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ACM Frequently Asked Questions

I am interested in Bioinformatics. Is ACM right for me?

Yes. You will want to select the specialization area Computational Biology in your second year, and make sure to take a good number of Computer Science electives.

What happened to BICB?

Up until the Fall 2009 admission, Jacobs University offered a separate Bachelor program in Bioinformatics and Computational Biology. This major is continued as the specialization area Computational Biology within the Bachelor in Applied and Computational Mathematics. Our program thus aims at advancing a "systems viewpoint" where dynamical processes are modeled and hence understood. At the same time, applications in the life sciences and medicine provide an exciting and rapidly developing problem domain in which generic mathematical methods become increasingly relevant.

Do I need to know programming in order to study ACM?

In our experience, the main challange in the ACM major is the necessary mathematics. A good intuition for physics and natural sciences in general is almost equally important. Programming skills, on the other hand, are not an essential prerequisite and can typically be acquired "on the fly". They do play an important role in certain subfields of application and research, though.

What's the difference between ACM and Computer Science?

Computer Science, in a classical understanding of the field, is primarily concerned with discrete algorithms and models. It involves the study of formal languages, data structures and discrete algorithms, the principles of software engineering, and technologies built upon those. ACM, with its roots in scientific computing, is primarily concerned with models of continua - often, but not always, derived from the basic laws of physics - and their approximation by discrete algorithms which can then be solved on a computer. One may say that Computer Science is rooted in discrete mathematics, while ACM has its foundations in mathematical analysis.

Note that, while this is an accurate description of the flavor of the respective undergraduate programs, the distinction is at least partially artificial. Complex problems regularly require innovative inputs from both angles, and often a given modeling question can be successfully solved both from the discrete and from the continuum side. Also, there are a few universities where scientific computing is anchored within the Computer Science department.

I am interested in Finance. What courses should I take?

Numerical Methods and Numerical Analysis are already part of the ACM core. Make sure that you take a good number of courses in Probability, Statistics, and Stochastic Processes together with their necessary prerequisites.

Are you the only university which offers Applied and Computational Mathematics?

By no means. However, there are several different names internationally used to denote study programs very similar to ours. You will find various permutations of ACM, Scientific Computing, and Computational Science, sometimes with additional key words like Engineering to denote a particular focus.


Last updated 2009-12-17, 9:38. © Jacobs University Bremen. All rights reserved.