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Haverford College
Haverford College Course Catalog

Areas of Concentration / Programs: Scientific Computing, 2010-2011



Many disciplines in the natural and social sciences include a significant sub-discipline that is explicitly computational. Examples include astronomy, biology, chemistry, economics, and physics. In some fields, such as biology, the use of computation has become so widespread that basic literacy in computation is increasingly important and may soon become required. The concentration in scientific computing gives students an opportunity to develop a basic facility with the tools and concepts involved in applying computation to a scientific problem, and to explore the specific computational aspects of their own major disciplines.

Three of the six courses required for the concentration focus exclusively on computing: one is an introduction to computer science and programming, and the other two focus on the general issues of the use of computation in a broad range of scientific disciplines. For the remaining three courses in the concentration, students choose from a list of elective courses offered by a variety of departments. These courses involve the particular use of computation relevant for that particular department. The Scientific Computing web page, ( contains some suggested tracks for a variety of majors, although a student may also design her/his own track in consultation with one of the coordinators of the concentration.

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Assistant Professor of Astronomy and Physics Peter Love, Concentration coordinator
Associate Professor of Biology Robert Fairman, Concentration coordinator
Assistant Professor of Chemistry Casey Londergan, Concentration coordinator
Assistant Professor of Computer Science John Dougherty, Concentration coordinator
Assistant Professor of Economics Indradeep Ghosh, Concentration coordinator
William H. and Johanna A. Harris Associate Professor of Computational Science Robert Manning, Concentration coordinator

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The concentration in scientific computing consists of six courses selected from the following list and approved by the student's concentration advisor. (Note: As per College rules, the CSC consists of 6 required courses. Of these 6 courses, 2-3 count toward both the student's major and concentration.

Students may not count among the 32 course credits required for graduation any course that substantially repeats the content of another course already completed, even though the course numbers may suggest an advancing sequence. For example, both introductory computer science courses, CS H105 and CS B110, cannot be taken for credit.)

  1. A one-semester introduction to Computer Science and programming drawn from the following three courses: CS H105 or CS B110 (Introduction to Computer Science); CS H187 (Scientific Computing – Discrete Problems)
  2. Two courses with a focus on scientific computing from the following list:
    • Math H222: Scientific Computing – Continuous Problems
    • CS H392: Advanced Topics: High Performance Scientific Computing
    • CS H/B206: Introduction to Data Structures
    • CS B250: Computational Models in the Sciences
    • one additional course from the list in part (A) above (though B110 and H105 cannot both be taken)
  3. Three credits worth of electives in which real-world phenomena are investigated using computation, at a significant level as determined by the standards of that discipline. At least one of these three credits must come from a 300-level course or courses (not senior research). These courses should be drawn from the following list:
    • Astronomy H321: Stellar Structure and Evolution
    • Biology H300: Superlab
    • Biology H301: Advanced Genetic Analysis (1/2 credit)
    • Biology H354: Computational Genomics (1/2 credit)
    • Biology H357: Protein Design (1/2 credit)
    • Chemistry H304: Physical Chemistry I
    • Chemistry H305: Physical Chemistry II
    • Chemistry B322: Advanced Physical Chemistry: Mathematical Modeling & Natural Processes
    • CS B120: Visualizing Information
    • CS H225: Fundamentals of Databases
    • CS H235: Information and Coding Theory
    • Economics H365: Computational Methods in Economics
    • Economics S032: Operations Research
    • Math H204/B210: Differential Equations, in years in which it includes significant computer lab exercises involving modeling and/or simulation
    • Math H210: Linear Optimization and Game Theory
    • Math H218: Probability, in years in which it includes significant computer lab exercises involving modeling and/or simulation
    • Math H286: Applied Multivariate Statistical Analysis
    • Math H394: Advanced Topics in Computer Science and Discrete Math
    • Math H397: Advanced Topics in Applied Math
    • Math S056: Modeling
    • Physics H304: Computational Physics
    • Physics B306: Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences
    • Physics H316: Electronic Instrumentation and Computers
    • Physics S026: Chaos, Fractals, Complexity, Self-Organization, and Emergence
    • Up to 1 credit of senior research (e.g., Astronomy H404, Bio H40x, Chemistry H361, CS H480, Math H399, Physics H41x), if the project has a significant focus on scientific computing
  4. Some part of completion of the concentration must include a project-based experience in which computation is applied to investigate a real-world phenomenon, e.g.:
    • A senior thesis/experience with significant scientific computing component, or
    • A summer research experience, or
    • A multi-week project for a course that may (or may not) be one of the three electives that fulfill requirement (C).