Programs of Study: Mathematics and Computer Science
The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers programs of study leading to a bachelor of arts degree in mathematics and a bachelor of science degree in computer science.
From Plato to Einstein, mathematics has been recognized as a means to explain the world and as a subject worthy of study for its own sake. We aim to introduce our majors to both the utility and the beauty of mathematics so that they may use it in whatever professional area they choose after graduation. Our students are liberal arts majors who learn to think logically and to solve problems needing quantitative skills. They have room in their course of study to pursue second majors and recent Mathematics majors have taken a second major in biology, computer science, economics, engineering-physics, music, secondary education, and psychology. We have graduates who become actuaries, high-school or college math teachers, lawyers, or pursue M.B.A.’s. Our majors are not surprised at the “unreasonable effectiveness of math” in areas that never expected to use it.
The program grounds students in analysis and algebra, the two areas which are foundational both for further study in, and for obtaining a deeper insight into, higher mathematics. Students have the opportunity to take elective courses in combinatorics, computer science, differential equations, geometry, statistics and topology. The faculty is active in the professional mathematical societies often hosting conferences and bringing students to present papers at conferences. This allows us to make sure our curriculum fulfills national expectations for mathematics majors.
The true hallmark of the program is the willingness of the faculty to work with students one-on-one in small elective courses or in reading courses. This year’s top ranked student mentioned in his graduation speech that the doors of the faculty in biology and mathematics are always open to students. Our faculty have taught courses for one or two students.
We have an active tutorial program that provides students a chance to explain mathematics to others. This deepens the tutors’ understanding as much as it helps those who are tutored.
Our students have presented papers at the Eastern Colleges Science Conference and the sectional meetings of the MAA. They have participated in the challenging national Putnam Exams for many years and have had success in these.
Computer Science is a young field with roots in mathematics and engineering. We view it as our mission to develop students who can use the current tools of computer science but, more importantly, develop and understand the new tools of the discipline. Understanding how to express solutions of problems so that a computer can assist in their solution is the important lesson we hope our students learn.
Our major is software-oriented. Our senior course studies the algorithms of operating systems and we require students to take the mathematics that has proven to provide algorithms for solving real-world problems.
Most of our students take one or more independent readings course in which they work closely with a faculty member. They have to make a presentation at the end of the semester and often, they produce a poster for a regional computer science conference. The faculty is involved in local and national computer societies and frequently host regional conferences. The department sends one or more teams to the ACM programming contest yearly.
Our students take internships in local businesses and often are hired by these businesses after they graduate. We have a special internship relationship with the Providence school system in which we provide computer expertise to assist the teachers in several local elementary schools. This involves college students in computer science, mathematics, and education. With the assistance of our students, the department runs the largest local high-school programming contest in New England, attracting students from four states including schools from Boston and New York City. Our students are a major source for jobs in the academic computing center on campus and maintain the student web site.
We encourage students to work together since this is the industry paradigm. We use upper-class students as tutors to give them experience in explaining how to program and to develop a bond among the students. It is important that students realize that computer positions require social skills.
For a listing of course descriptions and degree requirements, please click on the links below to the course catalog.
Bachelor of Arts
Bachelor of Science