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Special Tracks in Computer Science

Cognitive Science | Bioinformatics | Neuroinformatics

Computer Science is a gateway to exploration in a variety of other disciplines. The department encourages students with such interests to accompany their Computer Science degree with a concentration in related interdisciplinary coursework. This may take the form of a minor in the area of interest, a double major, or simply selection of a set of relevant courses.

Several examples of special tracks illustrating how this might be done in a broad, interdisciplinary framework, are provided below, but a student may work with his/her advisor to establish a special course of study in many other areas.

Cognitive Science Track in Computer Science

Summary: A major (B.S.) in Computer Science with a concentration in Cognitive Science.

Cognitive Science: an interdisciplinary course of study that merges insights from such key areas as computer science, psychology, philosophy, and neuroscience to understand issues involving cognition and behavior. A variety of other disciplines also contributing to the field include mathematics, anthropology, linguistics, vision science, and specializations in other cognitive domains.

A number of critical issues relate to the quest to understand and reproduce cognitive behaviors. These include exploring the brain as a computational mechanism, asking how computational mechanisms might do what the brain does, and considering the impact of answers to these questions on the ongoing attempt to understand the relationship between mind and brain. Cognitive Science addresses questions such as these, both by casting them within the appropriate philosophical framework and by considering the nature of specific behaviors in animal and machine. This curriculum provides important support for a Computer Science major interested in Artificial Intelligence or other facets of Cognitive Science.

Curriculum
Computer Science majors will complete the normal requirements for a degree in Computer Science. Faculty will evaluate the current COSC 460 (Current Topics) offering to ascertain its relevance to the cognitive science track for each prospective student. If the content for neither the junior nor senior years is applicable to the cognitive science track, faculty will consider offering a special version of COSC 460: Introduction to Cognitive Science. The application area requirements (16 credits) will be satisfied by the required courses in Psychology (see the list below). The senior project must be oriented toward Cognitive Science.

Additional courses for this track

  • PSYC 101 General Psychology
  • PSYC 308 Physiological Psychology
  • PSYC 408 Theories of Learning
  • PSYC 409 Cognitive Psychology
  • PHIL 328 Metaphysics
  • BIOL 110 Human Biology
  •    or
  • BIOL 203 Foundations of Biology I
  • BIOL 300 Mental Illness: A Biological Perspective

Some other recommended courses

  • MATH 210 Elementary Statistics
  •    or
  • MATH 370 Mathematical Statistics
  • MATH 260 Calculus II
  • MATH 340 Linear Algebra
  • MSNA 565 Neuroscience
  • COSC 410 Computer Science Research (a Cognitive Science topic)
  • COSC 460 Current Topics in Computing (topics vary; course can be repeated for credit)

Bioinformatics Track in Computer Science

Summary: A major (B.S.) in Computer Science with a concentration in Bioinformatics.

Bioinformatics: an interdisciplinary combination of biological and computational approaches to science to gain new insights into complex living systems. Methods developed in this discipline address outstanding questions in medicine, behavior, health, pharmacy, genetics, the environment, and other biologically related areas. Modern exploration at the frontiers of life-science research relies heavily upon computer simulation and analysis of biological systems. Current progress in genetic, medical, environmental, cellular, pharmacological and other related research arenas depends upon identifying, managing, storing, manipulating, and visualizing relevant data. As highly visible efforts such as the human genome project have demonstrated, the importance of such approaches is certain to increase. This track is an interdisciplinary effort between the Computer Science and Biology programs. As such, it introduces students to these new modes of understanding both fields.

Additional information pertaining to the field of bioinformatics can be found at the National Center for Biotechnology and the National Institutes of Health websites.

Curriculum
Computer Science majors at Samford can satisfy the requirement of this track by obtaining a Minor in Bioinformatics

The application area requirements (16 credits) will be satisfied by the Bioinformatics minor. The senior project must deal with a bioinformatics topic.

Some other recommended courses

  • COSC 315 Databases and Information Management
  • MATH 260 Calculus II
  • MATH 210 Elementary Statistics
  •    or
  • MATH 370 Mathematical Statistics
  • COSC 410 Computer Science Research/Internship (on a Bioinformatics topic)
  • MATH 320 Numerical Analysis
  • MATH 330 Differential Equations
  • MATH 340 Linear Algebra
  • CHEM 205 Foundations of Chemistry
  •    and
  • CHEM 206 Foundations of Chemistry Laboratory

Neuroinformatics Track in Computer Science

Summary: A major (B.S.) in Computer Science with a concentration in Neuroinformatics.

Neuroinformatics: an interdisciplinary course of study that focuses on understanding the cognitive and computational properties of the brain and using what is known about the brain to develop new computational mechanisms.

A list of research groups in the U.S. and abroad may be found at http://www.neuroinf.org.

A Computer Science degree with a concentration in Neuroinformatics provides the chance for students to gain familiarity with a variety of areas that contribute to an understanding of cognition. These include programming, theory of computation, neural networks, simulation, artificial intelligence, psychology, physiology, neuroscience, chemistry, biology, and physics.

Curriculum
Computer Science majors in this track will take COSC 306 (Principles of Bioinformatics) in lieu of COSC 315 (Databases and Information Systems). The application area requirements (16 credits) will be satisfied by the other neuroinformatics track requirements. The senior project must deal with a neuroinformatics topic.

Additional courses for this track

  • MATH 260 Calculus II
  • PSYC 101 General Psychology
  • PSYC 308 Physiological Psychology
  • PSYC 409 Cognitive psychology
  • BIOL 110 Human Biology
  •    or
  • BIOL 203 Foundations of Biology I
  • BIOL 300 Mental Illness: a Biological Perspective
  •    or
  • MSNA 565 Neuroscience
  • CHEM 205 Foundations of Chemistry
  •    and
  • CHEM 206 Foundations of Chemistry Laboratory
  • PHYS 203-204 Physics I & II
  •    or
  • PHYS 101-102 General Physics I & II

Some other recommended courses

  • COSC 315 Databases and Information Management
  • COSC 407 Advanced Bioinformatics
  • COSC 410 Computer Science Research/Internship (on a Neuroinformatics topic)
  • MATH 210 Elementary Statistics
  •    or
  • MATH 370 Mathematical Statistics
  • MATH 320 Numerical Analysis
  • MATH 330 Differential Equations
  • MATH 340 Linear Algebra
  • CHEM 215 Fundamentals of Organic Chemistry