Author(s) : Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman
Publication Date : 2005
Those are the opening words from Harold Abelson for the course of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs given in July 1986 for Hewlett-Packard employees. Converted in its entirety into Mpeg and DivX formats, these video lectures are also the first introduction given to the students of entry-level Computer Science subject at M.I.T.
These lectures are accompanied by the book of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, also written by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman. The authors use Lisp, but didn’t delve formally into the language. Lisp dialect and syntax is used to convey the real issues, that is about finding out what to compute, how to decompose, problems into manageable parts, and build solutions on each of the, parts. Each solutions is wrapped as a black box, and several of these black boxes can be used to build a bigger box. And this bigger box can be used to build an even bigger box, until we finish defining the whole problem and its solutions.
Even though the video lectures were shot in 1986, they will still be useful for students using the second edition (of the textbook), since the overall themes of the course and order of presentation are unchanged. They also still make a excellent introduction to the business of computer science. Actually, the word ‘still’ doesn’t serve it right, since I can’t see how the very essence of computer science being conveyed in these video lectures is going to get obsolete. No matter how much progress we made in the terms of hardware sophistication and software development tools proliferation, the basic of computer science is not going to change.
As an introduction, these video lectures are aimed for audience with little or no prior formal training in computation. Some background in mathematics is assumed.