Undergraduate Studies

Mathematics

The scope of mathematics ranges from computer science to philosophy, from physics to finance, from biology to the fine arts. Mathematics emphasizes precision and logic, but also creativity, elegance and problem-solving. While mathematics is a subject with a rich history (some techniques, results and open problems go back thousands of years), it is also a subject that is very much alive, with new theories and applications continually arising. While mathematical and statistical models and methods form the basis of scientific and engineering fields, they are also used in such diverse areas as modern communication, cryptography, animation, banking and finance, policy development and consultation, public health care, and architecture. With an undergraduate degree in mathematics and statistics, students often go on to pursue an education degree to become a teacher or a graduate degree to become a researcher. However, the career options are much broader. Students with a strong background in mathematics and statistics develop problem-solving skills, logical thinking, and creativity, which serve them well for any career path.

The Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science offers degrees in both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts. Because of the diversity of programs offered, students are encouraged to consider their academic goals at an early stage in their studies, and to consult the chair and other members of the department regarding course selection.

Computer Science

Computer Science is the study of computation. For any given problem, a central question is whether a solution can be computed, and, if so, what are the most efficient and practical ways to carry out the computation. Computer science also involves questions that have the potential to change how we view the world. What is the nature of intelligence and can we reproduce it in a machine? How do we represent the knowledge we have about the world and apply this knowledge to help make better decisions?

A computer is a mechanical device that manipulates symbols according to specified rules. As a discipline, computer science lies at the intersection of mathematics, science, and engineering, but it also has very strong ties to many other disciplines. Bioinformatics employs computers for storing and analyzing protein and genome sequences in order to interpret and predict biological structure and function. Business is served by providing the means to perform complex calculations and to interpret large amounts of data to make informed business decisions. The film industry relies on computer-generated graphics for three-dimensional animation. Psychology and philosophy share with computer science the desire to understand the nature of reasoning, learning and intelligence. Computer Science has many subfields, such as algorithms, artificial intelligence, automated theorem proving, databases, graphics, high-performance computing, networking, programming languages, robotics, security, and verification. A common misconception is that computer science is equivalent to programming. Programming is a necessary tool, but it is not the focus.

The Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science offers courses leading to BA and B.Sc. degrees with Major, Advanced Major, and Honours in Computer Science as well as a B.Sc. Advanced Major degree in Computer Science with Business. All degrees closely follow the Computer Science curriculum recommendations of the 2001 ACM and IEEE Computing Curricula. Students must meet the general requirements of both the faculty and the department in which they are registered.

Students completing a program in computer science have a wide variety of options, including graduate studies in emerging areas of computer science such as robotics, computer-aided vision, and artificial intelligence; and employment in areas such as systems and network analysis, software engineering and computer programming, database, information technology consulting, and data communications. Students are advised to choose their program of study in consultation with faculty and the chair of the Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science.

Statistics

Statistics is the science of data and is a useful tool for research in virtually all areas of human endeavor. It involves collecting, organizing, summarizing, and analyzing information in order to draw conclusions. The practice of statistics takes into account the notion of uncertainty (variability), which leads to error when estimating something, predicting something, or making a decision. It is important, therefore, to measure and, if possible, control error. The framework for quantifying uncertainty is probability, which is a mathematical theory used to describe and analyze chance events. For this reason, probability is the foundation of statistics. Statistics is used in many different fields: medical studies, economics, GNP growth, forecasting, stock market valuations, futures pricing, sociological studies, social policy, marketing research, opinion polls, political polls, industrial processes, environmental processes, and ecological processes and issues.

The Department of Mathematics, Statistics, and Computer Science offers degrees in both the Faculty of Science and the Faculty of Arts with Major and Advanced Major in Statistics. Students must meet the general requirements of both the faculty and the department.

Degrees Offered

  • BA with Major, Advanced Major, and Honours
  • BA Honours with subsidiary subject programs are available with the departments of economics and English
  • B.Sc. with Major, Advanced Major, and Honours
  • B.Sc. with Advanced Major in Mathematics with Business Administration
  • Joint B.Sc. programs are available with the departments of biology, chemistry, earth sciences and physics. Students interested in these programs should consult with the relevant department chairs.