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Computer Science

Applicable for the 2020-2021 academic year.

Computer Science Website

Associate Professors J. BURGE, M. WHITEHEAD; Assistant Professors D. ELLSWORTH; Visiting Professor R. WELLMAN

The study of computer science develops many skills that are central to a liberal arts education: analytical thinking, creativity, and communication. Computer science majors and minors at Colorado College study classical ideas and cutting-edge technologies in close collaboration with their peers and faculty. The computer science program is inclusive and welcoming, with the aim of helping every student achieve his or her full potential. Our students have ample opportunity to work with faculty here and elsewhere on research projects, as well as to put their skills to use in internships. Our alumni are in high demand in the tech sector and other fields, and many earn advanced degrees from top-flight universities.

The Department of Mathematics and Computer Science offers a major and a minor in computer science; computer science courses are designated by CP. For details about the mathematics major and a list of mathematics (MA) courses, see the listing under mathematics elsewhere in the catalog.

Major Requirements

In addition to the All College Requirements, a student majoring in Computer Science must complete:

  • MA126 Calculus 1

  • MA129 Calculus 2

  • MA201 Discrete Mathematics OR MA251 Number Theory

  • CP115 Computational Thinking

  • CP122 Computer Science 1

  • CP222 Computer Science 2

  • CP274 Software Design

  • CP275 Computer Organization

  • CP307 Data Structures and Algorithms

  • CP405 Theory of Computation

  • CP499 Team Software Project

  • TWO units approved by a faculty member of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science from the following:

    • CP341 Topics in Computer Science

    • CP342 Distributed Systems

    • CP344 Database Systems

    • CP360 Computer Graphics

    • CP365 Artificial Intelligence

    • CP407 Analysis of Algorithms

  • A student must complete CP222 and either MA201 or MA251 before declaring the major.

  • All non-transfer students may count at most three 300-400 level courses taken at other institutions (not to include the equivalent of CP499) toward their Computer Science major, provided that these courses are approved by the department.

A student majoring in Computer Science must also:

  1. Attend at least four departmental Fearless Friday talks or department-approved talks after declaring the major, and submit a summary of each talk on Canvas within three weeks of the seminar. These write-ups must be submitted by the beginning of Block 7 of the student’s senior year.

  2. Present the project developed in Team Software Project (CP499) as either a poster or oral presentation during Block 7 of the year in which students take CP499.

To be eligible for Distinction in Computer Science, see the CS Distinction Requirements page.

Minor Requirements

To minor in Computer Science, a student must complete each of the following:

  • CP115CP122CP222CP274, and CP275;
  • Two additional units of computer science at the 300 or 400 level;
  • Obtain approval of the choice of courses from a member of the Department of Mathematics and Computer Science.
  • A student minoring in Computer Science must take at least three of the required courses at CC. 


Computer Science

Introduction to the encoding of information as data and the automation of quantitative reasoning with computer programs. This course covers the basics of the Python programming language with examples drawn from many fields (e.g. chemistry, biology, linguistics, art, music). This is the first course for those interested in computer science. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

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Introduction to algorithms and data structures, and the design of computer programs using the programming language Java. This course requires some experience in programming. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

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Study of the design and implementation of computer programs in Java at the intermediate level with a focus on recursion and object-oriented programming. Exploration of the use of a variety of data structures including queues, stacks, trees, and graphs. Examination of algorithms for searching and sorting data. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement. Meets the Critical Perspectives: Quantitative Reasoning requirement.

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Students will meet regularly during the semester in order to learn about topics in computer science. Students may take the course more than once, but at most two times for credit (in different years). Pass/Fail grade only. .5 units (Not offered 2020-21).

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Special topics in computer science not offered on a regular basis (Not offered 2020-21).

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Construction and programming of a small robot over the course of a semester. Introduction to algorithms and techniques for navigation, planning, and error correction. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Fundamentals of design and implementation of 'real world' software. Topics include testing, databases, networking, user interfaces, collaborative development practices, and software specifications.

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Exploration of the design and organization of computer processors, memory, and operating systems. Topics include processor architecture, digital circuits, memory management, scheduling, file systems, assembly language, and peripheral device control.

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Study of fundamental data structure and algorithm concepts, and analysis techniques thereof. Examination of hash function and tree based data structures. Analysis techniques including asymptotic analysis and proof of algorithm correctness and performance. Exploration of reduction and algorithmic categories (e.g., NP- completeness). 1 unit.

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Special topics in computer science not offered on a regular basis.

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Fundamentals of network design and interaction of computing systems. Topics include network protocols, security, synchronization, transactions, and network programming. Bredin. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Introduction to data base management systems including the design, implementation, and analysis of data bases. Topics include relational models, concurrent access, data mining, and SQL programming. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Introduction to the algorithms and theory necessary for producing graphic images with the computer. Topics include perspective, projection, hidden line removal, curve design, fractal images, shading, and some animation. (Not offered 2020-21).

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An introduction to the theories and methods of artificial intelligence. Topics include problem solving, game playing, knowledge representation, natural language understanding, and expert systems.

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A semester-long study based on journal articles in computer science or on problems selected by the instructor. Topics will be chosen based on interest and accessibility, and there will be some writing and presentation of material. May be repeated for a total of 1 unit. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Examination of the logical basis of computation. Topics include automata theory, Turing machines, time complexity, and space complexity theory.

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Investigation of the efficiency and design of algorithms including order estimates, complexity, and NP problems. (Not offered 2020-21).

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Research on an on-going project with a Computer Science faculty member. Students will read discipline-specific literature and contribute to research design. Students will produce a written thesis along with any supporting software. Students will present their projects during Block 7. This course does not count towards major or minor requirements.

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Students work in teams to design, document, implement, and test a software project. Required for majors in computer science.

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Last updated: 01/15/2021