Major Mondays: Joint Mathematics and Computer Science

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An interview with Skylar Litz, class of 2022 and a Joint Mathematics-Computer Science major.

Skylar standing by a toilet with a large hammer

Skylar with one of her art projects.

How did you pick your major?

I really liked the practical aspects of CS (computer science), being able to actually solve problems using a computer, but I also really liked the more theoretical parts of CS like algorithms and proof making. I thought that it was the perfect combination of the two.

What type of research have you done?

I’m actually doing research with the engineering department right now in computer engineering, which is very CS-adjacent. We’re trying to create a microprocessor, like build a microprocessor from scratch, so there’s a lot of coding and stuff involved.

What has been your favorite major class?

Definitely Algorithms. The homework assignments are pretty tough, they take a lot of time, but they’re really just interesting problems. When you finally figure it out, it’s like “whoa that’s so cool,” and it’s a good time.

What about a favorite non-major class?

I took Art 002 with Professor Ken Fandell, which was super chill. We had performances, where you were just able to do whatever you wanted within a certain theme. Once I destroyed a toilet with a sledgehammer right in front of Sprague. That was really fun.

Is there something that really surprised you about the joint Math-CS major?

I’d say it’s actually very flexible in terms of what you take. There are some required math courses, some required CS courses, but there’s a lot of space for electives. Especially in math, I’d say you can go any route. You can take more statistics based, more proof based, or even more CS based math so there are a lot of different options for that.

How have you experienced the real-life applications of your major during your time at Mudd?

The summer after my sophomore year, I had an internship doing biomedical data science stuff at Mount Sinai hospital in New York City. It was remote because of Covid, but super cool. I was creating data visualizations for actual scientists to use. Then this past summer, after my junior year, I was a software engineering intern at Roblox, which was also very chill.

What is your senior project?

I’m on the proof point clinic team. We’re trying to improve email spam filtering. People sending email spam obviously want to get past the spam filter in your inbox. One way to do that is to trick the classifier that the spam filter is using to think “oh this this email is fine, I’m going to send it in.” So our team is trying to create a testing system to test different attacks and models and then hopefully be able to offer some recommendations on how to strengthen models.

Are you involved in any extracurricular activities in the math or computer science departments?

I’m currently a grutor (grader/tutor) for Algorithms! I’ve been a grutor every semester.

What are your plans for after graduation?

I actually accepted a full time offer with Roblox again, so I will be working as a software engineer at Roblox.