Literature in Math and Computer Science
what is it? how to search it?

(originally prepared for R.E. Lee Scholars, July 1996, and revised June 1997)
In many academic fields undergraduate students must deal with the research literature of the discipline, and learn to search it for articles and books which contain the cutting edge(s) of the field. This seems to be less true in math and computer science, where so much of a student's energies go into mastering fundamentals, and the research literature is difficult for the beginner to read. Nonetheless, we have tools available for some access to research literatures, and anybody contemplating graduate study in technical fields needs to know something of how the research literature is structured and accessed.

W&L has subscriptions to a goodly array of journals in Math and Computer Science, but it's my impression that they aren't much used by students --partly because some are pretty abstruse, but also because there's not much connection between their contents and W&L's curriculum. Math and CS students don't usually do 'research' papers. So let's look at what our resources are (presently all these journals are located in Leyburn Library, though they'll be relocated to the Science Library in summer '97):

Math journals / CS journals

Now: how can we access what's in these journals? That's partly a matter of where they are indexed, and secondarily how the indexes can be searched. We have several tools that may be useful:

Another resource to explore: Springer Verlag offers us electronic access to full text of its journals.

And Academic Press does the same.

There is one print tool that you should be aware of: Mathematical Reviews publishes guides to most of the significant scholarly work in Math and related fields, and has an annual subject index which is actually usable and useful. You'll find this on LL1 in Leyburn. Here's a link to the AMS Mathematical Subject Classification, including links to sites with "electronic journals, preprints, Web sites and pages".

Mathematical Reviews does have a section on 'Computer Science', and another on 'Computer aspects of numerical algorithms'. Difficult to know how exhaustive this is as a representation of computer science literature.

Some important web resources: In computer science areas there seem to be a LOT of different ways to access the bleeding edge. Here are links to a few: Something you should know about, if only as a piece of prophetic writing: Vannevar Bush's As We May Think [1946]