CS101 Big Ideas

< CS101

Here at the start of class, I'd like to look briefly at a few big ideas that we'll see over the quarter.

1. Algorithm

An "algorithm" is the idea or plan of how to compute something - e.g. the algorithm to produce a bluescreen image from two images. When you are programming, writing code, you are taking the algorithmic idea and translating it to code the computer understands.

2. Computers and code are mechanical

The computer does not have insight on its own. It just runs whatever code it is given mechanically. Writing code in CS101, you'll get a real appreciation for this idea.

This implies...

3. Small code, Mass data

Often the code you write will be quite short. The computer can run the short piece or code over millions of billions of data items. This is a powerful combination - the code has some insight in it, and the computer is good at applying it massively.

4. Moore's Law

Computer hardware gets significantly cheaper and more powerful year after year. E.g. 4 years ago your phone olds 4 GB of data. Now for about the same cost it holds 16 GB (4x more). That's Moore's law.