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The CSE Committee Member

The student must have a special committee member who belongs to the Graduate Minor Field of Computational Science and Engineering. See list. It is the responsibility of the CSE member to ensure that the requirements are satisfied and expectations met. A measure of flexibility is to be expected given the breadth of tradition across CSE-related fields.


The student must complete three CSE courses at the 400-level or above and is expected to receive a letter grade of B+ or better in each.

  1. Approval: The three courses must be approved by the CSE committee member. In general, CSE courses are characterized by development of algorithms or visualization, use of computers, and applications to scientific or engineering problems. See the list of currently approved CSE courses. Whether or not these courses can also be used to satisfy requirements for the major field is a matter for the student’s Special Committee.

  2. Level: At least two of the courses should be at the 600-level or above.

  3. Breadth: At least two of the courses should be outside the student’s home department. In the case of a student whose major field is not associated with a Cornell department (such as Applied Mathematics), no more than two of the courses can come from the same department.

  4. Core: At least one of the courses must be a core algorithms course. “Core algorithms” courses focus on the development and analysis of algorithms and are applicable to many disciplines in science and engineering.


The student must complete a substantial CSE software project. It is envisioned that most students seeking the minor will propose the software project during their A-exam and complete the project as part of their PhD thesis research. Alternatively, the project requirement may be completed using a project from a course or from an external summer internship. Algorithmic novelty is a not a requirement of the project, i.e., it is acceptable for a project to involve the application of a known algorithm to a new problem.

The student will prepare a brief report for the Special Committee on the project that will describe the software project and will include

  • the problem that it solves, including expected form of the inputs and form of the outputs,
  • the choice of algorithm,
  • accuracy of approximations made by the algorithm,
  • efficiency considerations,
  • other implementation considerations such as choice of programming language, etc.,
  • tradeoffs encountered during project design.

As agreed upon by the Special Committee, the report may be (a) a free-standing written document, (b) part of the student’s dissertation, or (c) an oral presentation, that is part of the A- or B-exam.