Major Spotlight: CS Math

At Mudd, finally declaring your major is a big deal. We have until the end of sophomore year – that’s two years – to decide what we want to do, with up to four semesters of the Core Curriculum backing up our final choice. While getting exposure to different fields is a major perk of the Core, students often also struggle with choosing just one major. Double majoring at Mudd can be difficult with the intensity of each major’s requirements. The Computer Science Math joint major solves this issue for people who can’t decide between the two majors.

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Preethi Seshadri ’18 and Varsha Kishore ’18 discussing Algs lectures in the Writing Center. An example of Harvey Mudd’s collaborative, and not competitive, environment.

Varsha Kishore, a junior CS Math major, gives us some insight into how the two major requirements work together. This semester, FA2016, Varsha is taking 3 tech classes – Algorithms, Software Development, and the engineering class Digital Engineering and Computer Architecture, as well as 2 hums – Science and Technology in the Early Modern World, and Microeconomics at Pomona. She really likes her classes this semester, but her favorite is Algorithms. According to Varsha, “Algs is about learning techniques and tools to write code to solve problems efficiently in space and time.” The class, cross-listed as CS 140 and Math 168, is a favorite among many Mudders; it focuses on unique ways of thinking and problem solving, with a minor focus on coding. Varsha characterizes Algs’ problem solving approach as “elegance through efficiency.” “Most of the problems Algs work on can be solved with brute force, but we learn how to solve these in polynomial time. In this efficiency lies elegance.”

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A sample of an Algs lecture

All CS Math majors are also required to take Discrete Math, which Varsha cites as her favorite math class at Mudd. Discrete math was about “reasoning and proof techniques in number theory, graph theory and combinatorics. It helped me understand how to approach proofs. There were so many cool applications like RSA encryption.”

So what do career prospects for a CS Math major look like? Her first summer at Mudd, Varsha did research with Mudd’s CS department at Harvard, working on hard disk drives. Last summer, she worked for Google on Google Maps for iOS. More specifically working on offline region downloading, Varsha was thrilled about the entire experience. She says “I loved navigating and contributing to a huge code base. I loved that I was working on something that will be used by a lot of people, around the world.”

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Varsha and a fellow intern, with their trademark Noogler hats on

The CS Math major presents exciting learning opportunities, both academically as well as in industry.

I’m starting a new series of blog posts in which I’ll be highlighting a major at Harvey Mudd. I know that during the application process, and as a pre-frosh, it can be challenging to navigate what exactly each major means. I hope that these “major spotlights” will provide helpful anecdotes to supplement all the information that you can find on the internet. Feel free to email me with any questions! Good luck to all the prospective applicants of Fall 2016!