Computer science is a distinct discipline within the liberal arts and sciences. While its roots are in mathematics, science, and technology, computer science offers a unique way of thinking about solving complex problems. Computer science students grow to understand the power of computers and algorithms, their limitations, and their relationships with the natural sciences, social sciences, and humanities. The liberal arts setting thus provides a natural home for studying computer science and its interconnectedness with the modern world.
Students of computer science will gain insight into a technology on which we increasingly rely, while learning new ways of thinking and tools to solve problems in many domains. Central to computer science is the concept of an algorithm—a precise, repeatable procedure for solving a well-defined problem. Computer scientists discover, define, and characterize computational problems; they design, implement, and evaluate algorithmic solutions.
Whitman currently offers a minor in computer science. With three new faculty, our curriculum is growing rapidly. A new major in computer science will appear in the 2017-18 course catalog.
In CS 167, Introduction to Computational Problem Solving, students learn fundamental algorithmic concepts applied to a variety of domains. Intermediate and upper level courses emphasize three major themes:
- Study of theory provides mathematical approaches for characterizing problems, algorithms, and languages.
- Study of systems provides constructive and empirical approaches for understanding computing infrastructure.
- Study of applications provides both general software development skills and specialized algorithmic approaches to fulfill human needs and desires
In anticipation of this new major, two dedicated Computer Science Labs were built in Olin Hall during the summer of 2015. The introductory lab has 30 workstations and is configured to facilitate pair programming. The advanced lab has 16 workstations configured to facilitate both teaching and individual and group projects.