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Computer science for the many

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1 Author(s)
Biermann, A.W. ; Dept. of Comput. Sci., Duke Univ., Durham, NC, USA

People read in the newspapers about computer chips, supercomputers, artificial intelligence, and myriad new technologies, and they want to understand them. Is there a better way to give them a grasp of computing than by providing the superficial view a typical of ordinary "computer literacy" courses, without making them struggle through the rigorous curriculum required in a computer science education? Yes, there is. This article describes a first course for nonmajors that covers a surprisingly broad set of topics in substantial depth. Advances in teaching methods involving an appropriate selection of topics, proper coverage of those topics, and the use of animated simulations can significantly ease the teaching of computer science to nonspecialists. The course described enables students to develop skill in programming, learn the fundamental mechanisms of computer hardware and software, and gain a substantial understanding of important topics such as computational intractability, noncomputability, parallel architectures, and artificial intelligence.<>

Published in:

Computer  (Volume:27 ,  Issue: 2 )