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Part One: The Essential Character of Computer Science1 The Essential Character of Computer Science
Pages 9-24

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From page 9...
... Part One The Essential Character of Computer Science
From page 11...
... But computers proved so powerful and absorbing, so interesting and open-ended, and so uniquely challenging that many of these people realized, a decade or so later, that they had in fact left their original disciplines and were pioneering a new field. Computer science embraces questions ranging from the properties of electronic devices to the character of human understanding, from individual designed components to globally distributed systems, and from the purely theoretical to the highly pragmatic.
From page 12...
... These include: · The Universal Turing Machine and the Church-Turing thesis, which provide a theoretical underpinning for understanding computing (see Kleinberg and Papadimitriou in Chapter 2) ; · Computer programs that achieve, exceed, or augment human performance levels in challenging intellectual tasks (see Koller and Bierman and also Mitchell in Chapter 6)
From page 13...
... Even more computers lurk hidden inside handheld cell phones, personal digital assistants, and automobiles; for example, a typical midmarket automobile contains a network and dozens of processors. As the size and cost of computer hardware shrink, computers will continue to proliferate even more widely (see Hill in Chapter 2)
From page 14...
... Computer applications are largely limited only by human imagination, although there are fundamental limits on what is computable and there are significant engineering challenges in building complex systems. This volume explores computer science research, emphasizing how research leads both to deeper understanding of computation and to numerous practical applications.
From page 15...
... · Computer science research creates artificial constructs, notably unlimited by physical laws. · Computer science research exploits and addresses exponential growth.
From page 16...
... A digital image of any one of Van Gogh's paintings of sunflowers (call it Sunflowers, for short) divides the continuous painted canvas into many small rectangular regions called pixels and gives the (approximate)
From page 17...
... , in which each row contains the bits representing an image, another bit sequence representing the name of the painting, a third bit sequence representing the name of the artist, and so on. At the lowest level, there are operations that manipulate the individual entries in each row; for example, the image bit string could be converted to a black and white image by manipulating the color information.
From page 18...
... The power of a good abstraction is illustrated by the fact that the Internet's basic protocols have reliably carried traffic on the network since its creation, even as this traffic has changed enormously not just in scale but also in behavior, from e-mail to streaming media and peer-to-peer file sharing networks.
From page 19...
... Computer Science Research Creates Artificial Constructs, Notably Unlimited by Physical Laws Animated sunflowers blowing in the breeze are an example of how the computational world can mimic, at an extremely accurate level, the
From page 20...
... The popular form of Moore's law states that as a result of increasing transistor density and other technological progress, such as the density of magnetic disk drives, the performance of a comparable-cost computer doubles roughly every 11/2 to 2 years or, alternatively, that the cost for the same performance halves. This combination of extremely rapid exponential growth and the ability to exploit the improvements in many different combinations of cost and performance is unprecedented in the history of technology.
From page 21...
... show how we are coping with the ever-growing Internet. Computer Science Research Seeks the Fundamental Limits on What Can Be Computed In addition to developing knowledge that supports practical engineering applications, computer science investigates fundamental limits regarding computation.
From page 22...
... The goal is for the salesman (who, following our earlier example, is selling sunflower oil) to visit each city once and return to the starting city, but minimize the total distance traveled.
From page 23...
... A human can easily pick out the presence of a sunflower in an image, and yet a computer of the early 21st century can do so only with difficulty and limited accuracy. The problems of image understanding, language understanding, locomotion, game playing, and problem solving each provide enormous challenges for the computer scientist.


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