Olin-Rice Science Center, Room 222
General Distribution Requirement
All courses in the department count toward the general distribution requirement in mathematics and natural science except those numbered COMP 154, MATH 212, MATH 614, and MATH 624. Both COMP 154 and MATH 212 count toward the humanities general distribution requirement. MATH 116 is especially appropriate for those students not needing specialized skills or training in mathematics.
General Education Requirements
Courses that meet the general education requirements in writing, quantitative thinking, internationalism and multiculturalism will be posted on the Registrar's web page in advance of registration for each semester.
Additional information regarding the general distribution requirement and the general education requirements can be found in the graduation requirements section of this catalog.
Selected topics in mathematics, applied mathematics, and statistics. Recent courses include Game Theory, Knot Theory and Newton's Principia and the Scientific Revolution. To be announced at registration. (4 credits)
The department offers independent study options in the form of tutorials, independent projects, internships, preceptorships and Honors independent projects. For more information contact the department and review the Curriculum section of the catalog.
Program coordinator: Susan Fox
Two basic principles underlie the teaching of computer science at Macalester. First, the program stresses the fundamental principles of computer science-theory of computation, algorithms, languages, software design, and computer organization-as well as programming and the applications of computer technology. A computer science graduate from Macalester will be well prepared for either advanced study or research and development work in industry. Second, the program is firmly committed to the principles and ideals of a liberal arts education. A computer science major or minor includes both technical requirements as well as extensive course work in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. An important goal of the program is to produce graduates who are self-educators and life-long learners, characteristics that are so important in a rapidly changing discipline.
Students seeking an introductory computer science course typically choose among three options: COMP 120, COMP 123, or COMP 124. The first three courses are suitable for students with little or no background in computing, programming, or computer science. All three function as both the first course in the major and minor as well as an introduction to the discipline for those not planning to take further coursework (see below for a brief comparison of the three). Students who have significant prior experience of computer science may choose to enroll in COMP 124 - Object-Oriented Programming and Data Structures. The rare student may begin coursework beyond that point. Students who are uncertain which course to enroll in should contact the program coordinator for advice.
COMP 120 - Computing and Society, is a survey course that provides a broad overview of the discipline of computer science, including the history of computing and the social and ethical concerns raised by information technology. This course is ideal for students in all fields, especially those in the humanities, social sciences, and fine arts. It is also appropriate for potential computer science students who would like their first course to be a survey of the field. COMP 123 - Core Concepts in Computer Science, explores computer science through a set of core ideas, theoretical and practical, such as design, implementation, and analysis of algorithms, and common data representations. Currently this course uses applications from media computation and robotics to motivate the central ideas. This course is ideal for students who want to begin with an examination of the fundamental conceptual issues of computer science.
Computer Science Major
- Introductory sequence:
- Core courses: the four required core courses COMP 221, COMP 225, COMP 240, and COMP 261.
- Elective courses: A minimum of three advanced elective courses in computer science, numbered 300-500,excluding COMP 490.
- Supporting courses: MATH 136 and any two additional mathematics courses taken at Macalester and approved by the department. Courses which are highly appropriate for computer science majors would include: MATH 135, MATH 137, MATH 155, MATH 236, MATH 313.
- Capstone: The College's capstone graduation requirement in Computer Science is satisfied by:
- passing an approved capstone course (COMP 342, COMP 346, COMP 380, COMP 440, COMP 445, COMP 469, COMP 484) or passing an Independent Study associated with an Honors thesis, and
- giving a public presentation of your work to a general audience on Capstone Day in April, and
- participating in all departmental senior capstone meetings
The capstone course must be taken junior year or fall of senior year. Each course designated as such will include a serious semester project, and each Computer Science
major must pass the project part of the class.
In addition to the three required mathematics courses, students are strongly encouraged to include some of the following courses as part of their elective program: MATH 155 - Introduction to Statistical Modeling, MATH 236 - Linear Algebra, MATH 253 - Statistical Computing and Machine Learning, MATH 254 - Probability and Mathematical Statistics, MATH 313 - Advanced Symbolic Logic, MATH 455 - Mathematical Statistics, and MATH 432 - Mathematical Modeling.
Students who plan to attend graduate school in computer science are encouraged to take more than the minimum number of computer science electives as well as additional supporting work in related disciplines. In order to ensure orderly progress through the curriculum, introductory courses (COMP 120 or COMP 123, COMP 124) and core courses (COMP 221, COMP 225, COMP 240, and COMP 261) should generally be completed before a student enrolls in advanced electives or begins an independent project.
A typical computer science major would take the following courses toward the major in the first two years:
However, there is a good deal of flexibility in the computer science program, and a student's exact schedule will be determined only after consultation with his or her major advisor.
Computer Science Minor
Requirements for a minor in computer science are:
Five courses in computer science numbered 120-489. Minor plans including more than one crosslisted course require departmental approval. (Note: Credit can be awarded for only one of the introductory courses COMP 120 or COMP 123.)
Students earn a major in Mathematics by choosing between two paths: Mathematics or Applied Mathematics and Statistics.
Requirements for Mathematics are:
- Discrete Mathematics: the introductory course MATH 136. Exceptionally well-prepared students may replace this course with a second course from 3 or 4, below.
- Linear Algebra and Multivariable Calculus: the two courses MATH 236 and MATH 237. We recommend that these be completed by the end of the sophomore year.
- Discrete Core: At least one of: MATH 373, MATH 376, MATH 379.
- Continuous Core: At least one of: MATH 312, MATH 371, MATH 377.
- Depth Course: At least one of the following, which must be taken at Macalester: MATH 432, MATH 437, MATH 469, MATH 471, MATH 476, MATH 477, MATH 478 .
- Elective: At least two other Mathematics course numbered MATH 254, 300–489, or MATH 494.
- Supporting Courses:
- Capstone: The College's capstone graduation requirement in Mathematics will be satisfied by
- passing an approved capstone course (MATH 353, MATH 355, MATH 373, MATH 432, MATH 437, MATH 469, MATH 471, MATH 476, MATH 477, or MATH 478) or registering for an Independent Study associated with an Honors thesis, and
- giving a public presentation of your work to a general audience on Capstone Day in April.
- The capstone course must be taken junior or senior year. Each course designated as such will include a serious semester project, and each math major must pass the project part of the class. Additionally, each capstone-designated course will require students to attend at least two departmental seminars.
Note to students preparing for graduate work in mathematics: You should take MATH 376, MATH 377, and several courses chosen from MATH 471, MATH 476, MATH 477, MATH 478. Take the GREs during the fall of your senior year.
Requirements in Applied Mathematics and Statistics are:
- The three introductory courses: MATH 155 (S), MATH 236 , and MATH 237 .
- At least five intermediate or advanced courses, chosen from this list:
- MATH 253 (S, C), MATH 254 (S), MATH 312, MATH 353 (S), MATH 355 (S), MATH 365 (S, C), MATH 377, MATH 432, MATH 437, MATH 455, MATH 469;
- COMP 302 (S, C), COMP 484 (S, C);
- A topics course (MATH 294, MATH 394, MATH 494) specifically identified as fulfilling the requirement;
- At most one of the following courses from allied departments:
- Two or more courses with a Computation (C) designation:
- Three or more courses with a Statistical (S) designation, which may meet other requirements of the major.
- Integrative Experience in the form of at least one of the following:
- An internship or summer research project approved by the department;
- A minor or major in another department tied to applied mathematics or statistics (e.g., physics, economics, psychology, sociology, chemistry, biology, geology, geography, environmental studies) approved on a case-by-case basis by the department.
- A preceptorship in two of the courses included in the applied mathematics requirement;
- Capstone: The College's capstone graduation requirement in Applied Mathematics will be satisified by
- passing an approved capstone course (MATH 353, MATH 355, MATH 432, MATH 437, MATH 469, or other capstone courses as approved by the department on a case-by-case basis) or registering for an Independent Study associated with an Honors thesis, and
- giving a public presentation of your work to a general audience on Capstone Day in April.
- The capstone course must be taken junior or senior year. Each course designated as such will include a serious semester project, and each AMS major must pass the project part of the class. Additionally, each capstone-designated course will require students to attend at least two departmental seminars. The capstone-designated course may meet other requirements of the Applied Mathematics and Statistics major.
Note to students preparing for graduate work: You should plan your major with consideration of the entrance requirements for your specific field in consultation with a faculty member in the department. Take the GREs during the fall of your senior year.
To obtain a minor in mathematics, you must complete the following:
- MATH 136, MATH 236, MATH 237 and at least 8 semester credits from Mathematics courses numbered 300–489, except topics courses unless prior departmental approval has been given.
- COMP 123 or an equivalent course.
To obtain a minor in statistics, you must complete the following:
COMP 123 or an equivalent course; MATH 155; and any 3 of the following: MATH 253 - Statistical Computing and Machine Learning , MATH 254 - Probability and Mathematical Statistics, MATH 353 - Survival Analysis, MATH 355.