Our seminar series is free and available for anyone to attend. Unless otherwise stated, seminars take place on Wednesday afternoons at 2pm in the Kilburn Building during teaching season.

If you wish to propose a seminar speaker please contact Antoniu Pop.


Touch of Class: Teaching introductory programming to the Flickr generation

  • Speaker:   Professor  Bertrand Meyer  (ETH, Zurich)
  • Host:   Andrei Voronkov
  • 31st October 2007 at 14:15 in Lecture Theatre 1.3, Kilburn Building
In any discipline the test of advanced ideas is often how well they can be taught to newcomers. The challenge is particularly interesting in programming, where the traditional "CS 1" course must convey the fundamentals of programming to an increasingly diverse audience (often including, along with novices, experts in various computing and Web technologies), satisfy increasing constraints, and take account of increasingly important external phenomena such as the rise of software outsourcing.

The introductory programming course devised at ETH and taught regularly for the past five years combines a number of concepts and techniques to deliver a modern solution meeting this challenge. It relies on object technology and specifically design by contract right from the start; it lets students deal with large software, not just small examples; it doesn't just preach abstraction as a desirable technique but integrates it as an indispensable survival technique; it strikes a careful balance between the "angel" and "beast" sides of software engineering (mathematics and hacking).

The talk analyzes the basic issues facing introductory programming education in an ambitious computer science department, presents the pedagogical concepts behind our course (whose associated "Touch of Class" textbook is temporarily available on the Web:, and draws lessons from our first years of experience.
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