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Computer Science

Computer science students at Reed study at the forefront of new technologies and wrestle with new approaches to computation. They develop an understanding of algorithms and computer systems technology and become specialists in a number of advanced topics in the field.

Students in the major take core computer science classes in algorithms and data structures, computer system organization, and computability theory, along with advanced classes that focus on networked and distributed systems, databases, programming language systems and compilers, computer graphics and visualization, advanced algorithms, machine learning, and cryptography.

During their time at Reed, computer science majors work closely with faculty to create original scholarship. The program also provides access to research opportunities and internships at universities, institutions, and in the software and hardware industries—in Portland and beyond.

Combined with other recent initiatives—such as computational biology and the Software Design Studio—Reed is building an outstanding program that provides students from all kinds of backgrounds an unparalleled opportunity to study computer science. Graduates have built a long tradition of success as innovators in computer science, and roughly 10 percent of Reed’s working alumni hold jobs in the field of computer technology.

“Computer science is an intersection between theory and application. What happens in class can immediately be taken and applied in any setting. There’s a fulfilling sense of accomplishment to start with just an idea and to create something tangible that’s usable and shareable.”ALEX PAN ’17

Professor profile

Professor Jim Fix

Computational Theory
photo of Jim Fix

Professor Jim Fix, who holds the Richard E. Crandall Professorship in Computer Science, is one of the primary founders of Reed’s computer science program. “Computer science and the liberal arts are a perfect combination,” Fix says. “We’ve reinvented the way computer science is taught.”

Jim’s work seeks to adapt ideas from theoretical approaches to their practical implementation. His past work, for example, considered the impact of cache performance on algorithm design.

More recently, he has investigated the parallel implementation of algorithms and data structures that support graph search and large text indexing as well as formal methods for reasoning about concurrent and distributed computation.

Download Computer Science Flyer as a PDF

Software Design Studio

Reed’s Software Design Studio (SDS) offers hands-on instruction and thoughtful mentorship to help Reed students explore the art and craft of coding. The program focuses on the practical applications of programming by providing paid internships to current students who want to explore creative uses for technology. In its inaugural year, the studio was directed by a technologist-in-residence, Lennon Day-Reynolds ’03, who was a technical advisor at Urban Airship.

Interdisciplinary Faculty

Faculty across departments contribute to a rich, interdisciplinary approach to computer science:

  • Professor Joel Franklin, physics: scientific and numeric computation
  • Professor Mark Bedau, philosophy: artificial life, philosophy of computation, text analysis
  • Professor Jon Rork, economics: economic game theory
  • Professor Aki Miyoshi, art: digital imaging, video, and interaction
  • Professor Jamie Pommersheim, mathematics: quantum computation
  • Professor Kjersten Whittington, sociology: social networks
  • Professor Anna Ritz, biology: bioinformatics and computational biology


Reed’s annual MindStorm draws leading technology companies to Reed’s campus to pose their trickiest business challenges to students. It’s an opportunity for students to get a look at the industry—and for the tech companies to get a look at potential recruits. Students collaborate to solve problems alongside local tech employers.

What Do Alumni Do?

Cloud Support Engineer
Amazon Web Services
Hannah Hellerstein ’21

Software Engineer
Eric Boettner ’20

PhD Student in Computer Science
University of Massachusetts Amherst
Monica Moniot ’20

Software Engineer
Isabella Jorissen ’16

Urban Airship
Michael Richardson ’07

Community Manager
Dan Toffey ’07

Creative Director
Stacy Westbrook ’97

Panic Inc.
Dave Hayden ’96

Puppet Labs
Luke Kanies ’96