Friday, November 4, 2011

Computation thinking blog assignment..

Here is a "guest lecture" for this course--titled "Computational Thinking". In this, Jeannette Wing, who was until recently the head
of National Science Foundation's  Computer and Information Science and Engineering, talks about how computational thinking--that Computer Scientists do for a living, 
is going to play a major part in everyone's  (not just CS students') life (just like philosophical thinking is not just for philosophy students).  

I would like you to either read either the article, or  the slides or hear the youtube lecture (they are not exactly identical but
close enough). Once you do, I would like you to comment on any points that caught your attention. 

You will have to do this by 11/18 (before the class). You don't necessarily have to agree with everything she says; you are welcome to be critical. 

Video (on youtube; 65min):



  1. I thought that this comment was interesting, "C.T. is modularizing something in anticipation of multiple users and prefetching and caching in anticipation of future use." (the C.T. part stands for computational thinking.) This concept known as object oriented programming is a hot topic as of late. In object oriented programming you modularize different parts of the programs so that it is easier to understand for those who come after you or to update the program or troubleshoot. OOP also makes it easier to replicate the program or change its purpose.
    ----------Michael William Gutierrez-------------

  2. I found the article pretty inspiring. I would love to live in a reality where computational thinking was the primary method of thought. It would certainly provide for a more Utopian society.

    However I have my reservations on whether that would ever actually happen. "Ubiquitous computing was yesterday’s dream that became today’s reality; computational thinking is tomorrow’s reality." Unfortunately I don't find this statement to be a certainty.

    I will take up the challenge to incorporate C.T. into my everyday thought processes but I simply can't speak for the rest of society. I have my hopes though.

  3. "One can major in computer science and do anything", this was the major takeaway for me. Often times when asked by friends and family what my major is, when i give the response of Computer Science, people associate it with Programming or IT jobs. In all honesty I believed this too, however after researching the field, through articles like this and through lecture discussions in class, has started to push me to try and use Computational thinking in day-to-day ways.

    However I feel the author misses a key point, if we are driven to think purely efficiently, faster, more analytical don't we lose the possibility of success through non-optimized methods? Some of the great things we use today, were either not the intended outcome or purely by accident. Things like the microwave oven,post-it notes,many artificial sweeteners, and corn flakes.

    Computational thinking is a great thing, and the author mentions that ultimately humans cannot be computers because humans are clever and creative, but I don’t believe that using prefetching and caching for storing items in a backpack is Thinking2.0.

  4. I hated the article. It seamed like the author was at a loss for words and used several different examples to try to explain what "computational thinking" is. Nothing really caught my interest, the example of computational thinking helping biology was interesting, but too brief to learn anything from.

    I think I would describe "computational thinking" as:

    converting from concepts and observation to mathematical abstractions to code/logical systems(pseudocode?) which sometimes can be run by a computer. Also, any reorganization about the "to"'s of the previous sentence.

    I think that definition includes optimization as well.

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  6. I find the article pretty interesting, agreeing and disagreeing with certain points. I agree with her fundamental statements, such as computer scientists and computer programmers being different and the difference between humans and computers, but I don't necessarily believe that "every child" should think computationally. I do agree with what Josh has to say on computational thinking, because there was a lot of opinion brought upon this article trying to show exactly what computational thinking was. Overall there were interesting points in the article I can understand, but there also was many opinionated points as well.

  7. I agree that certain aspects of Computer Science such as abstraction and decomposition are good skills for people to learn, but I think more advanced concepts aren't really useful for the everyday average person. Sort of like math; it is astoundingly useful and important in many fields but the average person will rarely ever use anything more than basic arithmetic after they are done with school. Computational thinking is certainly useful for bigger, more complex problems, but for the everyday problem examples that the author uses I feel like it's a case of artificially making the problem more complex. I will agree that it will useful for anything going into math or science related fields (economics, biology, etc), just as the author pointed out how useful computational thinking has been in some of those fields, but I don't feel it's something that's really necessary for EVERYONE to learn, past the basic concept of it.

    Unlike Josh, I don't think computational thinking has to be defined so restrictively, I feel it's thinking of something in more of procedural or logical way than one would normally think, in situations where 'thinking like a human' might not be the best approach. I heard someone once say Computer Science is just about problem solving, and computers just happen to be the medium computer scientists use to solve those problems (it was something like that).

  8. I found the article pretty good and I agree with some parts of it like the goodness of "computational thinking", but I think it is not necessary to expose pre-college students to computational methods and models. As "Jose Garcia" said, “Computational thinking is certainly useful for bigger, more complex problems, but for the everyday problem examples that the author uses I feel like it's a case of artificially making the problem more complex." (I agree with this opinion).

    In addition, I suggest making "Computational thinking" as optional course for who likes to develop his or her own thinking way. That is better than forcing them to take it as they will NEED IT (REQUIRMENT)!


  9. The first few points that got my attention are actually found at the beginnings of the article:

    "Computational thinking confronts the riddle of machine intelligence:

    What can humans do better than computers? and
    What can computers do better than humans?"

    People find this to be a mystery. I, personally, believe that the sole purpose of computers is to make everything easier for humans. After all, we humans created computers. And so humans are capable of anything computers can do. The only issues are getting what needs to be done much, much sooner and with as much accuracy as possible. That's where computers come in; to make things easier for humans.

    Overall, the article proved to be rather informative. I especially found Wing's comparisons of computational thinking and everyday experiences to be very interesting.

  10. The first few points that grabbed my attention:

    Computational thinking will be crucial to the future because it will be vital to many jobs and have multiple applications in the real world.

    "They give us the ability and audacity to scale".

    Computational thinking can be both abstract(the between layers) or automative(mechanizing the abstraction)


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