Jul 14, 2020  
2019-2020 Academic Catalog 
    
2019-2020 Academic Catalog

Mathematics and Computer Science


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Faculty

Mark E. Bollman, chair and professor.
B.A., Northwestern University; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., Central Michigan University. Appointed 1999.

Paul L. Anderson, professor.
B.S.,  M.S.,  Ph.D.,  Colorado School of Mines. Appointed 1990.

Drew R. Ash, visiting assistant professor.

B.A., Ithaca College; M.S., Ph.D., University of Denver.  Appointed 2017.

Reza Bidar, visiting assistant professor.
Ph.D.,  Michigan State University. Appointed 2019.

Darren E. Mason, professor.
B.S., Ph.D.,  University of Minnesota. Appointed 2001.

David A. Reimann, professor.
B.S.,  University of Toledo; M.A.,  Ph.D., Wayne State University. Appointed 1996.

Introduction

The Mathematics and Computer Science Department at Albion College includes the disciplines of pure and applied mathematics, computer science and statistics.

The courses are structured to meet the overlapping needs of students who fall in one or more of the following categories: (1) those who wish to develop their appreciation of the power and beauty of mathematics; (2) those who wish to explore the dynamic field of computer science; (3) those who intend to pursue graduate work in mathematics, computer science or other related fields; (4) those who will exploit the applications of mathematics in the natural sciences, social sciences and other areas of quantitative studies; and (5) those who plan to enter the teaching profession in mathematics or computer science.

Computer science is the youngest of the liberal arts.  It shares with mathematics strong historical ties as well as underlying valuses of abstraction, rigor and elegance.  Throughtout history, mathematics and its algorithms have been developed to help the human condition improve.  In the 20th centruy the development of the digital computer dramatically and positively transformed the modern world.  Apple, Google, airbags, pacemakers, and a host of instances of human innovation would be impossible without this aspect of science.  During its vigorous growth as an academic discipline, computer science has worked to map this abstraction onto physical devices.  Computer science students will address significant problems: finite-precision arithmetic, limited storage capacity of data, and bounded processing capacity of a  computer.  They will devleop distinct methodologies:  programming languages, data encoding and the analysis of the complexity of algorithms in terms of time and space requirements.  And they will experiment with some results distinctive to computer science:  the exisitence of the general-purpose computer, serial and parallele processing, and modularity and layers of adstraction in both hardware and software.  This deep understanding of computer science will engage the student in discerning the benefits and limitations of computers in society. 

The studey of algorithms is the theme underlying all aspects of computer science.  Computer science students will learn to define a problem and specify a step-by step solution at a level of detail and clarity unparalleled in any other discipline.  They will also examine the practical issues of efficient storage, manipulation and retrieval of data.

Computer science interact naturally with many other disciplines.  Students will have opportunities to explore the interconnections amoung artificial intelligence, psychology and philosophy; to become involved in the physics and engineering of circuit design; to employ biological models in their study of genetic algorithms and neural networks; and to see aspects of grammar and linguistics in thier study of programming languages.

Career Opportunities

There has long been a demand in both industry and government for people with training in mathematics and statistics. The mathematics major who takes courses in computer science or statistics will enter an extremely favorable job market. There is also a need for secondary school teachers who are certified to teach mathematics or computer science. A major in mathematics provides a good foundation for further study in mathematics or for teaching on the secondary school level. With a degree in mathematics, it is also possible to gain admission to graduate school in other fields such as public policy, management and operations research.

Computer science students will enter a very favorable job market with opportunities in business, industry, government and private consulting. The study of fundamental principles of computer science and the strong mathematical component of this program fortify students with the lifelong learning skills essential for success in this rapidly changing field. Students with a mathematics major and a computer science minor will be prepared for graduate work in this or a related field.

Special Features

The Mathematics and Computer Science Department annually awards approximately $30,000 in scholarships in honor of E. R. Sleight, a beloved mathematics professor who taught at Albion from 1908 to 1948. Prospective students with strong interests in mathematics are encouraged to contact the department to apply for these scholarships. Additional awards are made to outstanding upperclass students in mathematics and computer science.

Each year the Mathematics and Computer Science Department nominates five mathematics majors to membership in the Mathematical Association of America. The J. R. Lancaster Award is presented to the student who best exemplifies the liberally educated mathematics student. The E. R. Sleight Prize and the Ronald C. Fryxell Prize are awarded to the outstanding seniors in mathematics and computer science. Each summer several students receive stipends as Kresge Fellows and from other sources for independent research projects in the mathematical sciences. The Michigan Alpha chapter (established at Albion in 1937) of the mathematics honorary Kappa Mu Epsilon promotes mathematical lectures, films and social events. Students participate in the Michigan Autumn Take-Home Challenge, the Lower Michigan Mathematics Competition, and at the national level, in the William Lowell Putnam Competition and the Mathematical Contest in Modeling. Students are encouraged to attend and present papers at departmental colloquia and at regional conferences in undergraduate mathematics. Internships and the Oak Ridge Science Semester provide additional opportunities for intensive study in the mathematical sciences.

The Math/Stat Computing Laboratory is designed especially for students in mathematics, statistics and computer science courses. This computer laboratory features microcomputers running Windows and a laser printer for high-resolution graphics and typesetting. Statistics students routinely analyze data with the Minitab statistical analysis program; graphing calculators and the Mathematica computer algebra system are integrated into precalculus, calculus and higher-level mathematics courses. This lab is part of Albion’s campus-wide computer network connecting faculty offices, classrooms, laboratories, public computer areas, printers, the library automation system and residence hall rooms. From computers on the network, students can access their files, run software on the campus network, interact with other computers, send email and browse the World Wide Web.

The E. R. Sleight Computing Laboratory contains a network of workstations dedicated for use by computer science students. These computers run individually or in parallel under the Linux operating system.

Departmental Policy on Advanced Placement Credit

Credit earned through the Advanced Placement (AP) exams in calculus, computer science, or statistics may be applied, as appropriate, toward any major or minor in the department. Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the Calculus AB exam, or the AB subscore of the Calculus BC exam, receive credit for MATH 141 . Students who earn a 4 on the Calculus BC exam receive credit for MATH 141 , and those who earn a 5 on this exam receive credit for both MATH 141  and MATH 143 . Students who earn a score of 4 or 5 on the Computer Science A or Computer Science AB exam will receive credit for CS 171 . Students who earn a 4 or 5 on the statistics exam will receive credit for MATH 109.

Student Learning Outcomes

Programs

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