John | Apr 23, 2020 | 0
Introduction to Computing: Explorations in Language, Logic, and Machines
This book started from the premise that Computer Science should be taught as a liberal art, not an industrial skill. I had the privilege of taking 6.001 from Gerry Sussman when I was a first year student at MIT, and that course awakened me to the power and beauty of computing, and inspired me to pursue a career as a teacher and researcher in Computer Science.
When I arrived as a new faculty member at the University of Virginia in 1999, I was distraught to discover that the introductory computing courses focused on teaching industrial skills, and with so much of the course time devoted to explaining the technical complexities of using bloated industrial languages like C++ and Java, there was very little, if any, time left to get across the core intellectual ideas that are the essence of computing and the reason everyone should learn it.
With the help of a University Teaching Fellowship and National Science Foundation grants, I developed a new introductory computer science course, targeted especially to students in the College of Arts & Sciences. This course was first offered in Spring 2002, with the help of an extraordinary group of Assistant Coaches. Because of some unreasonable assumptions in the first assignment, half the students quickly dropped the course, but a small, intrepid, group of pioneering students persisted, and it is thanks to their efforts that this book exists.