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UC Berkeley: Theoretical Computer Science

XtremeBlaze777XtremeBlaze777 159 replies16 threads Junior Member
I am applying as an undergrad and I don't know whether to do BS EECS or BA L&S in comp sci. I am interested in studying theoretical computer science rather than software engineering/IS. I am not an engineer, I'm not good at it, I don't like it, I don't want to do it. But I'm not a humanities person either so I don't know what to choose. I am NOT opposed to studying comp arch/circuits or physics (in fact I want to use CS with quantum computing down the road) but I am not a hands-on/technical person (I don't want anything to do with mechanical engineering). If it helps, I love math (duh that's basically what CS is), particularly calculus.
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Replies to: UC Berkeley: Theoretical Computer Science

  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2019
    CS at Berkeley can lead you down many paths. Either EECS or LSCS allows you to take the same paths. There are very few differences between the 2 majors - the only significant one is that one is a direct admit but much harder to get into, while the other is a wee bit easier to get admitted, but requires a certain GPA from 3 CS core classes before you can declare for CS.

    At the upper division level, there literally are no classes that you are forced to take (other than the one design class). You can choose 5-7 (or more) CS classes of your liking. The 17x series of undergraduate classes is all on theoretical computer science - algorithms, intractable problems, computability, etc. Also, some of the 19x classes get into things like cryptography and quantum mechanics. Quite a few CS students go down this path. The graduate school has a similar setup, your 27x and 29x classes are advanced versions of the undergrad variety.

    http://theory.cs.berkeley.edu/
    edited October 2019
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  • XtremeBlaze777XtremeBlaze777 159 replies16 threads Junior Member
    @ProfessorPlum168
    Thanks for the response, is there any disadvantage to doing BA then since it's easier to get into. If I want to end up applying for a big tech company such as google/intel/ibm, would the BA be looked down upon? The theory link you put leads to the EECS page so does that matter at all? Will EECS better prepare me for quantum mechanics? Sorry for all the questions I just recently learned about the different degree and have no idea what the pros and cons are.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    edited October 2019
    The disadvantage of the L&S version of CS is that you go in as undeclared (all L&S go in as undeclared). For CS, the first 3 required CS classes, you need to have a minimum 3.3 GPA in order to be eligible to declare for CS. Around 50% of students who try make it. I wouldn't say that it's that difficult to make the 3.3 mark, but not necessarily easy either. It does put a strain on students sometimes, as there is sometimes a lot of pressure to get a good grade in the classes and some students may not handle it that well.

    For practical purposes for Computer Science majors at Berkeley or many other universities, there's no difference between a BS or BA. It's possible for some company to require a BS degree for CS jobs, but probably more out of habit more than anything. The FAANG companies for sure won't care.

    The only reason why an EECS major *might* be more prepared for say quantum mechanics than say a LSCS major would be that 1 year of Physics is required for EECS (required of all Engineering majors), whereas the classes are optional for LSCS. However, you can easily take the same exact classes as a LSCS student if you want.

    EECS is actually the CS department, so all pages will be marked with EECS. Even though they are two separate majors, they share pretty much everything. Just as an FYI, Berkeley has other programs that have a split choice between two colleges as well - Physics (L&S and Engineering) and Chemistry (L&S and CoC) come to mind.
    edited October 2019
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82770 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Just as an FYI, Berkeley has other programs that have a split choice between two colleges as well - Physics (L&S and Engineering) and Chemistry (L&S and CoC) come to mind.

    Similar major in different divisions:

    * CoE EECS, L&S CS.
    * CoE IEOR, L&S ORMS.
    * CoC chemistry, L&S chemistry.
    * L&S physics, CoE engineering physics.
    * L&S applied math or statistics, CoE engineering math and statistics.
    * CNR environmental economics and policy, L&S environmental economics and policy.
    * CNR various specialty biology majors, L&S molecular and cell biology or integrative biology.
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  • giantoctopusgiantoctopus 147 replies63 threads Junior Member
    edited November 2019
    Hi, I'm a new poster, if one is admitted to engineering, 1)how difficult is it to transfer to Letters & Sciences if it turns out engineering isn't for you? 2) Is it possible to double major both as a CS major in the engineering department with a humanities major in LS ?
    edited November 2019
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    @giantoctopus -

    1) it should be quite simple to go from Engineering to L&S. Not the other way around.

    2) It would be a lot simpler to double major in CS and humanities, for L&S. If you wanted to do the Engineering / Humanties L&S route, you would have to satisfy requirements for both schools separately, called getting simultaneous degrees. The net effect of this is probably 3-6 extra classes than a double major. However, do note that The College of Engineering will not accept simultaneous degree applications for EECS (unless you are in MET).
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  • ucbalumnusucbalumnus 82770 replies738 threads Senior Member
    Changing into L&S is described at https://ls.berkeley.edu/sites/default/files/advchangeofcollegepetition.pdf . But note that if you want to declare an L&S major with selective admission, you must meet the major's admission requirements (e.g. 3.3 GPA in CS 61A, 61B, 70 for L&S CS).

    Changing into CoE is much more difficult.
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  • giantoctopusgiantoctopus 147 replies63 threads Junior Member
    Thanks for your response. If you are well qualified as a student for acceptance to Berkeley in terms of grades, scores, ect. can you tell me how and why it's harder to apply into the engineering department for CS? Are you pretty much looking for students with a lot of computer science extracurricular experience or is taking a few classes in CS in HS and doing well, enough? Do you need to have done robotics, summer programs or that kind of thing? I'm interested in CS but my extracurriculars are more in the humanities.
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    The main difference is that you are applying directly for the EECS major in Engineering, which is what, 300 or so spots. Whereas you are applying in L&S Undeclared for L&S CS, which has probably around 70K+ freshman applicants for maybe 10K accepts.
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  • giantoctopusgiantoctopus 147 replies63 threads Junior Member
    Thank you. so I take it those extracurriculars are pretty important!

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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    edited November 2019
    I’m excited, a leading young professor who specializes in algorithms to process large, high-dimensional datasets, Professor Jelani Nelson, who Berkeley “stole” from Harvard earlier this year, will be teaching the undergrad CS 170 - Algorithms and Intractable Problems class next semester.
    edited November 2019
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  • giantoctopusgiantoctopus 147 replies63 threads Junior Member
    edited November 2019
    Do students get into engineering that don't have extracurriculars in it but stellar grades and scores?
    edited November 2019
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  • ProfessorPlum168ProfessorPlum168 4184 replies92 threads Senior Member
    Berkeley is holistic in its admissions. If you’re asking if someone with a 1600 SAT and perfect grades but no ECs can get in, possibly. If the person had no ECs and bad essays, probably not.
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