Image ©iStockphoto.com/ Kiyoshi Takahase Segundo

To reading, writing, and arithmetic, let’s add computational thinking.

Jeanette Wing, President’s Professor of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and Associate Director for Computer and Information Science and Engineering at the NSF, spoke at SFI July 11 about the need for computational thinking to become a fundamental skill used by everyone.

“When your daughter goes to school in the morning, she puts in her backpack the things she needs for the day. That’s prefetching and caching. Which line do you stand in at the supermarket? That’s performance modeling for multi-server systems,” she said.

“We are often too easily swept up with the rapid progress in technology and the surprising uses by society of our technology that
we forget about the science that underlies our field,” she said. Accessing the eld’s scientific drivers to solve problems at all levels will open up new research avenues and educational opportunities.

Wing said computational thinking has already influenced many disciplines, from the sciences to the arts. The NSF’s new Cyber-enabled Discovery and Innovation Initiative now is bringing computational thinking to fundamental science and engineering.

“Just as the printing press facilitated the spread of the three R’s, computing and com- puters will facilitate the spread of computa- tional thinking,” she said. 

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