CSC-105: Introductory Computer Science at Furman

At Furman, every student’s ability to find, manipulate, analyze and produce information using a variety of sophisticated problem-solving techniques and computing technologies is a high priority. You have several options for initiating such a study – through different themes of the course CSC-105: Introduction to Computer Science. Each section of the course applies fundamental principles of computing to a different real-world problem. This page gives a brief overview of the themes for upcoming offerings of CSC-105. For more information, consult the Furman University Catalogue or contact the Department of Computer Science at 294-2097.

FALL 2022

CSC-105-01 – The Making and Breaking of Ciphers (with Dr. Ken Abernethy)
TR @ 8:30 a.m., Lab T @ 2:30

CSC-105-02 – The Making and Breaking of Ciphers (with Dr. Ken Abernethy)
TR @ 10:00 a.m., Lab R @ 2:30

Ciphers and secret codes have fascinated and intrigued humans for many centuries, and have had important impacts in our history from the simple ciphers used to deliver secret messages during Greek and Roman times, to the crucial role breaking the German Enigma machine had in World War II,  to the latest ciphers that enable e-commerce over the Internet.

This course explores cryptography, the art and science of enciphering and deciphering messages using secret codes and ciphers, and the important role of computer software in devising and breaking modern ciphers. Utilizing a simple programming language, students will create programs for algorithms that implement several historically important ciphers, and devise corresponding computer programs that break these ciphers.


CSC-105-01 – Man vs. Machine (with Dr. Fahad Sultan)
MWF @ 8:30 a.m., Lab W @ 2:30

Today, if you google “Neural Networks”, you see that the search engine deems results on Artificial Neural Networks (ANNs) more relevant than results on biological neural networks, which inspired ANNs in the first place. The pioneering researcher on ANNs, sometimes also referred to as the “Godfather of AI”, not too long ago, posed the following question:

Suppose you have cancer and you have to choose between a black box AI surgeon that cannot explain how it works but has a 90% cure rate and a human surgeon with a 80% cure rate. Do you want the AI surgeon to be illegal?  

This Introduction to Computer Science course aims to better prepare you to contend with such quandaries of our times. The course not only demystifies such said black boxes but also covers the consequences of technology being opaque and lacking transparency. The course will introduce you to some of most foundational ideas of computer science and demonstrate how they extend to problems of pattern recognition that underlie all intelligence, artificial and biological.

The relationship between intelligence and computers runs deep, lest we forget, not too long ago, the word computer itself needed to be prefaced with digital or human.

CSC-105-02 – Social Media (with Dr. Kevin Treu)
MWF @ 11:30 a.m., Lab T @ 2:30

This course will undertake the study of computer science in the context of implementing and effectively using social media tools. We will consider significant questions such as how does social media impact our society in general, and our lives in particular? What are the opportunities and dangers? How do we fully participate and contribute in the social media landscape? How do the computer science topics of programming and algorithmic problem-solving enable social media? (Specifically, how do we implement the social media apps that are so pervasive?) What analytical tools can be applied to social media data to uncover important facts and trends, and predict future trends?