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Haverford College

2012-13 Course Catalog

Areas of Concentration / Programs: Scientific Computing, 2012-2013



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.

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Concentration Coordinator John Dougherty
Peter Love
Philip Meneely
Joshua Schrier

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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, students may count two to three of the required six courses toward both the 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, students cannot take both introductory computer science courses, CMSC H105 and BMC CMSC B110, for credit.)

  1. A one-semester introduction to computer science and programming selected from the following three courses: CMSC 105 or BMC CS 110 (Introduction to Computer Science); CMSC 187 (Scientific Computing: Discrete Problems)
  2. Two courses with a focus on scientific computing from the following list:
    • MATH H222 (Scientific Computing—Continuous Problems)
    • CMSC H287 (Advanced Topics: High Performance Scientific Computing)
    • CMSC H106 or BMC CMSC B206 (Introduction to Data Structures)
    • CMSC B250 (Computational Models in the Sciences)
    • one additional course from the list in part (A) above (though a student cannot take both CMSC B110 and CMSC H105)
  3. Three credits of electives that investigate real-world phenomena 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) selected from the following list:
    • ASTR H341 (Advanced Topics in Astrophysics: Observational Astronomy)
    • ASTR H342 (Advanced Topics in Astrophysics: Modern Galactic Astronomy)
    • ASTR H343 (Stellar Structure and Evolution)
    • BIOL H300 (Superlab)
    • BIOL H301 (Advanced Genetic Analysis; 1/2 credit)
    • BIOL H354 (Computational Genomics; 1/2 credit)
    • BIOL H357 (Topics in Protein Science; 1/2 credit)
    • CHEM H304 (Physical Chemistry I; Statistical Thermodynamics and Kinetics)
    • CHEM H305 (Physical Chemistry II; Quantum Chemistry)
    • CHEM B321 (Advanced Physical Chemistry)
    • CMSC B120 (Visualizing Information)
    • CMSC H225 (Fundamentals of Databases)
    • CMSC H235 (Information and Coding Theory)
    • ECON H365 (Computational Methods in Economics)
    • ECON S032 (Operations Research)
    • MATH H204/BMC Math 210 (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)
    • PHYS H304 (Computational Physics)
    • PHYS B306 (Mathematical Methods in the Physical Sciences)
    • PHYS H316 (Electronic Instrumentation and Computers)
    • PHYS S026 (Chaos, Fractals, Complexity, Self-Organization, and Emergence)
    • Up to 1 credit of senior research (e.g., ASTR 404, VIOL 400-409, CHEM 361, CMSC 480, MATH 399 or PHYS 410-419), 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 the student applies computation to investigate a real-world phenomenon, e.g.:
    • a senior thesis/experience with significant scientific computing component
    • a summer research experience
    • a multi-week project for a course that may (or may not) be one of the three electives that fulfill requirement (C).