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cs150: Notes 1

Assignments Due

Notes and Questions

What is Computer Science?

Why is Computer Science not a real science?

Why is Computer Science not really engineering?

What is a liberal art?

I make bold to say that I never have despised anything belonging to erudition, but have learned much which to others seemed to be trifling and foolish. Some things are worth knowing on their own account; but others, although apparently offering no return for our trouble, should not be neglected, because without them the former cannot be thoroughly mastered.

Didascalicum, Hugo of St. Victor, around 1120

Moore's "Law": Gordon Moore, co-founder of Intel, observed in 1965 that transistor density approximately doubles every 18 months. In rough terms, this means that the amount of computing power you can get for a fixed price doubles every 18 months. (Its not a "law", its an observation, but so far it seems to hold remarkably well.)

If it takes 60 seconds to compute a photomosaic for Problem Set 1 today on a typical PC, estimate how long it will take cs150 students in 2010 to compute the same photomosaic? How long will it take in 2013?

Are there any non-recursive natural languages?
What would happen to a society that spoke one?


The MIT Instrumentation Lab had been designing software for the Apollo onboard guidance system even before the word software was invented. I still remember the first time I told my wife that I was in charge of "Apollo Software". She exhorted me: "Please don't tell any of our friends!"

Some Funny Things Happened on the Way to the Moon, Richard H. Battin, 1989.

I do not know when I have been so tantalized by anything, and should be ashamed to say how much time I have spent upont it, in vain. These Functional Equations are complete Will-o-the-Wisps to me. The moment I fancy I have really at last got hold of something tangible and substantial, it all receded further and further and vanishes again into thin air...

Ada Byron, letter to Augustus De Morgan, 27 November 1841.
(From Ada, the Enchantress of Numbers, by Betty A. Toole, 1998.)

... Enough is known already of the diverse applications of computing to recognize the birth of a coherent body of technique, which I call computer science ... Whether computers are used for engineering design, medical data processing, composing music, or other purposes, the structure of computing is much the same ... "

George Forsythe, coining the term "Computer Science" in 1961.

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