Alan Perlis argued that computer science should be part of a liberal education.
Explicitly, he argued that all students should learn to program.
Because Computer Science is the study of process.
Automated execution of process changes everything
The Power and Fear of Algorithms
The Economist (Sept., 2007) spoke to the algorithms that control us, yet we don’t understand.
Credit Ratings, Adjustable Rate Mortgages, Google
C.P. Snow foresaw this in 1961.
Those who don’t understand algorithms, can’t understand how the decisions are made.
1970-1980: Alan Kay
Alan Kay (2004 ACM Turing Awardee)sees the Computer as humanity’s first metamedium
A medium that can represent all other media.
Programming as an important new medium
The computer-as-Dynabook is for creative metamedia exploration and reading
Fall 1999: Georgia Tech
Fall 1999: All students at Georgia Tech must take a course in computer science.
Considered part of General Education, like mathematics, social science, humanities…
Why did Georgia Tech make that decision?
Computing was a College.
Solved a problem for Engineering
Making a competitive distinction for Liberal Arts
It’s Already Happening: Computational Thinking
Computing is already cross-campus
Bio2010 (NRC) calls for programming for mathematical and computational models.
Physics teaches VPython for labs where they solve three-body problems.
Computer science provides the tools and metaphors for understanding our world
Jeanette Wing’s “Computational Thinking”
Scientists and engineers use computing to model, simulate, and understand.
Why shouldn’t students?
Richard Dawkins on Fresh Aire
GROSS: You close your book saying, "I am thrilled to be alive at a time when humanity is pushing against the limits of understanding." How do you think that's happening in your field of evolutionary biology?
Mr. DAWKINS: Well, it's the most exciting time to be a biologist… Since Watson and Crick in 1953, biology has become a sort of branch of computer science. I mean, genes are just long computer tapes, and they use a code which is just another kind of computer code. It's quaternary rather than binary, but it's read in a sequential way just like a computer tape. It's transcribed. It's copied and pasted. All the familiar metaphors from computer science fit.
Intl Affairs student (female): “I just wish I had more time to play around with that and make neat effects. But JES [IDE for class] will be on my computer forever, so… that’s the nice thing about this class is that you could go as deep into the homework as you wanted. So, I’d turn it in and then me and my roommate would do more after to see what we could do with it.”
“Did the class change how you interact with computers?”
Results from a survey a year later.
80% say “Yes”
“Definitely makes me think of what is going on behind the scenes of such programs like Photoshop and Illustrator.”
Results: CS1371 “Engineering”
Side Trip: How about CS? Back to our own CS1
A Context for CS1 for CS majors: Robotics
Microsoft Research has funded the Institute for Personal Robotics in Education
Tucker Balch, Deepak Kumar, Doug Blank
Joint between Bryn Mawr and Georgia Tech
Goal is to develop a CS1 with robotics as the context.
Added a camera and media computation abilities
Thomas Friedman on the Two Cultures
“In the latest edition, I added a whole section on why liberal arts are more important than ever. It’s not that I don’t think math and science are important. They still are. But more than ever our secret sauce comes from our ability to integrate art, science, music and literature with the hard sciences. That’s what produces an iPod revolution or a Google. ”
Microsoft wants employees who know context for CS
“The nature of these jobs is not closing the door and coding,” (Bill) Gates said. “The great missing skill is somebody who’s good at understanding engineering and bridges that [understanding] to working with customers and marketing…We can promise these people most of what they’re doing won’t be coding.”
Gates worried over decline in US computer scientists, ComputerWorld, July 18, 2005 (by Elizabeth Montalbano)
The Threads™ Curriculum
We have defined 8 Threads in Computing:
Computing and People
Computing and Information
Computing and Media
Computing and Platforms
Computing and Intelligence
Computing and Foundations
Computing and Computational Modeling
Computing and Devices (was Embodiment)
The BS in Computer Science under Threads™
Each Thread specifies the courses needed to know that area well.
From introductory computing, through advanced courses, to beyond Computer Science (Psychology, Physics, Computer Engineering).
A degree is the union of any two Threads.
Every Combination is a full Computer Science degree, but bridging disciplines and clearly different from “just programming.”
No Thread choice is necessary in first year, Can always choose different Threads during degree.
Why should we broaden computing education?
5-7K Computing vs. 700K “Computing + X”
Difference between Computer Science and Computing.
A Healthy Change in our Culture
Pedagogical and research methods.
Computer Scientists and Reading
Alan Perlis, Norbert Weiner, J.C.R. Licklider, C.P. Snow
Others included Vannevar Bush, Herbert A. Simon, Marvin L. Minsky, Jay W. Forrester, Grace M. Hopper, Claude E. Shannon, John G. Kemeny, Gene M. Amdahl