Big Ideas in Computer Science: Understanding the Digitized World
“Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes.” – Edgar W. Dijkstra.
Interaction with computers has become a big part of our daily life, but they do much more than help us with practicalities. They are tools for understanding the fundamentals of information, processes and human thinking. The insights they have brought us are some of the most important in human history, with far-reaching consequences for society.
In this course you learn to look with the eyes of a computer scientist, to understand the potential and limitations of computing and to apply these insights to such topics as social networks, biological processes, language and consciousness.
Specific subjects we investigate are:
The science of algorithms, their power, universality and limits. This includes some programming, but for the most part you explore algorithmics away from the computer.
- The science of data: encoding, compression and pattern recognition.
- Taming complexity: dividing the problem, the search as a general heuristic and quantum computing.
- Computing and philosophy: the ethics of big data and AI, free will and consciousness.
- You understand the possibilities – and limitations – of computing, and how they shape our world, our organizations and our thinking.
- You can apply computational thinking in a range of areas, even ones apparently unrelated to computing.
- You can interact knowledgeably with programmers and other IT specialists.