Interdisciplinary Studies

The Department of Computer Science encourages ties with other disciplines in order to both foster new areas of learning in computer science, as well as to apply modern computer science techniques to research in other fields.

Graduate students are primary instigators of cross-disciplinary fertilization.  Each discipline communicates using its own language. A true multidisciplinary collaboration demands that the researchers learn the background and be able to speak the language of each discipline.  Faculty members often establish research programs but are too busy to take the time to learn this background.  However, graduate students have the ideal opportunity to do so early in their graduate program.

There are a number of ways of interacting with other disciplines:

  1. Take courses offered by other departments.   Students are encouraged to do this as part of their required course work.
  2. Attend talks from other departments.   This is an excellent way of finding out what kind of research is happening in other departments.  Unfortunately, most of these talks are not publicized outside of closed circles and there is no easy way of finding out about them.   Most departments maintain lists of researchers and their interests.  Go to other departments and talk to researchers whose work you are interested in, and ask if they have regular seminars that you might attend.  Most groups are happy to welcome interdisciplinary interest.
  3. Choose a supervisor who is engaged in interdisciplinary work and has ties to other departments.   There are a number of such researchers within the Computer Science Department.
  4. Collaborate informally with researchers in other departments.  This often involves considerable incentive on behalf of the student to seek out and establish ties with other departments, but the rewards can be well worth the effort.
  5. Enroll in one of the several interdisciplinary degree programs that exist outside of the traditional disciplinary departments. These programs usually require that the student be based in a home department that will provide the student’s administrative needs (office space, funding) and that the student has a supervisor from that department.   By arrangement with that department, the student will satisfy the degree requirements of the interdisciplinary program instead of those of the home department.  The interdisciplinary programs that we currently are aware of are:
    • Institute of Applied Math.  Contact the Mathematics Department.
    • Graduate Program in Neuroscience.  Contact the Psychiatry Department.
    • Interdisciplinary Studies Program.  Contact the Faculty of Graduate and Postdoctoral Studies. 

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