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Program Information

Advances in computer science are responsible for technological innovations that have revolutionized many aspects of our lives. Computer scientists and computational thinkers will achieve further breakthroughs that can only barely be imagined today. To accomplish these tasks in ways that are sensitive to the needs of individuals and society, we need highly educated computer scientists with a strong background in the liberal arts. The courses offered by the Pomona College Computer Science Department, together with those offered by Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna Colleges, empower both majors and non-majors to leverage and to contribute to this rapidly evolving field.

Computer science investigates the nature of computation, with applications ranging from the design of sophisticated programs and machines for solving difficult problems to understanding how the mind works. It is a science, but it is not about nature. Like a natural science, computer science has theoretical and experimental components. It is unlike the natural sciences in that computer scientists design some of their own objects of study. It has links to mathematics, linguistics, philosophy and cognitive science, as well as applications in the arts, sciences, social sciences and humanities.

In computer science courses, students learn to work alone and in teams to analyze, decompose and solve complex problems. They learn to conceptualize multiple views of a problem, to develop solutions grounded in theory and to evaluate their solutions using a range of metrics. In addition to mastering overarching principles, students also become skilled in the core areas of computer science: theory, systems, programming languages and algorithms. They then apply their knowledge in advanced electives on topics including operating systems, artificial intelligence, computer graphics, human computer interaction, natural language processing, high-performance computing, computer security and robotics. Students also learn about the theoretical, practical and ethical ramifications of computational solutions to problems. Bi-weekly colloquia expose students to current research in computer science and introduce them to career options in the field.

Students will develop the ability to independently explore technical innovations. An independent senior project allows students to design, implement and analyze the solution to a modern computing problem of their choice, while also providing experience in the communication of their ideas through both oral presentations and technical writing.

Introductory Courses

The department offers introductory courses designed for students with a wide variety of backgrounds and interests. Like first courses in other sciences, CSCI 051 PO, CSCI 052 PO and CSCI 062 PO are suitable both for students who want to broaden their liberal arts education and for those who seek preparation for more advanced courses. CSCI 030 PO - Computation and Cognition with Lab, is intended especially for students majoring in cognitive science but will also be of interest to other students interested in the connections between computing and human cognition. Because CSCI 030 PO does not serve as a prerequisite for most advanced courses in computer science, students who contemplate majoring or minoring in computer science are urged to start with a course numbered CSCI 051 PO or higher.

CSCI 030 PO and CSCI 051 PO are designed for students who have no experience in programming. Students who have Advanced Placement or similar preparation may enter directly into either CSCI 052 PO or CSCI 062 PO if they have knowledge of the programming language that was used the previous semester in CSCI 051 PO. Contact the department for more information.

Pomona collaborates with the other Claremont Colleges in the offering of advanced coursework in Computer Science. The introductory sequence of courses (CSCI 051 PO, CSCI 052 PO, and CSCI 062 PO) prepares students for advanced courses at Pomona, Harvey Mudd and Claremont McKenna Colleges and provides preparation equivalent to the Harvey Mudd sequence of CSCI 005 HM, CSCI 060 HM and CSCI 070 HM. However, the introductory courses at Harvey Mudd College beyond CSCI 005 HM are not available to Pomona College students. Anyone contemplating a major or minor in Computer Science should start in the appropriate course in the Pomona College sequence. For advanced courses, a prerequisite of CSCI 060 HM will be satisfied by CSCI 052 PO, while a prerequisite of CSCI 070 HM will be satisfied by taking both CSCI 052 PO and CSCI 062 PO. The classes CSCI 051 CM and CSCI 062 CM at Claremont McKenna are considered equivalent to the Pomona classes of the same name and number.