Associate Professor Yoon, Chair
Computer technologies and computing concepts have infused virtually every area of academic study. This interdisciplinary major is designed for students who wish to combine the study of computing and computers with another academic discipline. Students can combine the study of computing with traditional academic disciplines, such as physics, chemistry, sociology, or biology, and with emerging fields that involve a substantial computing component, such as bioinformatics, cognitive science, digital arts, and computational economics.
Students who elect this major will design a course of study in consultation with two faculty advisers, one in computer science and one in the coordinate discipline. Together they must develop a coherent course of study consisting of an appropriate selection of courses in mathematics, computer science, and the coordinate discipline. The specific courses that make up the major will vary according to the particular focus of the major, but all approved majors will have the following general requirements.
Computer science core
Computer science electives—Three courses appropriate to the coordinate discipline, to be chosen in consultation with the computer science adviser.
Mathematics—Students coordinating with a discipline in the natural or social sciences must take, at minimum, MATH 131 and one additional course from the following: any mathematics course numbered 107 or higher, PHIL 390, POLS 241, PSYC 221L, and SOCL 201L (MATH 125 and 126 may be substituted for MATH 131). Students coordinating with a discipline in the arts and humanities must take MATH 125 or be eligible to enroll in MATH 131. Additional mathematics courses are to be specified in a study plan.
Coordinate courses—Six to seven courses in the coordinate discipline to be chosen in consultation with the coordinate adviser.
Senior exercise—A yearlong senior exercise (CPSC 498 and 499) consisting of an approved capstone project, plus participation in the computer science senior seminar (CPSC 403 and 404). The senior project will involve substantial research or study or development that brings coherence to the student’s overall course of study. It must be approved by the Computer Science Department at the end of the spring term of the junior year. Both CPSC 403 and 404 fulfill the writing Intensive Part II requirement.
To be admitted to the major, students must receive a grade of C- or better in CPSC 203 and CPSC 215L and must submit an approved plan of study in consultation with their advisers.
The interdisciplinary computing major provides a student with the flexibility to design a course of study that combines computing and any other discipline. The following tracks are provided as guiding examples. The courses listed here do not constitute formal requirements but rather illustrate some of the specific topics that may be included in a course of study.
Modern molecular biology has come increasingly to rely on computers for genome sequencing, protein folding, the analysis of cell structures and processes, and for approaching many other biological problems. Students interested in this field of study should combine computer science, mathematics, and biology into a coherent plan of study that might consist of the following:
Artificial intelligence and cognitive science
How can computers and robots be made to behave intelligently? Can the human brain and human intelligence be understood by means of computational models? What are some of the social and ethical implications posed by intelligent machines? Students interested in this area should combine psychology and philosophy courses with appropriate computer science and mathematics courses as follows:
Economics and computing
Computing technology and concepts have become increasingly important in all areas of economics and finance, from analysis to security to modeling and visualization. Study in this area might also focus on some of the economic impacts of computing in areas such as online media or intellectual property law. A course of study in this area would draw on:
Computing capabilities have expanded the expressive potential of humans by providing software-based mechanisms to create, manipulate, present, and catalogue images, sound, and video. Students can explore the inter-relationship between computing and the arts via a course of study combining computing with the study of studio arts, fine arts, or music. A suggested course of study may include:
Additional tracks—Courses of study are not limited to the examples given above. Students are also encouraged to design their own tracks that suit their interests under the following general guidelines.
Physical sciences and engineering
Study of computing can be combined with any of the traditional physical science and engineering disciplines (e.g., chemistry, physics). There are many exciting scientific applications of computing, including data mining and analysis, data visualization, computational modeling, and other areas. Computational chemists use computers to calculate the structures and properties of molecules. Computational physicists use numerical algorithms to build models and solve problems in quantum mechanics. Students interested in an interdisciplinary course of study in this area would take six or seven courses in the coordinate discipline plus an appropriate selection of courses in mathematics and computing:
Study of computing can be combined with any of the traditional social science disciplines such as sociology and political science. Study in these areas might focus on some of the social and political implications of computing in modern society—the digital divide, the open source movement, social impacts of digital media. Students interested in an interdisciplinary course of study in a social science would take six or seven courses in the coordinate discipline plus an appropriate selection of courses in mathematics and computing.
Arts and humanities
Study of computing can be combined with almost any of the traditional humanities and art disciplines. Students interested in history could focus on the history of computing. Philosophers could focus on a wealth of interesting philosophical questions. A student interested in art or art history could focus on the increasing use and importance of computers in the art world. Combining computing with an art or humanities discipline would require eight or nine courses in the coordinate discipline plus an appropriate selection of computing courses:
Honors—Honors are awarded to qualified students by vote of the computer science faculty. Typically, to attain honors in the major, a student must have four grades of A- or higher and no grade lower than B in the top eight courses counted toward the major, four of which come from computing and mathematics courses numbered 200 or higher and four of which come from courses in the coordinate department.
Study away—Students are strongly urged to consult with their adviser as early as possible in the process of preparing to study abroad. Students should have completed the foundation requirement (CPSC 115L, CPSC 215L, and CPSC 203) before studying abroad. Students must consult with their faculty advisers to identify classes that will be acceptable for transfer credits from their study-abroad institution. Students must fulfill the yearlong requirement of computer science seminar (CPSC 403 and 404) and the associated senior project during their senior year at Trinity.