[Edu-sig] SIGCSE 2006 - Special Session on Teaching with Python

Brad Miller bmiller at luther.edu
Mon Feb 27 00:03:51 CET 2006

On Feb 26, 2006, at 8:23 AM, Arthur wrote:

> Brad has been quiet about his publication
>    Problem Solving
>    with Algorithms
>    and Data Structures
>    Using Python
Thanks for the plug.
> http://www.fbeedle.com/053-9.html
> It's certainly of interest to me.
> Of course Alan Kay expressed this week that the teaching of  
> algorithms and data structures in CS is a problem:
> that:
> """nothing exciting about computing today has to do with data  
> structures and algorithms"""  (Kay being paraphrased at
> http://www.windley.com/archives/2006/02/alan_kay_is_com.shtml)
I don't know how accurate the paraphrasing is of what Kay said but  
the analogy doesn't work very well for me.
To quote from the above link:

One of Alan’s undergraduate degrees is in molecular biology. He can’t  
understand it anymore despite having tried to review new developments  
every few years. That’s not true in computer science. The basics are  
still mostly the same. If you go to most campuses, there is a single  
computer science department and the first course in computer science  
is almost indistinguishable from the first course in 1960. They’re  
about data structures and algorithms despite the fact that almost  
nothing exciting about computing today has to do with data structures  
and algorithms.

I can go over and check with my biology colleagues tomorrow, but I'm  
pretty sure they still teach undergrads about molecules and cells in  
introductory biology.  Sure the latest developments are hard to  
understand but I doubt they are being taught at the introductory level.

Data structures and algorithms may not be exciting (for Kay), but  
they are as fundamental to computing as cells are to biology.

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