Seminar by Robert Sheehan: An Historical Consideration of Introductory Programming Languages

DATE: 24th February 2020
TIME: 13:00-14:00
LOCATION: Sir Alwyn Williams Building, Seminar Room 422

Every Computer Science department or Engineering school has to decide what language should be taught to novice programmers. This decision can provoke considerable discussion and disagreement. Factors commonly mentioned in order to make this choice include ease of use, ease of access, associated tools, common usage in industry, syntactical elegance, and pedagogical factors amongst others. In this talk I will present the languages used in my department, the School of Computer Science at the University of Auckland, over the last 4 decades starting with a home grown language SMALL (Small Machine Algol Like Language) and ending up with Python. The syntax of the languages will be examined, partly from the perspective of Stefik and Hanenberg. Other languages designed for novices will also be discussed with an in depth look at Logo. We will hopefully finish with a discussion about whether any of this matters.

First published: 24 February 2020