Computer Science

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 * ''At first I thought this class was interesting but after taking ECS 30 I realized ECS 10 was a huge waste of my time. ECS 30 covers all the same basics of programming that ECS 10 does except in much more detail. You actually get to apply what you learn to algorithms and whatnot. Don't bother with this class. Even if you are 100% new to programming take ECS 30 instead.'' - John McHugh
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 * ''Easy class if you are good at abstract mathematical concepts. Not you typical lower division math class. Nelson Max is an awesome professor in this class and you will learn a lot! I highly recommend you actually pay attention in this class since the concepts of set and graph theory are important if you are taking ECS 120/122AB.'' - John McHugh
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 * ''Took this class with Bernd Hamann. Thank god I had experience programming going into ECS 30. Hamann is the worst professor I have ever had. He taught ECS 30 using obsolete graphics libraries from 1995 written by some guy who wanted to make the C programming language look as much like Java as possible. Literally a joke of a class. Not only can you not understand this guy but the homework is almost entirely graphics. I'd rather pay $4.5k and graduate a quarter late than ever have to take a class with him again. I got an A+ but that is simply because I knew how to program in C coming into this class. '''BEWARE!''' Do not take this guy if you have any intention of going on to ECS 40.'' - John McHugh

The [WWW]Computer Science department is based at 2063 Kemper Hall.

It offers two B.S. degrees: one in Computer Science, which is given by the College of Letters and Science, and one in Computer Science Engineering, given by the College of Engineering, as well as a 24-unit minor. CS majors are allowed more freedom in the courses they take, as, unlike Engineering majors, they do not have almost all 180 units planned out for them. They also don't have to take any Communication or English classes. The primary difference between the majors is that the CSE major focuses significantly more on software/hardware interactions, while the CS major is more software-oriented. They are very similar otherwise.

    1. Current Faculty
    2. Departmental Resources
    3. The Difference Between Computer Science and Computer Science Engineering
    4. Courses
      1. Lower Division
      2. Upper Division
      3. Graduate Courses
      4. Other Classes required for the major
      5. Other Classes that may be of interest to Computer Science majors
    5. Computer Science Club

Current Faculty

Departmental Resources

The Difference Between Computer Science and Computer Science Engineering

The Computer Science Engineering (abbreviated CSE or ECS) major requires taking the Physics 9 series of classes, ECS 160 and also four Electrical Engineering courses:

If its units were counted the way the College of Letters and Science counts units, it would be 140 units. It requires 33 units of General Eduation classes, which practically speaking means you're going to have to take 36 units because they've eliminated all of the 5 unit GEs except for sociology.

The Computer Science (CS) major is a B.S. in the College of Letters and Science. It requires you to choose from one of three science tracks Bio, Chem or Physics. It also requires a couple more math courses. If you want to learn about Bioinformatics, then do not major in CSE, becasue you won't have room for the Biology that you need to learn Bioinformatics.

Courses

The department's descriptions of these classes are available at [WWW]http://www.cs.ucdavis.edu/courses/exp_course_desc/index.html

Lower Division

ECS 10 - Basic Concepts of Computing: An introductory programming course intended for non-majors. This course used to teach Pascal,then Java, but they switched to Python sometime in late 2006 or early 2007. If taken with Professor Amenta, you can expect the course to go at a solid pace, and you will get into lots of graphical work.

ECS 15 - Introduction to Computers: Another introductory course. This one appears to focus more on computers themselves instead of simply using them. If taught by Davis, you'll get a taste of programming in Python. Gives SciEng and Writing GE credit.

ECS 20 - Discrete Mathematics for Computer Science: A fairly simple logic course. Subjects covered include logical proofs, graph theory, and solving of recurrence relations; the kind of math to prepare you for analyzing algorithms in 122A.

ECS 30 - Introduction to Programming and Problem Solving: This is the first real programming course, normally taught in C. If you're lucky you'll have Sean Davis, Dave Buscaglia or Dean Sniegowski as your professor. It covers basics such as control structures, operators, functions, arrays, strings, and pointers. Buscaglia also goes over linked lists and such, plus has been known to make his students write a set of programs akin to tar.

ECS 40 - Introduction to Software Development and Object-Oriented Programming: The logical extension of ECS30 into the realm of C++, this is generally considered a weeder class for the CS department. Students in ECS40 learn about all sorts of object-oriented tomfoolery like inheritance and polymorphism. If taught by Sean Davis, they can expect to make programs with mountains of weird, abstract classes to solve whatever ridiculous task he came up with that particular quarter. You won't sleep much and when you do, you'll have nightmares.

ECS 50 - Computer Organization and Machine-Dependent Programming: As much as the Professors who teach it may argue the point, this is basically "The Assembly Language Course". Depending on who's teaching it, you'll either code in straight x86 assembly (Norman Matloff) and learn a lot about real computers, or in the MIPS language on a simulator (everyone else) and learn a lot about fake computers. ECS50 is a required prerequisite for most upper division ECS courses, especially the ones that deal with hardware. The alternative is EEC70, but as it is often taught by Wilkens, is a load of crap. Don't go there.

ECS 60 - Data Structures and Programming: Design and analysis of data structures for a variety of applications. Trees, heaps, searching, sorting, hashing, graphs. Extensive programming. This course replaced ECS 110 in Fall 2007. According to Sean Davis, the course content is the same as 110. Indeed, many of his handouts during the Fall 2007 quarter were still titled "ECS 110."

Upper Division

ECS 110 - Data Structures and Programming: The next logical extension in the "basic programming" track from ECS40, 110 is the software-side gateway to most upper division ECS courses. The course covers using basic data structures such as arrays, stacks/queues, trees, hash tables for applications like sorting and graph problems. Taking this class with Sean Davis is a lot harder than with any other instructor, as his programs are a lot harder and he grades submitted programs based on their running time. Nevertheless, those who survive Davis usually recommend it as a positive experience in hindsight. This class was replaced by ECS 60 in Fall 2007.

ECS 120 - Introduction to the Theory of Computation: THE ABSOLUTE MOST THEORETICAL COURSE in the CS department. No programming whatsoever. Students work their way from state diagrams to turing machines, finally ending with the question of decidability on a turing machine and its implications for algorithms on physical computers. Difficulty of the coursework can vary greatly by professor, as some require rigorous proofs while others are content if students just learn the core concepts.

ECS 122A - Algorithm Design and Analysis: The second most theoretical course in the CS department. Analyze and design algorithms for problems like sorting, searching and graph traversal, and get introduced to the world of NP/NP-complete problems. Like ECS120, some professors will require more rigor than others. Students can expect a nauseous reaction upon having to sit through the same two weeks of sorting algorithm nonsense that they were likely already exposed to in ECS30, ECS110, and to a lesser extent 20 and 40.

ECS 122B - Algorithm Design and Analysis: This class is the sequel to 122A. According to the 2008-2010 course catalog, this class covers "Theory and practice of hard problems, and problems with complex algorithm solutions. NP-completeness, approximation algorithms, randomized algorithms, dynamic programming and branch and bound. Students do theoretical analysis, implementation and practical evaluations. Examples from parallel, string, graph, and geometric algorithms."

ECS 124 - Theory and Practice of Bioinformatics: First two weeks of the quarter cover learning Perl and exploring alignment software. Then you move onto better ways to find the optimal alignment of a sequence (i.e. not using brute force), and explore algorithms like Smith-Waterman, and you also learn about dynamic programming. Class is more theoretical than practical, and there is an assumption that you've dealt with tools such as BLAST before.

ECS 130 - Introduction to Scientific Computation Course is focused on learning about algorithms that are used in scientific community such as interpolation, curve fitting, solving linear equations, quadrature, eigenpair calculations, SVD, etc... You also learn about implementation problems. The class is a mix of engineering 6 and Math 22A/67/167/128ABC. Programming is done in Matlab.

ECS 132 - Probability and Statistical Modeling for Computer Science: First offered in Winter 2008, this class is the CS equivalent to STA 131A; this class provides an introduction to popular models of probability and statistics. Students start at the basic one-variable discrete models and progress to multivariate continuous models. This class (since 2009) is a requirement for ECS majors; an elective for CS majors.

ECS 140A - Programming Languages: A somewhat nasty crash-course through several programming languages. Lecture and Lab are almost entirely disjoint for this one: you'll be expected to learn the languages on your own because what's covered in lecture is mostly the abstract concepts behind them. Typical languages covered are C++, Java, LISP and Prolog. Olsen is a pretty good prof and lets you use older versions of the texts, but will make you buy the packaged photocopied notes from the bookstore. You'll learn a lot from doing his programming assignments.

ECS 140B - Programming Languages: A continuation of ECS 140A. More exposure to various programming languages and the concepts behind the implementation of their features.

ECS 142 - Compilers: Probably considered the most obscurely technical class in Computer Science, this class teaches you to build a compiler in 5 easy steps. The only class that could conceivably compete for that title would be ECS 150, if its goal was to write an operating system. (1) Understand the language. (2) Lexical Analysis — find the tokens (3) Parse the tokens and determine whether they match the structure of the language (4) Check the semantics of the language (5) Generate code.

ECS 145 - Scripting Languages: First offered in Spring 2005. Mainly focused on Python with small coverage of Perl in the last couple weeks of class. A great, educational class. No word on when it will be offered again.

ECS 150 - Operating Systems: An interesting class if you're into this kind of thing, and goes over scheduling processes, semaphores, memory, page tables, etc. This is an easy class if you take it with Wu. He's a nice guy, knows his stuff, and will tell the occasional story/joke plus the occasional slip (blahblahblah where I met my first wife, I mean, ONLY wife, ONLY wife, heh...). His tests however are multiple choice and each question is worth about 2% of your grade. Also, the little boxes on just about each slide of his slide presentations make absolutely no sense until he explains them. And if you don't take notes, the little boxes will make absolutely no sense to you again when you take your printouts to the tests. The best TA ever was Sophie.

ECS 152A - Computer Networks: An introduction to the lower levels of computer networking. Starting with signaling techniques at the physical layer, and then discussing error correcting techniques and protocols at the link layer, all of the good stuff about TCP/IP is left for ECS 152B.

ECS 152B - Computer Networks: Rather than going over the concepts of the networking stack, actually gain some experience writing client/server programs and utilizing TCP/IP.

ECS 152C - Computer Networks: Wireless networks.

ECS 153 - Computer Security: An interesting class if you're into that kind of thing. Contrary to what most people might think, this class does not teach you how to hack (sorry). The vulnerabilities used as examples should have been fixed long ago (at least we'd expect so). With an academic view of security, it goes over different security models, spotting bad coding habits, legal issues, Sun Tzu, encryption, authenticating messages, viruses, worms, etc.

ECS 154A - Computer Architecture: An introduction to computer architecture at the logic-gate level. Learn to build flip-flops out of logic gates, and use those flip-flops to build things like registers and ALUs. Content can vary by professor.

ECS 154B - Computer Architecture: Computer Architecture on a more macroscopic level than 154A. Use some of the big parts you designed in 154A (registers, ALUs, multiplexers...) to build even bigger things, like simple CPUs. Then pipeline them. It's good fun.

ECS 160 - Introduction to Software Engineering: We spent the first half of the quarter learning how to mathematically specify our programs in a language called Z (Zed), which nobody seems to use. Thereafter, we learned about testing software, formal verification, and symbolic execution as techniques for testing programs and ensuring reliability. We had a rather painful software engineering project specifying and writing a package delivery system (Fall 2004), which required us to learn several technologies (like SQL databases) on our own that are covered in other classes, but those classes aren't required as prerequisites.

ECS 163 - Information Interfaces: The GUI class, a breath of fresh air for those sick of making console programs. This class was intended to focus on the principles of visualizations and the principles of human-computer interaction. Offered for the first time in Spring 2005, the class was composed of two projects: first, to make a program that visualizes a directory structure (most people did a [WWW]Treemap), second, to form a group of 4 or 5 and make a website. The guidelines for the second project were very loose.

ECS 165A - Database Systems: Database design, entity-relationship and relational model, relational algebra, query language SQL, storage and file structures, query processing, system architectures.

ECS 165B - Database Systems: Advanced database systems: object-oriented and object-relational database systems; distributed and multidatabase systems; advanced database applications: Web-based database access, data warehouses.

ECS 166 - Scientific Data Management: Relational databases, SQL, non-standard databases, XML, scientific workflows, interoperability, data analysis tools, metadata.

ECS 175 - Introduction to Computer Graphics: The gateway to UC Davis' somewhat extensive selection of Graphics Courses, consisting of the 17x series in the undergraduate level and the 27x series on the graduate level. Content varies a LOT by professor. Depending on who's teaching, the workload can be light years above the typical CS class, but some would argue the rewards are greater, because pretty stuff shows up on the computer screen. 175 can be a refreshing experience for a student who's traveled through the ECS30/40/110 track and is sick of being reintroduced to bubble sort. 175 is a classic recruitment class, do well, and you have a good shot at an undergraduate research position.

ECS 177 - Introduction to Visualization: Basics of Volume Data visualization (3d data like CT scans, or fluid simulations). Typically students learn about and implement all of the standard methods: a slicer, an isosurfacer, a direct volume renderer, and some sort of vector field visualizer.

ECS 178 - Introduction to Geometric Modeling: This class is about Non-Uniform Rational B-Spline Surfaces (NURBS). This class is math heavy. It takes the whole quarter, but you eventually learn all the mathematical under pinnings and implement the basics of NURBS. Heavy programming load. Good class for those who want to work on CAD systems or modelling packages.

    This course has been cancelled for 2005-2006, no petition has yet been started. There definitely should be one though.

  • Professor Bernd Hamann taught it winter of 2008.

ECS 188 - Ethics and the Information Age: CS and CSE require a "Professional Responsibilities/Ethics" class. This fills that requirement. This deals with philosophy of ethics and the ethical issues that may be involved in Computer Science applications.

Graduate Courses

ECS 201A - Taught by Professor Farrens. You take what you learn in ECS 154B and expand upon it. You look into problems like interrupt handling, improving performance by numerous methods like instruction reordering, branch prediction logic, etc...
ECS 220 - It was taught by Franklin when I took it. Only theory on complexity, very,very heavy stuff and tough reading.
ECS 235 - When taught by Bishop, much like his undergraduate course, and even uses the same book that was written by him, but is heavier on the theory and proofs. 50/50 hw/project. The project is interesting because you get to do whatever you want to do that is security related for the quarter and then write up a report at the end.

ECS 243 - This class is taught by Kent Wilken in the ECE department. Class is a continuation of ECS 142(Compilers). You definitely don't need to take Compilers to take this one since they are independent to each other. In Compilers, you learn about the front-end of the compiler (basically, taking a program written in a high level language and converting to assembly). In this course, you will be taking the assembly and optimizing it, so that it runs faster. The projects for this course will follow what you learn in class.

ECS 251 - Operating System Models - When taught by Wu, focuses on BSD for examples. Homeworks include creating an antivirus kernel loadable module using clamAV and lots of hackery.

  • "For ecs251 of spring 2011, we will be studying both traditional OS topics (balanced between single OS kernel and distributed system) and some more advanced topics such as online social network (e.g., Diaspora, DavisSocialLinks, Facebook API) and social informatics for OS kernel (e.g., what is the social informatics view of a piece of FreeBSD virtual memory, which might contain, directly or indirectly, network packets/TCP sessions during a period of time). The students should know C really well and ready to self-learn PHP if you don't know it already — sfelixwu"

ECS 275A - Advanced Computer Graphics - When taught by Staadt: Primary focus on hierarchical scene graph rendering, visibility and occlusion culling, and level of detail techniques for both models and terrain. Discussion of other advanced topics such as image-based rendering, collision detection, shaders, environment mapping, etc. The last 2/5ths of the class was presentations given by students. Final project was to make a game-like program of your choosing that showed off advanced graphic features learned in class. This is a great class to take if you've taken ECS175 and want further motivation to make shiny computer graphics projects.

ECS 277 - Advanced Visualization - This class is pretty much a continuation of ECS 177. A lot of what you learn in 177 be will completely demolished as you will learn better techniques of visualization. This class seems to be very focused on better ways of interpolating data.

Other Classes required for the major

ENG 190 - Professional Responsibilities of Engineers: Described [WWW]here. Fills CS and CSE's "Professional Responsibilities/Ethics" class requirement. This is ECS 188's more useful and practical twin.

Other Classes that may be of interest to Computer Science majors

LIN 177 - Computational Linguistics: Can give you GE credit while programming.

Computer Science Club

There is also a Computer Science Club for CS students.

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