Exploring Computer Science with Scheme

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Lists: The Basic Data Structure. Repetition Through Recursion. Data Structures. Input and Output. Repetition Through Iteration. Advanced Uses of Functions.


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Operating Systems. They do not expose students to tools that are complex, difficult to control, and possibly useless by the time students enter the profession say six years later. Would you want to start your daughter on sledgehammers before she has ever seen a screwdriver? Second, most beginning programmers are in no shape to do anything industrial beyond weak, fragile, and faulty programming, say for Web pages.

Ask yourself: Do you really want to hand over your personal information to a Web site designed by a high school student with one course on programming?

Exploring Computer Science with Scheme (Undergraduate Texts in Computer Science)

Would you trust your money to software written by a programmer with nothing more than a high school course on programming? Would you fly in a plane whose software was written by your first-year programming class? So how do we know that the currently new thing is the right thing for six years from now when it matters?

Indeed, we regularly invite leading managers from leading companies to address this issue. Every one of them tells our students to study more than one language paradigm and to study the relationship between design paradigms. They insist that programmers must switch languages every few years. Because of these warnings, our students learn Scheme in the first semester and Java in the second a very natural transition , thereby being much better prepared for a wide variety of challenging jobs than even students who have had Java alone.

But students like fun things like games, graphics and animations! How am I supposed to sustain their interest with Scheme? How about with games, graphics and animations? You can do all this, and more, with Scheme. In our courses, within four months students write several graphical games, generate entire Web sites from programs, and build a basic compiler. This pace is of course much more intensive than the average high school course would follow, but even in high schools teachers have reported great success with graphical and game exercises.

The trend over the past 30 years is away from control-centric programming to data-centric programming. This new paradigm places data, not control-flow, in the center of all design activities. That is, the programmer carefully designs the classes of data that the program is to process and the legal operations on these classes of data.

Flowcharting has no place in this world. What is needed instead is training on reasoning about data. This is why object-oriented design patterns have made a huge splash in industry over the past few years.

Our curriculum introduces these and other related design techniques to students, but in a way accessible to beginners. If you wish to understand what we do, read the first part of our book. It's on-line and free and will remain so. Scheme won its author the ACM's Grace Murray Hopper award, which is given to a computer scientist under the age of thirty for a significant achievement a rare and remarkable honor. The person is Guy Steele, better known as one of Java's principal designers.

Study Java carefully and you will find Scheme all over it. Guy continues to serve on the Scheme language design committee. Scheme also inspired perhaps one of the finest computer science textbooks ever written: Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs , by Abelson and Sussman. Educators and researchers alike hail this as one of the most influential texts ever.

The book won its authors the ACM's highest award for educators a few years ago. Numerous universities and high schools worldwide use Scheme in various parts of the curriculum. In short, there is universal acknowledgement that this embodies some of the great ideas of computer science.

Exploring Computer Science with Scheme : Oliver Grillmeyer :

If you don't want to teach universally recognized great ideas, what do you want to teach? They say that when your only tool is a hammer, every problem looks like a nail. If you've missed out on languages like Scheme, ML, and Haskell, then you've missed some of the counterexamples to this claim. This deprives you of a significant portion of the innovations that computer scientists have made in programming languages. Students deserve to have access to this knowledge especially because it facilitates the teaching of programming.

Consulting hours will not be held the day the problem sets are due or the day after. There is no textbook for this course. There will be course handouts and lecture notes, which will be available on the course web site. If you are interested in acquiring books on Scheme, there is a partial list of both introductory and advanced texts below.

Those books that are available have been put on reserve in Carpenter.

The Scheme developement environment that we are using is called DrScheme. See the course software page for more information and documentation about the Scheme language and the DrScheme environment. Students are responsible for all material in the assigned readings, as well as material covered in lectures and in recitations. There will be five to six problem sets, two preliminary exams, and a final exam. In addition, we will periodically have short homeworks and in-class quizzes.

ISBN 13: 9780387948959

Each problem set will include written exercises and a programming assignment. Course grades will be based on a combination of the short homeworks, quizzes, problem sets and exam scores. The problem sets will account for approximately one third of the total grade. No late assignments will be accepted , but we will generally grade assignments immediately and return them within one or two class periods.

You should try to complete the programming assignments early, as we will not accept late work. The best use of your time and the machine's time is to think about the problems before typing anything at the computer.