At the Interface of Computer Science and Environmental Engineering


George F. Pinder




Research into the solutions of practical environmental problems often involves several elements of Computer Science. In our research we use elements of numerical mathematics, optimization, artificial intelligence and computer graphics, all of which can be catalogued, in part, under the general topic of Computer Science. Numerical mathematics are employed in the modeling of groundwater flow and transport. In an effort to simulate the natural degradation of contaminants in the subsurface, multiple phases (for example air and water in the soil) and the activity of microbes are modeled. Such models can be used in combination with optimization methods to arrive at engineering designs that minimize the cost of environmental restoration. When important information can be provided only subjectively, such as in the case of expert opinion, one can employ the theory of fuzzy sets within the context of approximate reasoning to augment an otherwise quantitative data base. In this case natural language is converted to mathematics that can then be used to enhance the quality and relevance of environmental engineering designs.