How to Design Programs

An Introduction to Programming and Computing

Matthias Fellesien, Robert Bruce Findler, Matthew Flatt, Shriram Krishnamurthi

How to Design Programs

This book is the first book on programming as the core subject of a liberal arts education. Its main focus is the design process that leads from problem statements to well-organized solutions; it deemphasizes the study of programming language details, algorithmic minutiae, and specific application domains. Our desire to focus on the design process requires two radical innovations for introductory courses. The first innovation is a set of explicit design guidelines. Existing curricula tend to provide vague and ill-defined suggestions, such as ``design from top to bottom'' or ``make the program structural.'' We have instead developed design guidelines that lead students from a problem statement to a computational solution in step-by-step fashion with well-defined intermediate products. In the process they learn to read, to analyze, to organize, to experiment, to think in a systematic manner. The second innovation is a radically new programming environment. In the past, texts on programming ignored the role of the programming environment in the learning process; they simply assumed that students had access to a professional environment. This book provides a programming environment for beginners. It also grows with the students as they master more and more of the material until it supports a full-fledged language for the whole spectrum of programming tasks: large-scale programming as well as scripting.

Submitted by okal on Feb. 14, 2012, 2:48 a.m.
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