Owen Astrachan: The Cruelty of Really Teaching Computer Science Redux

Categories: Event

Is our discipline of computer science in a time of crisis? Our field has helped unlock the human genome, has allowed a hand-held device to be a gateway to the world’s information, and has transformed communication and society. Yet students do not want to study computer science. Do enrollment trends portend serious problems requiring immediate solutions or is the crisis greatly exaggerated?

In 1988 Dijkstra excoriated the then current practice of teaching computer science by programming computers using ad hoc methods when he wrote about the “Cruelty of Really Teaching Computer Science”. When we revisit this question today we must rise above discussions about whether Scheme is better than Java, which IDE is better for novices, and what the role of the command-line is in today’s curriculum. We must discuss whether teaching computer science today should be based on understanding recursion and the Towers of Hanoi or a single nucleotide polymorphism in a DNA sequence. We need to leverage new modes of access and communication in developing and building our curriculum. Should we build our courses on concepts that will let our students design and build the next BLAST or the next Web-CT?

In this talk I will discuss possible directions we can take in teaching computer science and why if we look to ourselves for answers, rather than to other disciplines, we may lose our franchise within the university.

More information: http://www.cs.ubc.ca/events/seminars/csicics.shtml


Thursday, October 6, 2005 - 16:00 to 17:30


DMP 310



When: to

Where: DMP 310 - 6245 Agronomy Rd, Vancouver, BC, V6T 1Z4

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