INT 94PL
Freshman Seminar:
What is Computing?
Spring 2013
Description
Computer technology has produced many impressive gadgets that surround us
every day. However, its foundations are still a mystery to many. The purpose
of this seminar is to discuss the essence of computing, with the hope that
the students will gain some insight to the foundations of this fascinating
field and its future potential.
Instructor:
Tevfik Bultan
Email: bultan@cs.ucsb.edu
Office Hours: Tuesday/Thursday 10:00-11:00,
HFH 2123
Seminar webpage: http://www.cs.ucsb.edu/~bultan/courses/94PL-S13/
Meeting time:
11:00-11:50, Wednesdays,
HSSB 1237
Units: This will be a 1 unit seminar
Announcements
- No lecture on April 24th!
Motivation
As a professor of computer science I get to teach many courses on
computing. I enjoy teaching them because they cover interesting
topics. But they tend to be specialized and technical. Sometimes I feel
like I could motivate my students better and get them more excited about
computer science if I were to discuss some "big picture" questions about
computing. Questions such as: What is the essence of computing? What is
its future potential? Unfortunately, one has limited opportunities for
integrating such discussions to specialized technical courses.
So, I decided to offer a freshman seminar!
This seminar is not only targeting students with computer science or math
or engineering background. I hope that it is accessible to everyone
who is interested in computing. Some of the topics discussed in this
seminar are covered in advanced theoretical courses in computer science
departments. This seminar will omit many, maybe all, technical details
that would be required for rigorous discussion of these topics. But, I
believe that the fundamental concepts in computing can be explained without
getting lost in the math. I will try to make the seminar as understandable
and as entertaining as I can. No formulas, no graphs, just plain English.
I hope you enjoy attending it.
Course Work
Each week we are going to discuss a topic about computing.
There will be a reading assignment for each topic we discuss
(short essays written by the instructor).
Each student will need to do three things each week:
- Read the given reading assignment.
- Send the instructor an email (subject line INT94PL)
the day before the seminar that contains
1) one paragraph summarizing your views about the topic discussed in the
reading assignment and 2) one question that came to your mind while
reading the reading assignment.
- Attend the seminar and participate in the discussions.