Who are we?
We are a joint department offering two distinct degrees, one in Mathematics and one in Computer Science. We are home to 10 full-time faculty, 6 of whom primarily teach mathematics and 4 of whom primarily teach computer science. Altogether, we teach roughly 20 courses each semester, with an average class size of 25 in the introductory classes and 5 to 15 in the advanced classes.
We are located on the second floor of F.W. Olin Science Hall, where we maintain 3 computer labs and ample classroom and study space.
What is mathematics?
Mathematics is the study of abstraction. Mathematicians search for similar patterns in seemingly different settings and then strive to communicate those patterns precisely. Mathematics is a creative process, not a mechanical one. For example, finding the circumference of a circle with the formula 2πr is simply calculation; the discovery of π was (ancient) mathematics. Likewise, the discovery of Calculus was a great feat of Mathematics, but applying Calculus to find the acceleration of an object is not.
At Denison, you will initially continue your high school Calculus education, but quickly be exposed to some of the more fascinating questions that really excite mathematicians.
For more perspectives on mathematics, look here.
What is computer science?
Computer Science is the study of information processes, or algorithms. Computation and information processes have become ubiquitous and essential to fields as diverse as biology, economics, physics, game design, management science, geology, and animation. Computer scientists design algorithms to solve problems, mathematically analyze them to assess their correctness and efficiency, and implement them as computer programs. Computer science is not about writing code; it is much more interesting! In fact, coding is often the easiest part of a project; discovering first how to solve the problem is much harder!
At Denison, we emphasize the enduring core ideas of computer science and their applications to areas like networking, artificial intelligence, cryptology, computer architecture, software engineering, and robotics. With your knowledge deeply rooted in this core, you will be able to apply your education to whatever new technology you face (or create).
For a fuller perspective on modern computer science, take a look at this article.
We think we have a pretty great department. Here's why.
Our alumni have gone on to do great things. Every year, several students choose to continue their studies at good graduate schools. Other students find interesting work after graduation in education, finance, software development, and other fields.
We don't teach rote formulas in mathematics or transient technologies in computer science. If we did, you would need to go back to school soon after graduation because your knowledge would be obsolete already! Besides, these things are not really mathematics or computer science. To prepare students to tackle whatever challenges lay ahead, we emphasize the fundamental and enduring concepts of the disciplines. In addition, students who study Mathematics or Computer Science at Denison develop proficiency in analytical thinking, problem solving, and oral and written communication.
We teach those fundamental concepts in the context of relevant and engaging topics. Our introductory calculus sequence exposes students to mathematics beyond calculus in the first year. Our introductory computer science class teaches programming in the context of media computation. Advanced topics like Knot Theory and Operations Research (Mathematics) and Artificial Intelligence and High Performance Computing (Computer Science) encourage students to further develop their abilities in the context of interesting topics.
Our introductory classes tend to hold about 25 students and our advanced classes contain 5 to 15 students. In this environment, you are virtually guaranteed to get individual attention from faculty (whether you like it or not).
We host a chapter of Upsilon Pi Epsilon, the international honor society for the computing sciences, and a chapter of Pi Mu Epsilon, the national mathematics honorary. Our local computing club, the George Stibitz Computer Society, is named for Denison alumnus George Stibitz, one of the inventors of digital computing and a member of the National Inventors Hall of Fame. We also have an active math club. In addition, we select student fellows each year, based on their understanding of mathematics or computer science and their ability to communicate their ideas to other students.
Denison prides itself on its ability to offer significant undergraduate research opportunities to its students. In our department, several students each summer are awarded Anderson Summer Research Assistantships to conduct an independent research project mentored by a faculty member. Students also have the option of completing a Senior Research Project or Honors Thesis during their senior year. These experiences are great preparation for graduate school.
In addition to classroom and study space, we maintain three computer labs, one containing Macintosh computers running Mac OS X, one containing Linux workstations and another "majors' lab" containing a mix of machines with non-standard software installed for student research projects. In addition, we maintain a Beowulf cluster, a closely coupled network of high-end workstations running Linux. The cluster is used high performance computing coursework and research.
These resources are connected to Denison's high speed intranet and the Internet. Denison also boasts a campus-wide wireless network.
The computer science faculty perform research and teach courses in artificial intelligence, robotics, software engineering, high performance computing, networking, operating systems, and algorithm analysis.
The mathematics faculty perform research and teach courses in algebra, complex analysis, neural networks, point-set topology, knot theory, functional analysis, and quantum computing.