The development of computer science in the mathematics department divides more or less clearly into four periods:
Various faculty in the department pitched in to cover the
introductory programming course where students used teletypes
(housed at one point in Palmer 131) to
communicate with the Hewlett Packard computer (referred to as
'Smedley') and saved programs on punched paper tape. When
Steven Janke joined the department
in 1975 to replace Gateley, his exposure to the programming course
struck deeper interests. By 1979, Paine had moved to the
computer center as a systems analyst, and Janke had taken over the
second level computer science course changing the emphasis from
assembly language programming and computer architecture to the
study of algorithms and data structures. There was also a new
course at the upper level, Theory of Computation, covering the
algebraic structure of abstract computing machines. The department
was playing to their strength, the more mathematical side of
It became clear that the department was meeting two separate demands for computer science on campus. Some students wanted an introduction to what computers could do, and some wanted an in-depth experience leading to a solid understanding of computer science. By 1981, the department had introduced Computer Science I and II more or less following the guidelines of the Association of Computing Machinery - a first course introducing a programming language and a second course covering data structures and algorithm design in more detail. In 1986, the lower level course, Introduction to Digital Computing, was listed not in the mathematics department, but rather in Studies in Natural Science.
During this period, the mathematics curriculum was growing to incorporate more discrete mathematics - exactly the topics germaine to computer science. With more and more interest from students, the department decided in 1986 that it was time to offer a mathematics degree with emphasis in computer science. Students opting for this path had to complete the following courses:
The option was obviously heavily mathematical - the department did not have the expertise to offer a more practically oriented computer science program.
Janke was instrumental in developing the computer science
curriculum during this period, but
Dave Roeder's interest was piqued by Institute for
Retraining In Computer Science. He had been teaching computer science
courses regularly, but in the summer of 1986, he joined
the IFRICS program at Clarkson University and deepened his knowledge of
computer science. Roeder later took a special interest in the Theory
of Computation course.
In 1993, SUN Microsystems showed an interest in offering internships to students with some skills in the SUN operating system. So a new course developed focussed on the UNIX operating system and staffed by both college faculty and employees of SUN. Several students took the course (an extended format covering four blocks), and then went on to spend a block of time working on special projects at SUN. The course developed over time to become more of a standard operating system course with an emphasis on the UNIX operating system.
About half of the mathematics majors during this period chose the computer science emphasis. Several students continued into graduate school earning MA's or Ph.D.'s. Near the end of the century, it became clearer that the department was facing the dilemma of most small liberal arts colleges. How can a small mathematics department offer a full computer science program? The lucrative commercial positions make it difficult for small academic departments to attract computer scientists.