Monday, April 23, 2012

Thanks, Yale Daily News!

Harvard's CS50 class is nicely lauded -- by a column in the Yale Daily News

First, the Harvard-centric stuff:
The good news is that there’s an easy first step that Yale computer science could take to start addressing this issue. It pains me to say it, but we could learn a thing or two from a certain institution in Cambridge. One thing that Harvard has absolutely gotten right is its introductory CS50 class that teaches students of all majors the practical scripting and Web programming skills they need to apply tech to their other interests. My sister — who chose Harvard over Yale partially because of classes like CS50 — started the semester knowing almost nothing about programming and finished with a job offer from a tech startup. She might not even end up being a computer science major, but the class gave her a solid set of skills that she’s already putting to work.
But there's also a nice part in the beginning:
Code is the lingua franca of the 21st century. Whether it’s putting together a website for an advocacy campaign, writing a script to analyze some economic data or creating an app to help kids learn math, programming fluency has become a required skill for anyone looking to have an impact on the world.
I phrase it a bit differently, but try to give the same message when I explain what the Harvard CS department's goals are.  We think Harvard students are future leaders;  code is the "lingua franca" of the century;  surely, we want our leaders to understand the basics of coding.  


CSProf said...

There is a beautiful sentence by Knuth (I was unable to find it unfortunately) to the effect that until not so long ago there were special people who knew how to write, called scribes. Today, there is an similarly esoteric profession: programmers.

(Of course, Knuth also points out that "programmer" is not a profession, it is a specific skill, like a "musical ear".)

nick black said...

Dr. Mitzenmacher,

I believe the quote to which you refer has its most direct source in "An Oral History of Donald Knuth", Computer History Museum Ref: X3926.2007, page 40 of 73. Here's a link:

--Nick Black, Georgia Tech