Problem Solving and Data Structures.
An accelerated first course in programming. Students demonstrate skill in writing programs to solve problems using Python in a variety of application areas. Concentrates on the implementation of dynamic structures for data representation. Students will write programs in the C++ programming language to implement classic data structures. Course discussion will emphasize recursion, efficient implementations in terms of memory space and running time, computational complexity of algorithms, and introduction to two important fields of study: searching and sorting. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, High school AP Computer Science A score of 4 or 5 or placement by the department. Previous programming experience required. Maximum enrollment, 20. Bailey.

123F,S Discrete Mathematics.
Study of mathematical models and techniques commonly used in computer science. Emphasis on analytical and logical skills, including an introduction to proof techniques and formal symbolic manipulation. Topics include set theory, number theory, permutations and combinations, mathematical induction and graph theory. Topics will be reinforced with hands-on experiences using the ML programming language. Appropriate for students with strong pre-calculus backgrounds. No previous programming experience necessary. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Not open to seniors; open to juniors by consent of instructor. Perkins.

210F Applied Theory.
An investigation of the nature of computation through development of several models of computation. Topics include finite state machines, pushdown automata and Turing machines, the Chomsky language hierarchy, discussion of computational complexity, and illustration of how these abstract models of computation may be applied to language recognition problems such as lexical analysis and parsing. (Quantitative and Symbolic Reasoning.) Prerequisite, 123; or, senior standing and permission of instructor. Decker.

220S Principles of Programming Languages.
Investigation into the nature, features, design and implementation of programming languages. Students will gain experience with a wide variety of programming languages through programming exercises. Topics will include, among others, object-oriented programming, functional programming, higher-order functions, type systems and polymorphism. Prerequisite, 111 or 112; or, senior standing and permission of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 24. Hirshfield.

240F Computer Organization and Assembly Language.
A study of the connection between high-level programs and the machines on which they run by means of extensive programming experience using assembly language. Topics will include translation of high-level language idioms into assembly language, number systems and representation schemes, exceptions, interrupts, polling, and an introduction to the structure of the underlying hardware. In the final project, students develop an assembler. Prerequisite, 111 or 112 or senior standing and permission of instructor. Maximum enrollment, 24. Hirshfield.

[290F,S] Programming Challenges.
Study of classic programming problems from regional and national programming competitions. Students are required to participate in a regional programming contest. Prerequisite, CPSCI 111 or 112, and consent of instructor. One-quarter course credit. Offered credit/no credit. May be repeated. Students may count up to one credit from courses numbered 290-298 toward graduation. Maximum enrollment, 20.

[307] Topics in Computer Science II.
In this course we will explore the state-of-the-art in natural language processing, that is, algorithms for extracting useful information from written text, and tools that employ these algorithms in various ways. Topics include NL parsing, morphological analysis, part-of-speech tagging, semantic mapping of terms, knowledge representation, and ontologies. A particular domain of interest, though not an exclusive one, will be the extraction of knowledge from abstracts of scientific papers in bio-medicine. Prerequisite, CPSCI 110. Maximum enrollment, 10.

310F Compilers.
Study of the translation of high-level languages into assembly language. Topics will include tokenizing, parsing, type checking, code generation and optimization. Each student will implement a significant portion of a compiler. Programming intensive. Prerequisite, 210, 220 and 240. Maximum enrollment, 24. Bailey.

320S Computer Architecture.
Study of how computers are built. Starting with fundamental logic gates, students will learn how to construct fundamental computational, memory and control components using digital logic. Students study the implementation of arithmetic logic units, processor control and datapath design. Topics will include performance analysis, pipelining, cache design, virtual memory, disk storage, and multicore design. Theory intensive. Prerequisite, 240. Some programming required. Maximum enrollment, 24. Bailey.

[330S] Algorithms.
Discussion of the canon of standard algorithms, with analysis of time and space complexity. Topics will include, among others: sorting, searching and selection; numerical algorithms; string matching; graph algorithms; parallel algorithms; non-determinism and NP-completeness. Theory intensive. Prerequisite, 111 or 112, and 123. Maximum enrollment, 24.

340S Operating Systems.
Study of the design and implementation of computer operating systems. Students will develop at least four significant projects related to the topics of process scheduling, interprocess communication, memory management, file systems, access control, device drivers and security. Programming intensive. Prerequisite, 240. Maximum enrollment, 24. Decker.

[350F] Database Theory and Practice.
A study of modern database systems. Topics include data models, query languages, topics in database design, efficiency issues in query processing and database system architecture. Typical activities will consist of design and analysis of parts of a relational database, implementing queries in the SQL language, and time and space analysis of possible database architectures. Theory intensive. Prerequisite, 111 or 112. Maximum enrollment, 24.

[375S] Artificial Intelligence.
Exploration of AI theory and philosophy, as well as a variety of algorithms and data structures, such as heuristic strategies, logic unification, probabilistic reasoning, semantic networks and knowledge representation. Topics include application areas such as natural language understanding, computer vision, game playing, theorem proving and autonomous agents. Programming intensive. Prerequisite, 220. (Same as Neuroscience 375.) Maximum enrollment, 24.

410F Senior Seminar.
Practicum in which teams of students provide computer expertise and support for faculty research projects. Topics include software engineering analysis, design, coding, testing, maintenance, and documentation. Prerequisite, 210, 220 and 240. Open to senior concentrators only. Maximum enrollment, 24. Decker.

[420] Readings in Computer Science.
Reading in a field of computer science. The class will read several papers assigned weekly from research conference proceedings and journals. Classes will consist of discussions of the day's paper(s). Students will develop a comprehensive annotated bibliography and lead the daily discussions. Does not count toward the concentration or minor. Prerequisite, Consent of instructor. May be repeated for credit with permission of the department. Maximum enrollment, 6.

500S Honors Thesis.
A semester-length research project. Open to qualified senior concentrators. Prerequisite, Three 300-level courses numbered 310 and above, 410 and consent of the department. Maximum enrollment, 26. Bailey.