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What is Computer Science?

When people hear the word "computer", they often think about word processing, email, the Internet, and computer games. They then assume that "computer science" is about fixing computer hardware, installing software, and designing web pages. In reality, the academic discipline called computer science has a very different emphasis.

Computer science is a study of precisely defined problem-solving strategies, often called algorithms. The field encompasses a variety of topics, some of which overlap with the disciplines of mathematics, logic, linguistics, philosophy, and engineering. Since the main application of algorithms is in the design of computer software, this discipline has become known as "computer science".

Who should consider studying computer science?

Students who like puzzles, precise thinking, and new challenges are often drawn to computer science. True to the liberal arts traditions of the College, the computer science program emphasizes fundamental aspects of the discipline that develop critical thinking. This frequently appeals to students with interests in mathematics, physics, chemistry, philosophy, logic, economics, engineering, or linguistics.

What is the difference between computer science and other computing fields?

Compared to other computing fields, computer science is a more abstract discipline that focuses on algorithms. In contrast, software engineering centers on the managing of large software development projects, and information systems concentrates on the use of existing computer applications. You can learn more about computing fields at: http://computingcareers.acm.org

Do I need to be good in math to study computer science?

Yes. We believe that mathematics, especially discrete mathematics, is one of the keys to any serious study of computer science. Thus, the requirements for our major include a strong mathematical component. In addition, quantitative reasoning and mathematical rigor are stressed throughout the Computer Science curriculum.

Do I need previous computer programming experience?

No. Although all of our students use computers in everyday life, most of them have no programming experience before taking our introductory courses.

What programs do you offer?

The College offers a major and minor in computer science and a dual major in computer science and mathematics. Also, students may double major in computer science and other disciplines.

What programming languages do you cover?

Java is used in The Art of Programming course to introduce students to the concept of an algorithm. More advanced courses promote a language-independent view of algorithms.

Do I have to own a computer to major in computer science?

No. Although owning a personal computer is useful for our and many other college classes, you do not have to own one to major in computer science. The department computer lab has all the needed software installed and is accessible to students.

What is the average Computer Science class size?

The average Computer Science class size, over the period of the last six years, has been 10 students.

What courses should I take first?

The typical first year sequence consists of The Art of Programming in the fall and Discrete Mathematics in the spring semester.

 


Lewis Hall of Science 114, McDaniel College, Westminster, Maryland 21157-4390; Phone: 410-857-2470, Fax: 410-386-4624.