Get ready for computational thinking

October 10, 2014 10:00 AM

Aidan Smith

Want to think like a computer scientist? Maybe you already do. Noted computer scientist Jeanette Wing will share her vision of the influence of computer science across academic disciplines with the Tulane University community on Monday (Oct. 13) at 3 p.m. in Freeman Auditorium at the Woldenberg Art Center on the uptown campus.

Computer scientist Jeanette Wing

Computer scientist Jeanette Wing from Microsoft Research, an advocate for computational thinking, will give the Daspit Lecture at Tulane on Monday (Oct. 13). (Photo provided by Jeanette Wing)

Wing, corporate vice president for Microsoft Research with oversight of its core research laboratories around the world, is well known within the computer science community for her advocacy of “computational thinking,” an approach to problem solving, designing systems and understanding human behavior that draws upon concepts fundamental to computer science.

She sees it as a “universally applicable attitude and skill set that everyone, not just computer scientists, should be eager to learn and use.”

Thinking like a computer scientist means more than being able to program a computer, she says — it requires the ability to think at multiple levels of abstraction.

Wing believes that computational thinking is a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world, not just researchers and other scholars.

“To reading, writing and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability,” she said.

In her Tulane talk, Wing will give examples of computational thinking, discuss how it has influenced other disciplines, and promote the idea that teaching computational thinking will not only inspire future generations to enter the field of computer science but benefit people in all fields.

Wing joined Microsoft in 2013 from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was the President’s Professor of Computer Science and twice served as the head of Carnegie Mellon’s Computer Science Department.

Wing’s visit to Tulane is sponsored by the Dorothy K. Daspit Lecture Series that honors the accomplishments of female scholars in the sciences. Daspit was a 1928 graduate of Newcomb College, and the series was established by her nephew, Frank A. Daspit, a 1958 Tulane alumnus, and niece, Caroline Daspit, a 1969 Newcomb alumna.

Aidan Smith is external affairs officer for the Newcomb College Institute.

Tulane University, New Orleans, LA 70118 504-865-5000 website@tulane.edu