Computing at USC Mathematics

Please be aware of the single most important resource for Mathematicians: MathSciNet. There you can access abstracts of all Mathematics publications and find out "who does what". In many cases, the publications are directly linked. To access the service, you need to have a USC IP number (at home this requires a VPN set-up - see below). Please bookmark the link

Here are some frequently asked questions regarding computing at the mathematics department.

1. Where and whom should I contact to get my basic account set? What do I need to do first before I can request an account?

Basic accounts are created automatically by ITS. To activate your account, go to the web page

2. Which rooms in our department can I use to access computers, printers, and scanners? Do I need any keys or passwords to enter?

The graduate lab is located in KAP 405A, and is available to you 24 hours a day, 7 days a week. There are several PCs and a laser printer in KAP 263. You will be given a key to the graduate lab by Alma.

The instructional lab is located in KAP 265, and is available by reservation for teaching classes or supplemental study / work hours for students in classes they are teaching. Reservations for the room can be made with Chaunte. There are is a printer in this room.

The Undergraduate Labs are now part of the Math Center (KAP 263) -- there will be computers in the main section of the Math Center and an attached classroom lab (KAP 265) that will be available when the Math Center is open and the room is not reserved for a lab.

3. Where can I learn about the Blackboard system?

4. How can I set-up my own web page?

You can set it up on the Unix system; your account there is generated at the same time as your email account.

You need to create a directory called 'public_html' in your home directory, and use the command 'chmod 701 public_html' to set the permissions for the directory so it can be accessed but not altered by other users.

All your web files need to be inside the public_html directory, but you can organize them as you like. Every file needs to have its permissions set; 'chmod 705 filename', and every subdirectory has to be executable: 'chmod 701 directory'. Your home directory should also be executable.

Once the web page has been set up, it will be accessible at a URL similar to the following example:

More detailed information is available from ITS at

5. I have my own PC/Mac; how can I set it up at home/university to be able to use USC resources?

You will need to install the VPN client on your machine. The VPN client is available at

Note that because you have to have access to USC resources, you will have to download the VPN client while on campus, and then take it home on a memory stick, flash drive, zip disk, etc and install it, OR if you have a laptop, bring the computer to campus and download and install the software here.

6. Can I use wireless at USC and how?

You can use wireless at USC. To use the campus wireless network, you simply need to turn your wireless card on, connect to "USC Wireless" and open a web browser. A web page will come up requiring you acknowledge the USC Wireless network policies. Once you do, the computer will be authorized for one week and you should be able to access the Internet normally. Once the authorization period has elapsed, you should be presented with the authorization page again.

You can avoid the authorization step by registering your wireless address (also known as the hardware address, Ethernet address or MAC address) with ITS. Registration is optional, but some mobile devices (Blackberry, iPhone, &c) may be unable to forward your browser to the acknowledgment page; in those cases you will have to register the device before you can use it on the USC Wireless network.

Registration can be completed at

You will need your ITS-provided username and password to access the registration site.

7. Whom should I contact for help and problems?

Michael Shields x-02436 KAP 104F

8. Is there anything else important to know?

ITS runs 'public' computing centers all over campus, and our students can use them as well as our own labs... More information (locations and hours) is available at

The Seminar Room (KAP 249), Lecture Room (KAP 414) and Conference Room (KAP 427) will all have a podium equipped with a computer and overhead projector, and a video port so laptops can be used with the projector.

Because USC is a large campus with a largely open network, it's very important that students using their own computers to connect to the campus wireless network have virus software installed. (We require it for our own wireless network, as well.) Free (Norton) antivirus software is available from ITS at and from a variety of vendors online. I can help you install the antivirus software if needed.

Thank you very much to Michael Shields for preparing all the information!

Last update: August 17, 2010