George Mason University 1997-98 Catalog Catalog Index
Course Descriptions

Search the 1997-1998 Catalog:


Computational Sciences and Informatics




Associate Faculty

Beall, Becker, Black, Blackwell, Blaisten-Barojas, Botkin, Carr, Ceperly, Davis, Denning, Dworzecka, Ehrlich, Ellsworth, Evans, Foster, Gentle, Guillory, Haack, Hertz, Hunter, Jones, Kafatos, Kan, Kerschberg, Lieb, Lin, Lohner, Loustaunau, Manitius, Michaels, Miller, Morowitz, Mushrush, Nash, Norris, Ozernoy, Papaconstantopoulos, Rine, Sachs, Saperstone, Satija, Sauer, Shukla, Sood, Soyfer, Struppa, Sutton, Walbridge, Wallin, Wang, Wechsler, Wegman, Willett, J. Wood, K. Wood, Zoltek


Graduate Program in Computational Sciences and Informatics


Computational Sciences and Informatics, Ph.D.

The Institute for Computational Sciences and Informatics addresses the role of computation in science, mathematics, and engineering. Computational sciences is defined as the systematic development and application of computing systems and computational solution techniques to models of scientific and engineering phenomena; informatics is defined as the systematic development and application of computing systems and computational solution techniques for analyzing data obtained by experiments, modeling, database search, and instrumentation.

Computing is now part of a triad along with theory and experiment as a means of investigation, and it provides insight and leads to understanding that, in many cases, theory or experiment cannot. The multidisciplinary activities of the institute respond to this new role for computation, and the institute seeks to integrate computation in the sciences, mathematics, and engineering to produce new knowledge and understanding about, and approaches to, the research and educational possibilities to be found in nature's complex systems.

Computation is recognized as a central feature of the instructional and research program of CSI. The institute, therefore, seeks to establish world-class computational facilities consistent with funding available through the university and through other sources in cooperation with the University Computing and Information Systems organization.

The CSI Graduate Instructional Computing Facility houses 21 Silicon Graphics workstations and two NeXT stations. The institute owns an Intel Paragon massively parallel computer, and several other advanced platforms are available for use by students and faculty. CSI students are issued accounts and access to the instructional facility upon enrolling in the graduate program.

Admission Requirements
Students interested in applying to the doctoral program in Computational Sciences and Informatics should have an academic background in material sciences, engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural science. The undergraduate degree should be from an accredited institution, and applicants should have earned a GPA of at least 3.0 in their last 60 hours of study. Applicants should forward a completed George Mason graduate application, two transcripts from each college and graduate institution attended, three letters of recommendation, and an expanded goals statement to the Office of Admissions. It is strongly recommended that applicants submit scores from the GRE-GEN and GRE-SUB if they earned their baccalaureates within the last five years. The GRE-SUB is recommended if it is given in the student's undergraduate major subject area. If the undergraduate degree was earned more than five years ago, students should submit a resume or statement of work experience. TOEFL scores are required for all foreign applicants. Those who are also applying for fellowships must submit completed applications by February 1; all other applications for fall admission are due by March 1.

Degree Requirements
The doctoral program provides interdisciplinary research opportunities spanning, but not limited to, such specialty areas as computational astrophysics, computational materials science, computational biology (bioinformatics), computational chemistry, computational fluid dynamics, computational mathematics, computational physics, space sciences, computational statistics, and earth systems and global change. The program emphasizes three intellectual elements: common computational science topics; computationally intensive courses in specific areas of scientific interest; and doctoral research. Interested individuals should have a bachelor's degree in either science, mathematics, engineering, or computer science. The program requires 72 credit hours beyond the baccalaureate degree, with a minimum of 48 credit hours in course work, and 24 hours of dissertation research (CSI 998 and 999). The course work is in the following areas:

  1. The CSI core courses: 801, 803, and 810

  2. Required courses in one of the areas of interest

  3. Electives from specialty courses in one of the areas, or individualized study based on professional experience and research

  4. Colloquia or seminars, maximum of three credits

For those holding a master's degree, the 72 required hours may be reduced by up to 24 hours depending on courses completed. Scheduled courses and sequences accommodate part-time students, with courses offered in the late afternoon or early evening four nights a week.

Applicants are encouraged to apply their knowledge to a broad range of natural science problems using extensive computational knowledge and techniques missing from the more traditional degree programs in science and mathematics. The close relationship of the doctoral program to the research and development activities in federal laboratories, scientific institutions, and high-technology firms affords students opportunities for continuing or new employment. In addition to the common core of CSI 801, 803, and 810, course requirements for the specific areas of emphasis are as follows:

Space Sciences



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