programming: January 2009 Archives

"Computer Science is not a science," proclaims a professor at MIT, drawing an X over the word. He's introducing an introductory course on Programming called » 'Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs' .. aka SICP. (Watch the video yourself » HERE.)

The Wizard Book » Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Abelson & Sussman

Less than a minute into the lecture and already I'm curious. "If it's not a science," I wonder, "then...??"

"It might be engineering," he continues, as if reading my mind, "Or it might be art. We'll actually see that computer so-called 'science' actually has a lot in common with magic."

I smile at this point, having gained insight into the graphic displayed on the book's cover, understanding why some refer to it as » The Wizard Book.

Then he draws an X over the word 'Computer' and says, "It's not really about computers either." (Okay, now I'm really interested.)

"The reason we think Computer Science is about computers," he continues, "is for the same reason the ancient Egyptians thought geometry was about surveying instruments ..

.. » because, when a particular field is just getting started, and you don't really understand it very well, it's easy to confuse what you're doing with the tools you use."

So-called Computer Science (he explains) is really about formalizing intuitions & knowledge about » Process (a word he writes on the board .. he's a lefty, btw). He then clarifies himself by saying, "How to *do* things."

How to Design ProgramsBeen researching the best way to get my feet wet in the world of Programming .. and I think I might've found an answer » How to Design Programs.

More info about HtDP can be found at » Teach Scheme. It's based on the classic Structure & Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP), which which Peter Norvig calls "probably the best introduction to computer science."

SICP was created by two professors at MIT. You can actually watch the SICP videos » HERE (very cool). Here, too.

Everything about both SICP & HtDP is free (freely downloadable) .. tho you can also purchase dead-tree versions of these texts.

HtDP, which is a watered-down version of SICP, even comes with a graphical "programming environment" called DrScheme, which offers 5 incremental language-functionality settings (to avoid overwhelming the n00b):

  1. Beginning Student
  2. Beginning Student with List Abbreviations
  3. Intermediate Student
  4. Intermediate Student with Lambda
  5. Advanced Student

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This page is a archive of entries in the programming category from January 2009.

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