The baffling CS notions of "as-if" and "don't-care"

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Abstract

The notions of "as if" and "don't care" are essential notions in computational thinking. The former appears in the reformulation of tasks, reduction between tasks, auxiliary variables, and more. The latter is the core of non-determinism, asynchronous execution, and arbitrary choices in deterministic algorithms. The two notions are not intuitive, and require abstraction. We expect computer science (CS) graduates, who developed computational thinking during their studies, to demonstrate comprehension of these notions. Unfortunately, this may not be the case. In this paper we present a study of CS graduates, which reveals difficulties of limited comprehension and acceptance of these notions. We characterize the difficulties, relate them to cognitive aspects of abstraction, and offer some didactic suggestions.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationSIGCSE'10 - Proceedings of the 41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education
Pages385-389
Number of pages5
DOIs
StatePublished - 2010
Event41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE'10 - Milwaukee, WI, United States
Duration: 10 Mar 201013 Mar 2010

Publication series

NameSIGCSE'10 - Proceedings of the 41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education

Conference

Conference41st ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, SIGCSE'10
Country/TerritoryUnited States
CityMilwaukee, WI
Period10/03/1013/03/10

Keywords

  • Abstraction
  • Non-determinism
  • Task reformulation

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