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Students have many questions about what research in computer science is and what opportunities there are. This FAQ attempts to answer these questions and more.
What does it mean to do research in computer science?
Research is meant to answer some question. Often, you'll pose a problem or question, propose a solution, implement the solution, and evaluate the solution to see how good it is. Unlike in classes, there often is no defined end point.
Examples of research questions are “Does new technique X perform better than existing technique Y to accomplish Z?” and “Can we create a system that does X with properties A, B, and C?”
What type of project can I work on?
You can either pick a faculty advisor you want to work with and see what type of projects they are currently working on, or you can pick a topic and see which advisor works in that field. Sometimes faculty have ideas that are ready to be worked on, and sometimes, we are willing to advise you on your own idea, even if it isn't in our area. You can find information about the current research projects on the Department's Web Page.
Can I do research at places other than W&L?
Yes, many schools have REU (Research Experience for Undergraduate) programs in Computer Science. You can find some of these programs through the NSF REU page and the CCC's page for undergraduate research opportunities and you can search the Web to find more. We have more information on our Research Opportunities page.