From the Chair

Keith Cooper
Keith Cooper, Chair

Mathematics embodies the human attempt to understand the world in which we are immersed. It is the language that underlies science, engineering, and technology. It plays a critical role in understanding how societies work, how people interact, and what impact people and societies have on the surrounding world.

The Department of Computational and Applied Mathematics (CAAM) has a mission to explore this boundary between mathematics and the world in which we live. Faculty and students in CAAM work on problems that model processes and decisions in the physical world and in society. Examples include modeling lift from an airplane’s wing, determining optimal or near-optimal routes for package deliveries, constructing models of underground structures from acoustic data, developing algorithms to allocate organs to transplant patients, and computing the impact of urban development on street flooding. As part of the process, researchers in CAAM make fundamental contributions to mathematics and the algorithms that play into the solution of such problems.

The CAAM BA degree helps undergraduates develop analytical and computational skills that set them up for careers that range from consultants and data scientists to engineering analysts and financial engineers. Across all these fields, CAAM graduates bring their mathematical expertise to bear on real-world problems.

The CAAM PhD program helps exceptional students develop into researchers and teachers. Our PhD graduates move on to successful careers in both academia and industry. I did my own PhD in CAAM, back when it was called the Department of Mathematical Sciences.

Rice offers three related residential non-thesis master’s degree programs. The Master of Computational and Applied Mathematics degree provides an opportunity for the student to dig more deeply into the theory and practice of one of the sub-disciplines of mathematics. The Master of Industrial Engineering focuses intently on operations research and industrial engineering. The Master of Computational Science and Engineering degree program is an interdisciplinary program in which students take courses from CAAM, Computer Science, Electrical and Computer Engineering, and Statistics; these students work out a suitable curriculum with their advisor.

The Department is at an exciting point in its history. While CAAM is over fifty years old, it is a time of unprecedented opportunity. Over the next four years, we will hire six new faculty members, each of whom will bring new interests, new perspectives, and new skill sets to the Department. These new hires will bring growth and excitement.

Thank you for your interest in our department,

Keith Cooper
Department Chair
L. John and Ann H. Doerr Professor in Computational Engineering
Professor of Computer Science and of Electrical and Computer Engineering