David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science

David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science

The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science is the School of Computer Science at the University of Waterloo. Part of the Faculty of Mathematics, the school comprises 77 faculty members, nearly 300 graduate students, approximately 2100 undergraduates, and 55 staff members.



In 1965, when Mathematics was still a department within the Faculty of Arts, four third-year mathematics students (Richard Shirley, Angus German, James G. Mitchell, and Bob Zarnke) wrote the WATFOR compiler for the FORTRAN programming language, under the direction of lecturer Peter Shantz. "Within a year it would be adopted by computing centres in over eight countries, and the number of student users at UW increased to over 2500." Later on in 1966, two mathematics lecturers (Paul Dirksen and Paul H. Cress) led a team that developed WATFOR 360, for which they received the 1972 Grace Murray Hopper Award from the Association for Computing Machinery.

UW's Faculty of Mathematics was later established in 1967. As a result, the Department of Applied Analysis and Computer Science (AA&CS) was created. By 1969, AA&CS had become the largest department in the faculty. At that point, the first two PhD degrees in computer science were awarded, to Byron L. Ehle, for a thesis on numerical analysis, and to Hugh Williams, for a thesis on computational number theory. In 1975 the department dropped the words "Applied Analysis" and became simply the Department of Computer Science.

In 1982, the Institute for Computer Research (ICR) was established. Its goals were "to foster computer research..., facilitate interaction with industry, and encourage advanced education in computer science and engineering." Also that year, the Ontario government announced plans to build the Davis Centre, current home of the School of Computer Science. The groundbreaking was in April 1985 and the Davis Centre was formally dedicated on November 10, 1988.

On May 1, 2002, the department officially became the School of Computer Science. On November 18, 2005, it was renamed again to the David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science, in recognition of the establishment of the David R. Cheriton Endowment for Excellence in Computer Science. Cheriton had recently donated $25 million to the university.

Support for computing within the Math Faculty (and therefore the School) had been historically provided by the Math Faculty Computing Facility (MFCF) and ICR. In 2003, MFCF was split to create the Computer Science Computing Facility (CSCF).


The David R. Cheriton School of Computer Science offers several diverse undergraduate programs including:

In general, the philosophy of the undergraduate program is to build a solid foundation of mathematics and computer science during the first three years of the program, allowing students more flexibility in fourth year. Required courses for all computer science programs include courses in combinatorics, data structures, algorithms, compilers, software engineering and operating systems. The curriculum is also designed to encourage either significant depth in an area outside of computer science (such as in the Bioinformatics Option) or exposure to a variety of areas outside of the computer science.

The school also offers Masters of Mathematics and Ph.D. graduate programs.


Further reading

  • Peter James Ponzo (1992). Computer science at Waterloo: a history to celebrate 25 years, 1967-1992. University of Waterloo. 

External links

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