Neither rocket science nor washing machine science
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School of Computing FACULTY OF ENGINEERING. Neither rocket science nor washing machine science. Roger Boyle, [email protected] Professor of Computing. It’s early. You were up late. You’re excused in going to sleep (if you’re even here). I will try too keep you awake. A competition.

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Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

School of Computing

FACULTY OF ENGINEERING

Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

Roger Boyle, [email protected]

Professor of Computing

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

It’s early.

You were up late.

You’re excused in going to sleep (if you’re even here).

I will try too keep you awake.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


A competition

A competition

N

A stolen idea or quotation.

Match number to name.

The drink of your choice for the prizewinner.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

1

Pay attention!

This is a lecture.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Question

Question -

How can I go forward when I don't know which way I'm facing?

2

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Backwards forwards

Backwards/Forwards

For the very young, “origins” and “history” are difficult to reason about.

Computer Science is very young.

Or is it?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Birth

Ferranti Pegasus I

University of Leeds, 1957

Birth

William Bragg

Nobel prize (Physics) 1915

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Birth1

Birth

Professor Sir Gordon Cox to Professor E R Rideal, Director of the Davy-Faraday laboratory of the Royal Institution, 1948

“... a good deal of computation is involved ...”

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Birth2

Calcolatrice Elettronica Pisana

Birth

Enrico Fermi

Nobel prize (Physics) 1938

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


La calcolatrice elettronica pisana piero maestrini

La Calcolatrice Elettronica Pisana (Piero Maestrini)

Fermi writes in 1954 to the Rector of the University of Pisa:

… the “computer” [would establish] a research tool for many fields of science [and would bring advantages] ...to students and researchers who would have the chance to experience and train themselves using these new computational tools.

Fermi died shortly afterward in Chicago. Foremost physicists recorded the letter as –

“Fermi’s last scientific bequest to Italy”.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

3

Bliss it was in that dawn to be alive

But to be young was very heaven!

  • Most present entered the game some time after its birth

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Adolescence

4

1979: Every computer scientist is a failed something else

Adolescence?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Adolescence1

Adolescence

  • We had patrician beginnings

  • We found our feet. And our identity. We grew up..

  • We recruited widely and strongly. Our garden was rosy.

The Britain that is going to be forged in the white heat of this [technological] revolution … [Harold Wilson, ex Prime Minister of the UK]

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Growing pains

5

Growing pains?

  • Balanced on the biggest wave …

… we seemed to fall off

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Growing pains1

6

Times are bad. Children no longer obey their parents, and everyone is writing a book.

Growing pains?

“ … unprepared for large scale complex IT projects … ”

“ … enrolment crisis.”

“ … declines pronounced in computer science.”

“ … falling behind in the capacity for discovery, innovation and development”

“ … first ever slump …”

“Computer Science is in trouble …”

“Computing Education is in crisis …”

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


The computer science fairy tale

The Computer Science fairy-tale?

  • We had patrician beginnings

  • We found our feet. And our identity. We grew up..

  • We recruited widely and strongly. Our garden was rosy.

  • The tide turned. Our garden is not rosy.

  • In true fairy-tale tradition, the happy ending is just around the corner.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Fairy tales

Fairy tales

7

All traditional fairy tales follow the same format:

  • Life is grim

  • Something comes along to improve it

  • There is a relapse, but not to the depths of point (1)

  • Everything is resolved. Everyone lives happily every after.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Fairy tales1

Fairy tales

  • (It’s rather important to stress that this only applies to fairy-tales: not Hamlet, Titus Groan, etc.)

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Fairy tales2

Fairy tales

  • (It’s rather important to stress that this only applies to fairy-tales: not Hamlet, Titus Groan, etc.)

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Fairy tales predestiny

Fairy tales: predestiny

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


An axis

0

An axis

  • You are here

Good

Bad

Dragons

Ugly sisters

Unhappy Deans

Happy ever after

Prince Charming

Happy Deans

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 1

Source: CRA, May 2005

Problems: #1

  • They don’t love us

  • any more

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 11

Problems: #1

Publications, speakers and conferences passim discuss this.

But:

Computing is Boring, Frustrating, Confusing, Hardware faults,

Internet failure, Difficult, Hard to keep up with, Nerdy,

Antisocial [Scottish schoolchildren, 2002]

We all await the ITICSE keynote “The magic wand: Increasing the number of CS fluent high school teachers”

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 1a

8

“One of the tragedies of the whole “ICT” agenda is that just when the country desperately needs architects (who earn big bucks), the bright kids in school are getting mandatory lessons in bricklaying, with bent tools, crap materials and bored teachers, and being told 'this is architecture'.

Small wonder they choose to be lawyers instead, and our student numbers keep dropping.

Problems: #1a

  • “IT/ICT” - Someone is taking our name in vain

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 1a1

Problems: #1a

  • We are trying to combat active distraction introduced in the nursery.

  • This is not a new revelation:

  • CS4HS, CS4FN, EISS, CCTA, …

  • We all still await the ITICSE keynote “The magic wand: Increasing the number of CS fluent high school teachers”

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 2

9

The chief distinction in the intellectual powers of the two sexes is shown in a man's attaining higher eminence in whatever he takes up than can a woman.

Problems: #2

  • Some of them never loved us in the first place.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 21

Problems: #2

Source: CRA, May 2005

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Solutions 2

Solutions ?: #2

  • E.g., “Computer clubs for girls”?

… you and your girls could explore how to make a quiz, a seasonal e-card, an interactive poster, a CC4G Club homepage or membership card

We all still await the ITICSE keynote “The magic wand: Increasing the number of CS fluent high school teachers”

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Solutions 21

Keeping the pipeline stoked:

The BCSWomen Undergraduate Lovelace Colloquium Leeds, June 16th

http:www.comp.leeds.ac.uk/bcswomen

Solutions ?: #2

Leah Buechley, CS at University Colorado

See ITICSE 2007

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 3

Problems: #3

Some of them just don’t [want to] know we’re here.

Whose fault is that?

Me: Had you thought about studying at university?

17yo: Nah, I’m going to get a job …

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 31

Problems: #3

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 32

Problems: #3

“ … bicycles, skate-boards or roller-blades must not be used … “

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 33

Problems: #3

  • Top universities fail to spend £3m set aside to attract poorer students. (“The Guardian”, January 23rd 2008)

  • poorer students are being put off applying to university for fear of getting into debt and very few understand the bursaries on offer

  • many do not know if they are eligible for bursaries and that only a small minority knew where to find information

  • exam reforms could disadvantage state school pupils

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Problems 34

3 universities, 10 colleges, 11 municipal libraries, …

(Born 1932)

Problems: #3

  • http://www.morethanyouthink.com/

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

On the other hand, it certainly isn’t all bad

  • Biocomputing

  • Grid computing

  • Web science

  • Quantum computing

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

2008

  • data are Big

and data are wild

… flickr, youtube, facebook, wikipedia, …

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Big data

Big data

  • It’s not just fun to have: it drives a lot of what we do.

  • Students at the University of Washington are about to begin a large-scale simulation of a future in which you and your items are tracked by tiny monitoring devices we know as RFID tags. (http://blog.wired.com/wiredscience/2008/02/social-networks.html)

  • Google image labeler. (http://images.google.com/imagelabeler/)

  • Yahoo’s flickrtag miner (http://research.yahoo.com/taglines/)

  • More data usually beats better algorithms (Anand Rajaram, Stanford, March 2008, http://anand.typepad.com/datawocky/2008/03/more-data-usual.html).

  • “ … stockpile personal secrets …”; “300000 people will have access to the NHS database” (Henry Porter, The Observer 25th November 2007).

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Big data1

Asbestos fibre in lung tissue

Matthew Clifford, May 2007

Visualisation of a Kohonen Map of gene ontology annotations

Keeran Brabazon, May 2008

Images: 12000x80000 pixels – fibres 30-50 pixels long

Big data

But we should involve our students in this directly -

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What s going on

Quantitative findings of any material and energy changes preserve their full context only through their being seen and understood as parts of a natural order.

10

What’s going on?

There is a context to what we see.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What s going on1

What’s going on?

  • Digital Natives and Digital Immigrants (Prensky)

  • used to receiving information really fast

  • like to parallel process and multi-task

  • prefer their graphics before their text

  • prefer random access

  • function best when networked

  • thrive on instant gratification and frequent rewards

  • prefer games to “serious” work.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What s going on2

11

What’s going on?

Every computer scientist is a failed

something else

Not any more

But they are coming from a different place to us

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


The liquid world 2 nd modernity

The Liquid world / 2nd modernity

  • the shrinking of space abolishes the flow of time

  • inhabitants live in a perpetual present

  • people are constantly busy and perpetually ‘short of time’

  • residents of the first world live in time; space does not matter for them

  • we occupy a world of communication networks in which social and physical space have diverged

  • social networks are not being added on to the national container; they are changing its nature

  • a society preoccupied with the future … [with] a variable trust in industry, government and experts

  • [Zygmunt Bauman, Ulrich Beck, Anthony Giddens]

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Beyond our internet

12

Beyond “our” Internet

… production of useless products for a throwaway society …

… contacts are hastier and communication has less depth …

… life is characterised not by progress, but by a simple continuation …

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

13

  • History is more or less bunk. We don’t want tradition. We want to live in the present and the only history that is worth a tinker’s damn is the history we make today

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Rose sj berg et al oslo

ROSE: Sjøberg et al., Oslo

The Relevance of Science Education

… the predominant zeitgeist has a major influence on young people’s way of thinking about and understanding their world …

… society emphasises values like environment, democracy, care, self actualisation … recruitments to medicine, biology, environment are not falling & girls often outnumber boys …

What do you want to be when you’re grown up?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Rose sjoberg et al oslo

ROSE: Sjoberg et al., Oslo

“School science is interesting”

Africa

Asia

S Europe

E Europe

N Europe

Japan

Scandinavia

http://www.ils.uio.no/english/rose/

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Rose sjoberg et al oslo1

ROSE: Sjoberg et al., Oslo

“I like school science better than most other subjects”

Africa

Asia

S Europe

E Europe

N Europe

Japan

Scandinavia

http://www.ils.uio.no/english/rose/

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Rose sjoberg et al oslo2

ROSE: Sjoberg et al., Oslo

“I would like to become a scientist”

Africa

Asia

S Europe

E Europe

N Europe

Japan

Scandinavia

http://www.ils.uio.no/english/rose/

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

  • What’s going on?

There is nothing new under the sun (Ecclesiastes 1:9)

We are Computer Science.

Meaning?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Nothing new

… nothing new …

Communities … are bound by intricate socially constructed webs of belief which are essential to understanding what they do. (Brown et al. 1989)

The office of the physicist … has pictures on the walls of Einstein and Oppenheimer; the sociologist prefers Durkheim and Weber. (Clark 1983)

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Our culture

14

… walk into a sterile room … find viruses, Trojan horses, worms, bugs, bombs, crashes, flames, twisted sex changes, and fatal errors …

Our culture

  • The general public have no problem identifying a Computer Scientist .

  • How would we define ourselves? Vocabulary? Décor?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Our culture1

15

How can I explain when you know nothing of this game?And the rules are only mine to know.

Our culture

  • Culture?

  • … students are too often asked to use the tools of a discipline without being able to adopt its culture …

  • (Brown et al.,1989)

  • … student do not only learn knowledge in the classroom, they learn a set of practices …

  • (Boaler, 2002)

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Physics

Physics

  • Durrani M, Physics: past present and future, Physics World, December, 1999:

  • What have been the 3 most important discoveries in Physics?

  • Which 5 physicists have made the most important contributions to Physics?

  • What is the biggest unsolved problem in your field?

  • What is the biggest unsolved problem in the rest of Physics?

  • Would you study physics if you were starting university this year?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Physics1

16

Physics

  • A physicist's theories are worthless unless he can explain them to the barmaid at the local pub.

(Can I do that?)

(Can you do that?)

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


The cs pantheon

17

Unhappy is the land that has no heroes

The CS Pantheon

The reconstruction of scientific development which focuses on the “great men” and on the linear and accumulative sequence of discoveries represents a distorted picture which coincided all too neatly with an idealized picture of the scientific enterprise (Graham et al., 1983)

Unhappy is the land that has no heroes

Unhappy is the land that is in need of heroes

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


The cs pantheon1

Votes

Tie-breaker: Who are numbers 1 and 2 in the CS pantheon?

The CS Pantheon

History is not a progression of great {wo}men.

But bear in mind the shadow of Bragg, Fermi, …

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


And so

And so

  • Issues:

  • There’s what we were, what we are, and what we want to be. This is a progression our students should learn. This is a progression with which our students should be imbued.

  • And then there’s what our students are, and what they might want to be.

  • Are we addressing these?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What and who we are

What and who we are

  • language wars

  • “objects first/objects last” debates

  • CS1

  • TCP/IP

  • are all jolly important, but not (really) the problem.

  • Consider how we do what we do.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What and who we are1

What and who we are

  • Perhaps - :

  • Teach “Programming for Research” (in addition to “Programming”)

  • Write a blueprint for the 10 minute DVD “Computing and Telecomms in 2030”

  • Introduce the relevance of scale

  • How many golfballs fit inside a Boeing 747?

  • How big is the GoogleEarth disk farm?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


What and who we are2

So worry less about curricula, bodies of knowledge, “Grand Challenges”* and other attempts at self definition.

*Unless this is a political device to attract resource.

What and who we are

Physics -"Your questions are ridiculous," replied one eminent surface scientist.

Agonising about defining who we are is lack of self-confidence. Are we oldies worried about being a “failed something else”?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Entering the liquid world

Entering the Liquid World

“ … students today are adept at multitasking and expect to be connected in sophisticated ways; any attempt to circumvent these tendencies will fail.” [G Jackson, CIO, University of Chicago]

We’ll have to meet them halfway, at least.

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Entering second modernity

Entering Second Modernity

  • Leah Buechley’s approach appealed directly to the Digital Native

  • “Engaging” with the Native’s lingua franca can be fraught. But we’re already doing it for our own purposes and this must be an opportunity.

  • What are you going to do about the backs of laptops you lecture to?

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


The fairy tale

The fairy tale …

Bad

Good

  • The vertical axis wasn’t labelled.

0

Dragons

Happy ever after

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science1

Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

and there’s a big future in what we are

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Road to nowhere

Road to nowhere?

… we don’t know where we've been …

… we're on a road to nowhere …

18

But we do and we’re not.

And that’s what we should be teaching our students …

… so they can understand the route map in their world

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


Neither rocket science nor washing machine science

19

  • This is the end

rdb, University of Leeds, ITICSE 2008


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