From Computer Science

So you're convinced these computer things will probably be around for a while and it might be helpful to learn you some computer science. Great! But then you check out the course catalog and there are two (or even three) different introductory courses and it's difficult to tell which one suits you best. If that is your boggle, read on.

To review, the catalog lists three different 100-level courses:

- CSCI 0101: Introduction to Computing (offered every semester)

- CSCI 0150: Computing for the Sciences (offered every semester)

- CSCI 0190: Computing through Simulation (offered sporadically)

The very short answer to "which should I take?" is: it usually doesn't matter. All three of these courses will:

- challenge you similarly (none are "easier" or "harder" than the others);

- give you a broad introduction to the field of computer science;

- prepare you to take further courses within the department; and

- serve as a solid foundation for a CS major, a CS minor, or an interested cross-disciplinarian.

With that said, why might one consider preferring one course over another? Before pursuing that question, it should be emphasized that the differences are not so profound that you should decline taking a course different than the one you feel suits you best. Therefore, you should ask yourself the following questions, in this order:

Which course fits my schedule? Take that one. If that presents multiple options, then ask yourself...

Which course has (more) open seats? Take that one. If that presents multiple options, then ask yourself...

Am I looking to apply computer science to other scientific fields? Consider 150. While, as previously mentioned, all three courses provide a broad introduction, CSCI 0150 also includes material that prepares students to process the kinds of data gathered in scientific experiments in such fields as physics, chemistry, psychology, etc. But...

Am I looking to apply computer science to other fields that look at how individuals behave within groups? Consider 190. The particular computer programming language introduced in CSCI 0190 is specifically targeted to simulating such behaviors, and therefore especially suited to those interested in biology, ecology, economics, and possibly even political science. Okay, so...

What's different about 101? It's intended to be the broadest of the three already-broad introductions, and therefore provides a bit more technical context to the general lessons rather than the depth of data analysis (150) or agent-based modeling (190). If your goals don't specifically align with either 150 or 190, 101 is a great choice. If 101 is full, either of the others will scratch your CS itch. But...

What if I still can't decide? Come discuss with any of the CS faculty and we will gladly help you figure things out!