Computers and computation are pervasive in our society. They play enormously important roles in areas as diverse as education, science, business, and the arts. Understanding the nature of computation and exploring the great potential of computers are the goals of the discipline of computer science. A sample of the areas of research investigated by the Williams Department of Computer Science alone illustrates the vast range of topics that are of interest to computer scientists and computing professionals today. This includes: the use of computer-generated graphic images in the arts and as a tool for visualization in the sciences and other areas; the protocols that make transmission of information over the Internet possible; the design of revolutionary new computer languages that simplify the process of constructing complex programs for computers; the development of machine learning algorithms that can extract useful and even novel information from data that is too complex for humans to analyze; algorithms that can solve problems that were previously too hard to solve in a reasonable amount of time, just by giving up a little bit of optimality in the solution; the investigation of machine architectures and specific hardware aimed at making computing fast.
The department recognizes that students’ interests in computer science will vary widely. The department attempts to meet these varying interests through: (1) the major; (2) a selection of courses intended for those who are interested primarily in an introduction to computer science; (3) recommended course sequences for the non-major who wants a more extensive introduction to computer science in general or who seeks to develop some specific expertise in computing for application in some other discipline. More information can be found on the Computer Science site.