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BIEN 001 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Methods Module 1: Introduction to Computers, Flowcharting and Programming in C Roger H. Johnson, September 5, 2000. Objectives: • Introduction to Computers and Computing Environment at Marquette.

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BIEN 001 Introduction to Biomedical Engineering Methods

Module 1: Introduction to Computers,

Flowcharting and Programming in C

Roger H. Johnson,

September 5, 2000


• Introduction to Computers

and Computing Environment at Marquette.

• Develop problem-solving strategies through flow charting.

• Introduction to program development environment.

• Introduction to C language programming.

• Develop two real C programs and run them.

Lectures 1-2:

• Computing History

• Computer Constituents

• Evolution of Programming

• Essential Programming Steps

• Syntax

• Develop Two Programs in C


• • Computing History

• Blaise Pascal and the mechanical adder

Pascal was a French genius and mathematician

who died young after religious mania.

In 1642 he invented a mechanical calculator to assist

in the adding of long columns of numbers in his

father’s tax office.

His most important writing is Thoughts on Religion.

• Gottfried Wilhelm Leibnitz’ adder/multiplier

German invention of 1673 (or1694)

which used stepped-gear-wheels.

• Joseph Jacquard and his pasteboard loom cards

1812: Pasteboard card read by the loom.

Hole pattern determined thread combinations.

• Charles Babbage and his analytical engine

1830’s: First the Difference Engine, which would have been

two tons of brass, steel and pewter clockwork.

1840: Then the Analytical Engine which could decide between

two courses of action. Steam-engine-powered, would

read punched cards, compute, request cards with bell.


• Herman Hollerith and the census device

1890: Used punched cards to process census information

and speed tabulation.

• Howard Aikens and the Mark I

1944: Harvard Mark I. Used mechanical counters and

electromagnetic relays to control its operation.

• John Mauchly and John Eckert and the Eniac

1946: Huge vacuum-tube computer; part of the war effort.

Ballistic computations and code-breaking.

• John Backus and FORTRAN

1954: First inovation to translate human-intelligible

language into machine language.

• Kernighan and Ritchie and C

1970’s: Dominant language in scientific programming today.

FORTRAN 77 persists and other language, such as Pascal,

Basic, and Cobol are used in niches.





Arithmetic and

logical unit



• Computer Constituents

CPU = central processing unit

= control unit + arithmetic and logical unit





Control Unit: Controls timing and directs all

computer operations.

Arithmetic Logic Unit: Makes all decisions

and performs calculations.

Memory: Stores instructions and data live

within the computer.

Input: Devices which input information into memory.

Output: Devices which print or display data from



• Evolution of Programming

Machine language: sequence of zero’s and one’s

= “binary string”.

(refer to handout on binary number system)

Assembly language: uses keywords to stand for

sequences of zero’s and one’s:

“ADD” = 0010001110001111

One keyword is one line of code

is one binary string is one instruction.

Compiler level: (“high-level” resembles English)

e.g. C = A + B



One line of code can contain several words and

require many machine language instructions.

Object oriented: New “pictorial” method we

won’t get into.


• Essential Programming Steps

1) A clear statement of the problem:

Decide what it is you really want to do. Helps to

decide if computer is really the way to do it.

2) A rough or general solution algorithm:

Write down in brief format the steps required

to solve the problem.

3) A refined algorithm of the solution:

More detailed sequence of steps.

4) A flowchart of the full solution process:

Draw a block diagram or “flow diagram”

of the computer program.

5) Computer language coding + documentation:

A line-by-line written version of computer code.

6) Creation of a computer file of the coding:

Type in the code using a text editor.

7) Compile and run the file:

Type a command which creates the object file

and the machine language version of code.

8) Obtain sufficient output to test the full

solution algorithm for generality.


An algorithm is a description of a solution

method. Synonyms are “procedure”, “method”,

“technique” or “(set of) rule(s)”.

In the programming context,

an algorithm must possess these characteristics:

• It must end after a finite number of steps.

• It must be describable by a finite sequence of

steps or instructions.

• It must be capable of dealing with all members

of a particular class of problem.


A flowchart is a pictorial representation of an


Flowcharts are sometimes called “block diagrams”

or “flow diagrams”.

A flowchart is a schematic of the logic used

in problem solution and, properly used,

should aid in the development

of a sound logical approach.

A completed flowchart should exactly represent

the sequence of steps coded into the program,

and can help avoid a number of common

programming errors.


Counter for Loop


Balance Computation

with Termination:


Example used in Lab 1:

C program to solve two linear equations

with two unknowns.

Of the several methods to solve this problem,

we choose to solve for x and y

by the use of determinants.


x + 2y = 5

5x - y = 3


For the general case:

Ax + By = C

Dx + Ey = F


It must be borne in mind that division by zero

is not allowed. This would happen with parallel lines:

x + 2y = 5

3x + 6y = 10


Steps Required in Writing the Program:

Steps 1 through 4 should be done

before you come in to lab:

1) Statement of the problem.

What we just did.

2) General Algorithm:

an overall solution process

which should consist of numbered steps.

3) Refined Algorithm:

expand the general algorithm;

add major variable names or formulas;

add solution detail to the plan.

4) Flow Chart: give complete control process;

supply minor control variables;

use algorithm-defined variables and formulas;

think through “what will happen if?”.

5) Program Coding: uses all of the above;

supplies the input and output

detail and documentation;

provides adequate comments.


Step 2) Example of General Algorithm:

1) Open data file.

2) Repeatedly

3) read coefficients

4) write system

5) calculate determinants

6) test for output case, process and output

7) End.


Example of refined algorithm:

1.1 Query for input filename

1.2 Open input file

2.1 For all data

3.1 Read coefficients A, B, C, D, E, F

3.2 If end of data, go to 6.9.

4.1 Write system: Ax + By = C

Dx + Ey = F

5.1 Den = AE-DB

5.2 Xnum = CE-FB

5.3 Ynum = AF-DC

6.1 If Den !=0, go to 6.5

6.2 If Xnum=0, write “no unique solution”

6.3 If Ynum !=0, write “no solution”

6.4 Go to 3.1

6.5 X = Xnum/Den

6.6 Y = Ynum/Den

6.7 Write “‘x =‘ X; ‘y=‘ Y.”

6.8 Go to 3.1

6.9 End.