[Edu-sig] CTL: Computer Thinking Language

kirby urner kirby.urner at gmail.com
Wed Mar 4 22:47:33 CET 2009

> OK, let's stick with 'return' unless someone comes up with a better word or symbol.  At least it is a common keyword in all the languages that students are likely to move up to.  Nothing to unlearn.

Or "down to" -- most languages tend to be lower level than Python.

A common next destination would be C++ using Zelle's book (posted news
from the publisher recently), or Java.

Or maybe next stop is Mathematica or MathCad, who knows.

Depends if this is a CS sequence or a more open-ended course for many
different majors.

I think smart design puts a multiple-majors-friendly course up front,
and does *not* use just one language, though it may center around one.

At Princeton, our intro to programming included FORTRAN, PL/1, SNOBOL,
APL, Assembler and a few others, all in the same course.  Today, it
might be Python, J, Scheme and... [fill in the blank].

> You are right.  There is a "traditional order" of operations.

Not in the J language.  Too many operators to decide "precedence
rules" so it's strictly right to left evaluation.

"Depends on the notation" is the message to drum home.

Don't get trapped in that wrong-headed view that any one notation is
*the* notation.

With Iverson, I classify math notations into two:  machine-runnable
and not machine-runnable.

Since Mathematica, a lot more is now runnable, including using
somewhat traditional notation, although this wasn't precise enough
(too sloppy) and needed some fixing.

The not-machine-executable stuff is probably more suitable for
declared math majors, whereas those just getting their feet wet or
planning a different career, would be better served by executable
stuff.  Calculators don't hack it.


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