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Unformatted text preview: I NTRODUCTIONS , O VERVIEW , S CHEME 1 GEORGE WANG firstname.lastname@example.org Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Sciences University of California, Berkeley June 21, 2010 1 Overview My name is George Wang, and weve got a great staff of TAs, Readers, and LAs to help all of you this semester. Please take a minute to say hi to me and them in Lab later today :). Before I go over course content and administrivia, Id like to jump straight into the course. 2 The Big Picture Computer Science is an interesting name for the field, since really, it is neither about computers nor is it a science. If you want to study the construction and design of computers, you want to be studying electrical engineering. And excepting more theoretical elements, computer science is much more of of an abstract engineering discipline. Abstract, in the sense that in most fields you have to be concerned with the physi- cal limitations of the world. In Computer Science, we can deal with problems devoid of the constraints of reality. This is something I think is really great. Were not teaching you Scheme, since as I said, youll know Scheme by tomorrow. Were teaching Com- puter Science. This is analogous to teaching Literature through Shakespeare or Milton, or whatever. And the central idea to this course and CS and much of engineering is Abstraction. Consider this. Maybe, but hopefully not, you drive a car to school. To speed up, you press the gas pedal. To slow down, you hit the brakes. To turn you use the steering wheel. But whats amazing is that once you learn these things, theyre the same whether youre driving a hybrid or a truck. What the brakes are doing is utterly different. What the gas pedal is doing is mindblowingly complicated. But the point is, that you dont care. That is the power of abstraction. All you need to know is that gas pedal = speed. You dont think about the fuel injectors injecting gas and air engine, or each individual molecule forming in contained explosions driving pistons which give the car your motion. You dont think about all of that, because if youexplosions driving pistons which give the car your motion....
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