CS-442: Topics in Computer Science: Great Insights in Computer Science

Rutgers University
Spring 2006
Michael L. Littman

Teaching assistants:
  • Grad: Monica Babes: Hill 410, email babes@cs.rutgers.edu. Office hours by appointment (for your convenience!).
  • Undergrad: Gabriel Nieves, email camilo@eden.rutgers.edu.
  • Michael's office hours are also by appointment, in Hill 409 or Hill 427 (Lab).

    NEW COURSE OFFERING: Learn about the science behind the computers!

    Time: TThu 2:50pm-4:10pm 5th Period
    Place: Hardenbergh Hall, Room B1
    Semester: Spring 2006

    AUDIENCE: Non-CS majors at all levels. Don't let the course number fool you---it's just a bookkeeping thing (we needed to use the "topics" course number temporarily). Note 1: CS majors (curriculum code 198) are not eligible for enrollment. Note 2: Because of the bookkeeping trick, a permission number is required to register for the course. Please contact the instructor (Michael Littman <mlittman@cs.rutgers.edu>).

    DESCRIPTION: The course is designed to introduce non-majors to the fundamental concepts of computer science. Students will be given the background to appreciate the exciting and influential ideas that have shaped this fast-moving discipline. Although it will provide a broad context, the course will focus on specific examples of great ideas and how they work. Students will learn about and solve example problems drawn from areas like: artificial intelligence (robotics), bioinformatics (DNA analysis), computer graphics (3d visualization), networking (high speed communication), and security (cryptography). General ideas will be described in concrete form to make them most easily grasped. The course will not teach or require programming skills and cannot be taken for credit for the CS major.

    FORMAT: Lectures, hands-on demonstrations, written homeworks, short online activities, written midterm and final.

    PRE-REQs: None. (Mastery of high-school-level algebra will be assumed.)

    CREDITS: 3

    Textbook: Pattern on the Stone, the simple ideas that make computers work. Basic Books, 1998.
    Lecture notes (as available, in pdf format)