The University of Arizona

Undergraduate Info

Why become a computer science major?

Perhaps you have a smart phone.

If so, you know inside that phone is a powerful computer. And some of our students actually develop iPhone apps, including Twitscape, available at the app store. Our classes regularly have projects to implement what are called "graphical user interfaces" or "GUIs" that are the basis of apps.

Do you use Facebook?

Facebook supports more than 800 million users (yes, that's a lot of people!) sharing a billion (with a "B"!) pieces of content daily. How does it do that? Well, Facebook uses some really neat technology including Apache Hive to handle that volume of data. Apache Hive is free database software developed by computer scientists. And you can learn all about databases in our database course.

Are you looking for a great job?

CNNMoney.com put out a poster using US Bureau of Labour Statistics data of the Best Jobs in America. What job was at the top? Systems Engineer, making more than the average college professor. Seven of the top "Best Jobs in America" are in computing. Software engineering was rated 2012's Top Job as well as America's Best Job of 2011.

Want to know how to make programs run faster?

This used to be easy: just wait for next year's faster computer. But processors are no longer getting faster. There is another way: most computers sold today have multiple cores. Why do one thing at a time when you can do two, or four, or eight? The parallel and distributed computing course will teach you how to use these cores all at once, and safely. As a bonus, you will be able to write parallel programs that run not on the (multi-core) processor, but directly on your graphics card, which can have hundreds of times the number of cores in your processor. Pretty amazing when you think about it.

Do you like science?

Computer science may be for you! UA is a leader in the emerging field of ergalics, which is a fancy term for "the science of computational tools". Eighteen undergraduate computer science students have contributed to one current project, A Field Guide for Computer Science, working right alongside faculty and graduate students. In fact, the start of that particular project came from a programming course taken by sophomores. Where else can you get to cutting-edge work so quickly?

Or perhaps you prefer math.

Well, you've come to the right place! Computer science has made fundamental contributions to mathematics. Continuous mathematics (such as calculus) is balanced by the rich area of discrete structures, which you can start studying right away. Professor John Kececioglu does work in mathematical "computational biology"; his work is as important to biologists as it is to computer scientists.

Maybe you like to build things.

If so, you can build software (like computer games which use fancy graphics and communication protocols, or web applications, or smart phone apps, see above) or program robots to recognize what they are seeing. And you can start building things with your very first course.

Are you concerned about the environment?

The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that PCs in the US consume 2 quadrillion (yep, with a "q"!) BTUs per year, while a Congressional analysis reports that data centers (like Facebook's, see above!) use over 1 quadrillion BTUs; these amounts increase every year. You can learn about new operating system techniques that save time and energy and prolong battery life, developed in the DREAM Project, led by no less than the dream team.