Digital and Computational Studies

Professor Greer (Mathematics, chair); Visiting Professor Lawson (Digital and Computational Studies); Associate Professors Ashwell (Philosophy) and Diaz Eaton (Digital and Computational Studies); Assistant Professors Greene (Neuroscience), Shrout (Digital and Computational Studies), and Tamirisa (Music); Lecturer Saha (Earth and Climate Sciences and Physics)

Data and computers are transforming virtually every facet of our professional and personal lives. Increasingly, they are the dominant media for how we generate, apply, and share knowledge. The digital and computational studies program is problem-oriented and reflective. By paying attention to the values and motivations underlying the development and use of computers; exploring the consequences of computers and computation for society; and engaging in programming, algorithmic development, and design, students can better understand what goes on beyond the user interface.

The program advances learning and scholarship across multiple disciplines, informed by concepts, methods, and tools of computer science and digital studies. In courses, students analyze the relationships among power, structural inequality, and technology. They recognize computers and data as social constructions and consider the context in which we do computing. They explore the theory, the logic, and limits of coding and computation, and the role of algorithms and heuristics in problem solving. They engage in the assessment, analysis, and visualization of data. They also participate in digital and computation communities, contributing culturally responsive, public-facing digital work and open science. Additionally, they call on values to make decisions that are consistent with digital ethics, decolonizing frameworks, and social good.

Digital and computational studies courses span programming, computational theory, and critical theory. All courses are contextualized in real-world settings and/or partner disciplines. Programming and computational methods courses develop the theory and practice of computer programming and computational methods. Critical digital studies courses interrogate the social construction and use of programming and computing and apply critical theory to the digital age. Integrated courses explore the interface of programming and computational methods and critical digital studies. More information on the values, goals, and practices of the Program in Digital and computational studies may be found on the program website (bates.edu/digital-computational-studies/)

Courses
DCS 102. The Design of Digital and Computational Systems.
A first exploration of the design of computational systems. Like art, music, and literature as well as physical and social systems, computational systems have an underlying structure and beauty. This course introduces those structures and encourages the exploration of how we can manipulate them to create dynamic and engaging systems that represent both the world around us as well as universes imagined. The course lays foundations for computer programming, explores questions regarding gender and race in digital communities, and creatively investigates digital and computational ideas throughout the liberal arts. Enrollment limited to 18. Staff.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 103. People, Places, Prose, and Programming.
This course introduces digital and computational methods for the study of traditionally humanistic objects, including letters, fiction, prose, maps, or other kinds of documents. The course involves reading, critical reflection, and computer programming. Student projects combine computer-assisted methods and traditional humanities questions about authors, style, and how we understand literary works in a rich context, including historical, geographical, and cultural concerns. Topics may include text analysis, topic modeling, mapping and geocoding, and network analysis. The course is appropriate for students new to programming. Enrollment limited to 18. [HS] [QF] Staff.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 105. Calling Bull in a Digital World.
Our world is rife with misinformation. This course is designed to hone digital citizenship skills. It is about "calling bullshit": spotting, dissecting, and publicly refuting false claims and inferences based on quantitative, statistical, and computational analysis of data (with R). Students explore case studies in policy and science; possible examples include food stamps, caffeine, improving traffic, and gendered mortality rates. Students practice visualizing data; interpreting scientific claims; and spotting misinformation, fake news, causal fallacies, and statistical traps. In so doing, the course offers an introduction to programming. Enrollment limited to 39. [Q] [QF] C. Diaz Eaton.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DC/GS 106. TechnoGenderCulture.
Two premises inform this course: technologies have histories and cultures; technologies are gendered. The course brings together the disciplinary approaches of science and technology studies and gender and sexuality studies to explore contemporary problems at the intersection of gender and technology. Students explore classic texts in these fields and undertake design processes that help them apply those texts to real-world problems. Not open to students who have received credit for DCS 106. Enrollment limited to 29. (Community-Engaged Learning.) [AC] A. Shrout.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DCS 108. Introduction to Computation for Science and Mathematics.
This course computationally explores mathematical, ecological, and environmental justice ideas and issues such as limits, integration, population dynamics, and climate change. The course introduces students to programming, from coding through spreadsheets to Octave/Matlab. The course aims to deepen students' understanding of mathematical concepts through computational approaches, explore how computation is changing science and mathematics, and help prepare students to productively engage with coding in upper-level science and mathematics courses. Prerequisite(s) or corequisite(s): MATH 106. Normally offered every year. [QF] C. Diaz Eaton.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 109. Introduction to Computing and Programming.
This course explores computational thinking and problem solving via an introduction to computer programming. More specifically, the course explore computing as a discipline of study, discovering accurate solutions to interesting and challenging problems, and representing these solutions in a precise way so that computers can assist with solving the problems. Students learn fundamentals of programming using Python, including basic data structures, flow control structures, functions, recursion, elementary object-oriented programming, file I/O and discussion of higher-level concepts including abstraction, modularity, testing, and debugging. Through detailed laboratory and project work, these concepts are developed using important real-world contexts. Enrollment limited to 25. One-time offering. B. Lawson.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 204. Data Cultures.
The computational humanities comprise a fast-growing and exciting field that is changing the way scholars work and think. This course provides an opportunity for students with some experience with programming to immerse themselves in semester-long projects in digital environments, moving from "analog" archives, through data structuring, and quantitative analysis, and culminating with a project that makes both the humanities and quantitative analyses legible for people from diverse backgrounds. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level digital and computational studies course. Not open to students who have received credit for DCS 104. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 29. [HS] [L] [SR] A. Shrout.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

INDC 209. Pixelated Parts: Race, Gender, Video Games.
This course considers the politics of race, gender, and sexuality as they emerge in video games and their surrounding ecosystems—in games and their conditions and processes of production, in the representations and spaces of identification that come with the play of games, in the communities that players generate among themselves, and in the affective and material interactions that result when players look at a screen, hold a controller, type on a keyboard, and move a mouse. Crosslisted in anthropology, digital and computational studies, and gender and sexuality studies. Enrollment limited to 29. One-time offering. J. Rubin.
Interdisciplinary Programs

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 210. Programming for Data Analysis and Visualization.
This course teaches computer programming with a focus on quantitative data analysis and visualization. Primarily using the Python programming language, fundamental programming concepts and high-level tools for data manipulation and visualization are introduced using a variety of projects with cross-disciplinary applicability. In addition to writing computer programs, students learn the concepts and methods for effective presentation of data. Prerequisite(s); DCS 102, 103, 105, 108, 202, 204, or DC/MU s23. Enrollment limited to 20. Staff.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 211. Computing for Insight.
This course builds upon DCS 109 (Introduction to Computing and Programming), allowing students to explore practical application of software composition as a bridge to other disciplines. Students continue to develop programming and problem-solving skills, with the clear purpose of providing insight to inquiry in other fields that is made possible by modern computing, software composition, and libraries. The course includes study of additional data structures and algorithms; data harvesting, analysis, and visualization; machine learning; natural language processing; image processing; and considerations of human- and machine-efficiency. As a final course project, students design, implement, and assess a computing project of their choosing. Prerequisite(s): DCS 109 or 210. One-time offering. B. Lawson.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DC/MU 219. Composing Sonic Systems.
This course takes computational and communications systems concepts, such as randomness, probability, generativity, signal processing, feedback, control (and non-control), and listening as parameters for electronic sound composition. Using the free, user-friendly visual programming environment, Pure Data (Pd), students create unique software-based artworks and compositions. Creative projects are grounded in theoretical and historical readings as well as listening assignments that provide context for the application of computational concepts and communications systems thinking to sonic arts practice. The course culminates in a final showing of sound art installations and performances. Recommended background: experience in one or more of the following: music composition, music performance, experimental arts, digital media, computer programming, electronics, media studies. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission is required. A. Tamirisa.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DCS 303. Discrete Structures for Modeling.
This course introduces students to the discrete structures and the methodologies used in discrete approaches to modeling socio-ecological phenomena. In developing a toolkit for systems modeling, students explore questions about the nature of events, change, uncertainty, and interconnectedness in natural, physical, and social systems. In and out of the classroom, students engage actively with terminology, theoretical foundations, strategies for developing and testing mathematical and computational models. This learning is communicated through symbolic, numeric, visual, and verbal means against the backdrop of the complex, interconnected world we experience. Prerequisite(s): DCS 108 or any 200-level digital and computational studies course. Enrollment limited to 19. [QF] C. Diaz Eaton.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 304. Community Organizing for a Digital World.
In this course, students examine digital citizenship from the perspective of online communities. Students explore theories of collective action, community building, and network assembly, for example, the use of community organizing to propagate information in systems. In this community-engaged learning course, students produce a plan for social media and online organization for a partner community in computing and quantitative education. Prerequisite(s): one 100-level digital and computational studies course. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 24. (Community-Engaged Learning.) C. Diaz Eaton.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS 305. Digital Maps, Space, and Place.
Space and place—visualized by maps—condition nearly every aspect of our lived experience. It is almost impossible to imagine everyday experiences without access to maps. Maps also encode power. They tell particular stories and represent dominant cultural understandings of spatial relationship. In this course, students consider the reasons for studying maps, the ways in which maps might inscribe or combat extant power structures, the tools needed for geospatial analysis, how to embed and analyze geographical information, and how to link historical maps to modern-day geographies. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level digital and computational studies course. Enrollment limited to 15. A. Shrout.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DC/MA 316. PIC Math: Topics in Industrial Mathematics.
This PIC Math (Preparation for Industrial Careers in Mathematical Sciences) course is intended for students with a strong interest in industrial applications of mathematics and computation. Students work in teams on a research problem identified by a community partner from business, industry, or government. Students develop their mathematical and programming skills as well as skills and traits valued by employers of STEM professionals, such as teamwork, effective communication, independent thinking, problem solving, and final products. Prerequisite(s): MATH 205 and 206. Enrollment limited to 15. Instructor permission is required. (Community-Engaged Learning.) A. Salerno.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DC/MA 355A. Numerical Analysis.
This course studies the best ways to perform calculations that have already been developed in other mathematics courses. For instance, if a computer is to be used to approximate the value of an integral, one must understand both how quickly an algorithm can produce a result and how trustworthy that result is. While students implement algorithms on computers, the focus of the course is the mathematics behind the algorithms. Topics may include interpolation techniques, approximation of functions, solving equations, differentiation and integration, solution of differential equations, iterative solutions of linear systems, and eigenvalues and eigenvectors. Prerequisite(s): MATH 106 and 205. Not open to students who have received credit for MATH 355A. Enrollment limited to 25. [Q] [QF] Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DCS 360. Independent Study.
Students, in consultation with a faculty advisor, individually design and plan a course of study or research not offered in the curriculum. Course work includes a reflective component, evaluation, and completion of an agreed-upon product. Sponsorship by a faculty member in the program/department, a course prospectus, and permission of the chair are required. Students may register for no more than one independent study per semester. Open to first-year students. Normally offered every semester. Staff.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DC/EC 368. Big Data and Economics.
Economics is at the forefront of developing statistical methods for analyzing data collected from uncontrolled sources. Since econometrics addresses challenges in estimation such as sample selection bias and treatment effects identification, the discipline is well-suited for the analysis of large and unsystematically collected datasets. This course introduces statistical (machine) learning methods, which have been developed for analyzing such datasets but which have only recently been implemented in economic research. The course also explores how econometrics and statistical learning methods cross-fertilize and can be used to advance knowledge in the numerous domains where large volumes of data are rapidly accumulating. Prerequisite(s): ECON 255. Enrollment limited to 19. [QF] N. Tefft.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DCS 375. Network Analysis.
Networks are everywhere. They describe how people, organisms, and ideas connect and interact. Studying networks reveals patterns, systems, and frameworks that are, in many cases, otherwise invisible. This course introduces network analysis as a tool that offers insights into the construction of social, biological, and information systems. It scaffolds the terminology and theoretical underpinnings of network science. It also introduces the data wrangling, qualitative analysis, quantitative analysis, critical analysis, and data visualization tools that often accompany the studies of networks. Recommended background: experience with R programming or significant programming experience as well as prior coursework in critical digital studies. Prerequisite(s): one 200-level digital and computational studies course. Enrollment limited to 15. C. Diaz Eaton, A. Shrout.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

Short Term Courses
DC/MU s15. Sonic Arts and Crafts.
A hands-on course in which students explore and create the materials of sound making using simple circuitry and everyday objects. Class activities include building microphones using piezo discs and old telephones, building simple synthesizers, experimenting with conductive ink and thread, turning objects into speakers using transducers, and crafting novel speakers using copper foil and everyday materials. Students listen to, watch, and/or respond to a variety of related artwork that engages sonic materiality. They experiment and create original artworks utilizing techniques and concepts covered during the course, concluding with a final installation event showcasing student work. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 12. One-time offering. A. Tamirisa.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

DCS s22. Past, Present, and the Possible Dystopian Future of Computing.
In this course, students examine the history, present, and possible future of computing through film and literature, focusing on questions at the intersection of computing, digital studies, and communication: Who are the stakeholders and participants in this intersectional area? What are the uses and abuses of data and computing in society? Who has the power of technology and who does not, and what are the consequences of that power? Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 18. [W2] [CP] C. Diaz Eaton.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

DCS s30. Critical Digital Studies: Theory and Practice.
Critical digital studies combines code studies, computational studies, and digital humanities to investigate questions across the disciplines in ways that are collaborative, participatory, visual, and innovative. Through a combination of analytical, experiential, and collaborative exercises, students merge traditional methods with digital tools to explore new useful methodologies for collecting, analyzing, and disseminating knowledge. They develop both technical and theoretical proficiency while engaging digital tools and resources to rethink old questions. They pose new questions, which can only be investigated through digital practice. Finally, they weigh the practical and theoretical implications of using digital methods to create more inclusive scholarship in the twenty-first century. Prerequisite(s): one digital and computational studies course. Enrollment limited to 30. A. Shrout.
ConcentrationsInterdisciplinary Programs

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations

This course counts toward the following Interdisciplinary Program(s)

AM/DC s32. Remixing and Remembering: Malaga and the Book.
The story of Malaga Island is a forgotten chapter in Maine’s history. Today the island sits abandoned, but it was once inhabited by a fishing community of black, white, Native American, and mix-raced people. In 1912 they were evicted from their homes by the State of Maine. Using the Malaga story as the topic, this course considers conversations about archiving, the materiality of writing, and the notion of the book, in material and digital form. As students mine the archive, they design, edit, and construct a digital book, attending to the mechanics and the intricacies of making an artist's book using archival materials. This is a digital humanities course. Not open to students who have received credit for AMST s32. Open to first-year students. Enrollment limited to 15. M. Beasley.
Concentrations
DC/MA s45T. Mathematical Image Processing.
Digital image processing is a field essential to many disciplines, including medicine, astronomy, astrophysics, photography, and graphics. It is also an active area of mathematical research with ideas stemming from numerical linear algebra, Fourier analysis, partial differential equations and statistics. This course introduces mathematical methods in digital image processing, including basic image processing tools and techniques with an emphasis on their mathematical foundations. Students implement the theory using MATLAB. Topics may include image compression, image enhancement, edge detection, and image filtering. Students conceive and complete projects—either theoretical or practical—on an aspect of digital image processing. Prerequisite(s): MATH 205. Enrollment limited to 29. K. Ott.
Concentrations

This course is referenced by the following General Education Concentrations