Computer Science Program

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Looking at technology today, it is hard to believe that the first computers were developed only seventy years ago. Computers are everywhere, and much of modern engineering involves the application of computer technology. The undergraduate major in computer science offers a broad and rigorous training for students interested in the science of computing. The track structure of the CS program also allows you to pursue the area(s) of CS you find most interesting while giving you a solid overall foundation in the field.

Many students obtaining a BS in CS will go on to work in industry or do graduate work in a branch of CS such as artificial intelligence, robotics, software design, graphics, theory, or hardware design. But CS is not just for future computer scientists. There is an increasing demand for people trained in CS and some other field. If you are interested in working as a manager of a high-tech company, a BS in CS along with an MBA is a great combination. If you want to work on court cases involving software piracy, you will be well served by a BS in CS combined with a JD. Similar opportunities exist for those who combine a BS in CS with an MD or other graduate degree.

The minimum major in computer science consists of 96 units, including 26 units of math, 11 units of science, 13 units of engineering fundamentals, one course in TIS (Technology in Society), and 43 units of core depth. After learning essential programming techniques in CS106 (via the CS106A/B/X courses) and the mathematical foundations of computer science in CS103, the computer science major offers coursework in areas such as artificial intelligence, biocomputation, computer engineering, graphics, human-computer interaction, information, systems, and theory.

The Computer Science Department also participates in two interdisciplinary majors: Mathematical and Computational Sciences, and Symbolic Systems.


In addition to the honors program in CS (discussed later in this handbook), there are many opportunities for undergraduates to get involved in research. Here is a partial list:

CURIS (Undergraduate Research in Computer Science)
Each summer undergraduates work with CS faculty through the summer research college. Interested students apply for positions during the winter quarter, and CURIS decisions are then made and offers sent out before spring quarter begins. These positions are fully-funded and provide invaluable experience in cutting-edge research. All CS students are notified via email of CURIS opportunities and the application process.

Research Opportunities for Computer Science Undergraduates
At the beginning of each academic year CS faculty are asked to provide a list of ongoing research projects that are appropriate for undergraduate involvement. Descriptions of the projects are listed at

Research Tour/Lunch Series
Each year the CS department offers research lab tours and luncheons specifically geared toward undergraduates. These tours allow students to experience first-hand what goes on in a lab, and the luncheons provide an opportunity for students to discuss interests with research faculty. Past tours included the AI Robotics Lab, the IRoom and the Graphics Lab.

Research Seminars and Talks
At various times throughout the year the CS department hosts talks and presentations on various research and technology topics. In addition to these one-time events, there are regularly scheduled seminars which are open to undergraduates. Many of these seminars are available as 1 unit, 500-level courses, but enrollment is not required for attendance.

For Students Interested in Pursuing a Research-Oriented Undergraduate Program:
Freshman and Sophomore Year
Students interested in pursuing research should plan to finish the majority of the CS core (CS 103, 106, 107, 109, 110, and 161) by the end of the sophomore year. If you already have an idea of the area in CS you'd like to pursue, you may find these course suggestions useful:
If you’re considering…
Possible AI courses: make sure to take CS 109 freshman/sophomore year
Possible graphics courses: make sure to take Math 51 and/or Math 104 freshman/sophomore year
Possible theory courses: make sure to take CS 109, CS 154, or CS 161 freshman/sophomore year

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