Computer Science Department
College of Arts and Sciences
CS-101 is a general introduction to computers and their applications
that assumes no previous knowledge of the subject. CS-101 introduces
computers and their uses in the arts and sciences -- what they are,
how they work, how they can be programmed, what they can and cannot
do. My philosophy in teaching this section of CS-101 is to emphasize
the basic concepts underlying computers and computation, and not just
the know-how. This course is for people who read about such topics as
VLSI or WWW and want to understand them, for people who need to have
data processed on the job, and for people who see the computerization
of our society and ask about the meaning of it all.
The topics covered in lectures, discussion sections, reading
materials, and homework assignments could be grouped into
the following four broad categories.
- Computer Anatomy (5 lectures; 2 homeworks):
category, the focus will be on demystifying the manner in which
computers operate through an understanding of the computer's
basic building blocks, peripherals, and technologies.
- Computer Software (7 lectures; 2 homeworks):
this category, the
focus will be on understanding the concepts underlying the design
and implementation of software systems with a particular emphasis
on algorithmic thinking. A cursory introduction to programming
languages and the software development cycle will be given.
- Computer Applications (4 lectures; 4 homeworks):
category, the focus will be on gaining a working knowledge of
four of the most important computer applications, namely: (1)
desktop publishing, (2) spreadsheet, (3) database, and (4)
internet applications. The bulk of the work in this category will
be done through hands-on homework assignments.
- Computer Science (7 lectures; 2 homeworks):
category, the focus will be on developing an appreciation for the
``science'' of computing. In particular, we will look at a small
number of problems that illustrate fundamental (i.e.
technology-independent) notions and concepts that are common to
computing systems in general and to software systems in
Relationship between Lectures, Sections, and Textbook:
- Much of the material covered in the lectures will complement the
textbook material and the material covered in the discussion
sections (i.e. the material necessary to tackle the
laboratory assignments). For topics not covered adequately in
the textbook [CC], I will be providing abridged on-line lecture
notes on the World Wide Web. These notes will not necessarily be
a complete transcript of the lectures and thus will not be
enough to understand the topics covered in class. Therefore, you
are advised not to miss the lectures!
- As explained above, the textbook and the lectures are
complementary. While the textbook provides a somewhat broader
(i.e. more introductory) treatment of the various topics,
the lectures will attempt to provide a somewhat deeper treatment
of a small subset of these same topics. For example, when
examining modem communication, the textbook does not go into
much depth regarding the difference between analog signals and
digital signals. This treatment will be provided in the
lectures. Other examples of in-depth coverage in the lectures
include the treatment of binary number systems, the design and
operation of computer arithmetic and logic circuitry, the
notions of algorithm complexity, etc.
- The relationship between the discussion sections and the
textbook and lectures is more straightforward. The discussion
sections will be concerned with coverage (or review of) the
material necessary to tackle the laboratory assignments and
problem sets. While coverage of new ``concepts'' will be minimal
in the discussion sections, coverage of ``how to'' for the various
software packages and other system functionalities (e.g. UNIX
walkthroughs, Macintosh GUI walkthroughs, etc.) that you have to
master in the laboratory assignments will be covered in the
discussion section (and not in the lectures).
- You are responsible for all topics/subjects covered in the
lectures and discussion sections, in addition to the assigned
readings from the textbook. And, since the topics covered in the
lectures and discussion sections will (to a large extent) be
complementary to the material in the textbook, reading and
mastering the information in the textbook will not be enough to
secure a good grade in this class.
- Finally, beware that the topics covered in the lectures and
discussion sections of CS-101 (B1) as well as the homework
assignments and tests are very different from those
covered in other sections of CS-101 (taught by other
Created on: 1995.01.12
Updated on: 1997.09.02
Maintainer: Azer Bestavros