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Scientific Computing

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Frequently Asked Questions by Students

How do the minors in Scientific Computing and Computer Science prepare me differently?

Scientific Computing focuses on the application of computation in science and engineering, as well as many of the social sciences and humanities. It concerns itself with how methods and technology of computer science are applied to modern and cutting-edge problems within these core disciplines. The computer science minor focuses on the fundamentals of the discipline of computer science. Thus, it concerns itself with the general properties of computation, the design and development of computation to realize practical goals, and the structure and organization of computing devices to achieve efficient computation.

How do I declare a minor in Scientific Computing?

To add the minor in scientific computing, get an add minor form (or copies of the forms) from the registrar of your College or School and have them signed by one of the Directors of the scientific computing minor, Professor Bodenheimer, Palmeri, or Weintraub.

Should I take CS201 or CS204?

CS204 is a course designed specifically for the Scientific Computing minor, and its content is better suited for people interested in scientific computing, in terms of content, level, and application. CS201 is an acceptable alternative if students find it impossible to enroll in CS204 because of scheduling or if students are planning to minor in both Scientific Computing and Computer Science; CS201 is required for the Computer Science minor without substitute.

CS204 is not being offered this year. Can I take CS201?

Yes. Course staffing issues may make it impossible to offer CS204 every year. CS201 is an acceptable alternative.

How do I get involved in a research project?

See http://www.vanderbilt.edu/scientific_computing/researchopportunities.php for more information. Students interested in participating in research should try to talk with potential faculty members well in advance. Please note that any particular faculty member may be unable to supervise an undergraduate research project for a variety of reasons (e.g., the student does not have the required background, the faculty member is going on academic leave, or the laboratory is over capacity). Talking with several potential faculty mentors is recommended.

I plan to do a research project supervised by a faculty mentor. Should I enroll in directed study (SC293) or independent study (SC295)?

Directed study (SC293) is for participation in an ongoing research project in a faculty member's laboratory or for research on a new topic that falls well within a faculty member's expertise. A directed study project typically contributes in some way to the larger research efforts of a laboratory. Most students working on a research project should enroll in directed study (SC293). Independent study (SC295) is for those less common occasions where a student is embarking on a research project that falls far outside a faculty member's area of expertise, but the faculty member still agrees to help guide the student in their exploration. Students should note that faculty may be more likely to agree to supervise a directed study (SC293) than an independent study (SC295) project.

Can my honors project in another discipline count also toward my Scientific Computing minor?

In principle, yes. A core component of the project should combine scientific computing tools and techniques with a substantive scientific or engineering problem. Students (and their faculty sponsors) should talk with one of the Directors of the Scientific Computing minor (Professor Bodenheimer, Palmeri, or Weintraub) if there is any uncertainty about what might or might not qualify for a suitable project within the minor.

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