Algebra to Algorithms


Spring 2014 quarter

Taught by

Rik Smoody

Computers are a driving force of our modern world and increasingly influence our lives. Mathematics and mathematical models lay at the foundation of modern computers; furthermore, we increasingly rely on mathematics as a language for understanding the natural world, such as complex climate models that predict major changes in weather patterns world wide over the next 50 years. Mathematics and computational thinking enable people as citizens to make good decisions on a wide range of issues from interpreting the evidence for climate change to understanding the potential impacts of technology; as such, they are an integral part of a liberal arts education. In this program, we will explore connections between mathematics, computer science, the natural sciences and graphic arts.

We will develop mathematical abstractions and the skills to express, analyze and solve simple problems in the sciences and the arts and explore how to program interesting visual shapes using simple geometry. Class sessions include seminars, lectures, problem-solving workshops, programming labs, problem sets and seminars with writing assignments. The emphasis will be on fluency in mathematical and statistical thinking and expression along with reflections on mathematics and society. Topics will include concepts of algebra, algorithms, programming and problem solving, with seminar readings about the role of mathematics in education, the sciences and society.

This program is intended for students who want to gain a fundamental understanding of mathematics and computing before leaving college or before pursuing further work in the sciences or the arts.

Program Details

Fields of Study

Preparatory for studies or careers in

college algebra, introductory computer science and programming, and problem solving.

Academic Website

Location and Schedule

Campus location



Offered during: Day


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Online Learning

Enhanced Online Learning: Access to web-based tools required, but use of these tools does not displace any face-to-face instruction.


Date Revision
February 26th, 2014 This program will be taught by Rik Smoody and the enrollment has been reduced to 12. Richard Weiss will remain in Computer Science Foundations.

Registration Information

Credits: 16 (Spring)

Class standing: Freshmen–Senior; 50% of the seats are reserved for freshmen

Maximum enrollment: 18


Course Reference Numbers

Fr (16 credits): 30075
So - Sr (16 credits): 30078
(1-16 credits): 30593

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