01 Part I Introduction to Computing Machinery.docx

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Computer Science
Peter Rosenthal

Part I Introduction to Computing MachineryThese are sketchy notes maybe about like one might take down in class not like a textbook I might make them sleeker in future years but maybe theyre useful as they are Algorithm An algorithm is an effective procedure The meaning of procedure might be clear thats a method for doing something in terms of individual steps The usual analogy is a recipe in cooking By effective we mean that it really tells you how to do something Now in computer programming and in other computer use the standard of being effective is quite strict for two main reasonsunlike with people you have to be very precise in how you link up new instructions with old instructions I can say if you forget your password go to the CDF office and ask someone there I havent told you what to ask them that you need to talk to someone who actually works there rather than another student also looking for a password reset or for that matter the proper way to initiate a polite conversation with someone whom you dont know Obviously you cant just go in and demand What is my password They will want to know your name you will want to confirm that they are employees there etc I say obviously but there is in fact a significant body of knowledge underlying this and you access it all implicitly With computers you have to say how to do things or say clearly upon what prior basis you are buildingalso unlike with people the computer does not invent If you ask where the Sid Smith building is and I explain its two buildings that way and that its a white building and really its three buildings that way but the other buildings are red you probably wont get lost or confused and you may not even notice the fault in the directions The computer will get completely confused If you say something meaning the sum is xy when obviously that should have been abecause its a sum the computer will still subtract and if it ends up getting a result which causes an error it will emit an error message and make no attempt to correct the situation Even a misspelling which a human might not notice can be enough to prevent the computer from doing what you want it to Writing a computer program consists of two very different kinds of activitiesOne is the coming up with the underlying algorithms for the various portions of the programThe other is representing that algorithm as text in the correct form in a computer programming language formal notation so as to cause the algorithm to be carried out when the program runs on the computer The coming up with the underlying algorithm could be called inventing an algorithm or discovering an algorithmthis is a philosophical point which neednt concern us in this course More examples of algorithmsto log in type your account name return password return
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