White House announces boost to computer science education

The White House announced on Monday new initiatives to bolster computer science in K–12 education.

Citing the rapidly expanding demand for technology jobs, the Obama administration outlined new efforts by two federal agencies: The National Science Foundation plans to spend $20 million on computer science education in 2017, on top the the $25 million it spent in 2016, with an emphasis on training teachers.

And the National Science and Technology Council will create a framework to help guide federal efforts “to support the integration of computer science and computational thinking into K–12 education,” according to Monday’s release.

The two agencies’ efforts, it said, will complement the Obama administration’s wider efforts to expand science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) in education.

The White House announcement comes in conjunction with new commitments to computer science education by 250 organizations, including Bootstrap, STEMteachersNYC and the American Association of Physics Teachers.

Other announcements include Google’s new computer science career prep program for college students and the University of North Texas’s partnership with the Perkins School for the Blind and the California School for the Blind.

Computer science is playing an increasingly large role in STEM — nearly two-thirds of all STEM jobs require computing skills. Despite the large need and an overwhelming desire by parents for their children to learn computer science, only about 40 percent of schools offer classes on the subject.

Source: White House announces boost to computer science education | TheHill

A short history of mathematical pedagogy; what does the future hold?

1. Teaching Maths In 1950s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price. What is his profit?

2. Teaching Maths In 1970s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is 4/5 of the price, or $80. What is his profit?

3. Teaching Maths In 1980s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80. Did he make a profit ? Yes or No

4. Teaching Maths In 1990s

A logger sells a truckload of lumber for $100. His cost of production is $80 and his profit is $20. Your assignment: Underline the number 20.

5. Teaching Maths In 2000s

A logger cuts down a beautiful forest because he is selfish and inconsiderate and cares nothing for the habitat of animals or the preservation of our woodlands. He does this so he can make a profit of $20. What do you think of this way of making a living?

Topic for class participation after answering the question: How did the birds and squirrels feel as the logger cut down their homes? (There are no wrong answers, feel free to express your feelings e.g, anger, anxiety, inadequacy, helplessness etc.)

Should you require debriefing at conclusion of exam there are counsellors available to assist you to adjust back into the real world.

Palindromes Week – take COMP 454 in the Fall 2015 and learn everything!

A palindrome is a word or expression that reads the same forward as backward; a famous palindrome is “madam i m adam”, from James Joyce’s Ulysses. Another one is the word “racecar”. Yet another very famous one is in the title of NOVA’s “A Man, a Plan, a Canal – Panama!”. They are interested for computer scientists as they are strings with many properties (my book “An Introduction to the Analysis of Algorithms” has a section on algorithms for palindromes). But they are much more than games; nature uses them, and for example many DNA strands in our genetic code are palindromic.

In the Fall 2015 I will be teaching a course, COMP 454, that will be using palindromes as an example of many computational properties.


COMP 554 – Algorithms

In the Spring 2015 I will teach a graduate course in Algorithms. This course is an introduction to the art of algorithm analysis, intended for both Computer Science and Mathematics students. It will cover the main families of algorithms: Greedy, Dynamic Programming, Divide and Conquer, Online, and Randomized. The course will present all the necessary background, and it is intended to be a fun introduction to the fundamentals of this beautiful field. For more details see:


DES password challenge in COMP424

The password challenge in COMP/IT 424, the “Security” course that I am currently teaching at Channel Islands, was to find the crypt() password corresponding to the hash:


The winner of the challenge was Jesse Thomas, here is the password:


and here is Jesse’s approach in his own words:

I decided to try ocl hashcat to crack the password. Since we were told that the password would be entropic, I figured we'd have to try a brute force attack. At first I was attempting to use all 94 potential characters but after seeing that it was estimated to take around 10 years to search through them all for a password length of 8 characters, I chose to search for only passwords matching lowercase characters and digits (like the previous challenge shown in class). The attempt took 4 hours and 48 minutes to complete, using a single nVidia GeForce GTX 560 Ti, which ran at a speed of 19739 kH/s (hash calculations/sec). At the time the password was cracked, hashCat had checked 341256962048 of 2821109907456 (32^8) potential combinations, so the password was found relatively early in the search algorithm (about 12% exhausted).

I used this command (in Windows, where I had a stronger video card):

cudaHashcat64.ex -m 1500 -a 3 -o cracked.txt "3zLNGMUzkNwak" -1 ?l?d ?1?1?1?1?1?1?1?1

-m specifies the hash type. 1500 is for descrypt/DES.
-a 3 specifies a brute force attack
 "-1 ?l?d" specifies a custom mask with the characteristic of being lowercase and digits only
"?1?1?1?1?1?1?1?1" specifies that there will be 8 characters in the password. Tried after it failed to find anything for length <= 7


CS50 Logs Record-Breaking Enrollment Numbers

Nearly 12 percent of Harvard College is enrolled in a single course, according to data released by the Faculty of Arts and Sciences Registrar’s Office on Wednesday.The course, Computer Science 50: “Introduction to Computer Science I,” attracted a record-breaking 818 undergraduates this semester, marking the largest number in the course’s 30-year history and the largest class offered at the College in the last five years, according to the Registrar’s website. Including non-College students, the enrollment number totals 875.

via CS50 Logs Record-Breaking Enrollment Numbers | News | The Harvard Crimson.

If you want to be rich and powerful, majoring in STEM is a good place to start

The standard narrative today is that science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) education is important because we need more data scientists, engineers, and STEM professionals. But promoting STEM education is critical for another reason: it teaches creative problem solving, which is widely applicable and more necessary than ever today. STEM education is linked to success not only in STEM fields, but in many other disciplines and even among many of the world’s most wealthy and powerful people.

At the heart of mathematics is pattern recognition and the joy of numerical play. What psychologists might call fluid reasoning, or mental power, is what you use when you’re struggling with a problem and don’t know what to do. This includes pattern recognition, abstract reasoning, and problem solving, and can be considered the engine powering numeracy. It is fundamental to so much of human and technological progress, as Erik Brynjolfsson and Andrew McAfee noted in The Second Machine Age. Math education, then, is really about training people to think creatively within a logical space and to solve problems.

via If you want to be rich and powerful, majoring in STEM is a good place to start – Quartz.

Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding

Since December, 20,000 teachers from kindergarten through 12th grade have introduced coding lessons, according to Code.org, a group backed by the tech industry that offers free curriculums. In addition, some 30 school districts, including New York City and Chicago, have agreed to add coding classes in the fall, mainly in high schools but in lower grades, too. And policy makers in nine states have begun awarding the same credits for computer science classes that they do for basic math and science courses, rather than treating them as electives.

via Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, and Lately, Coding – NYTimes.com.

Tech leaders want more computer education in California schools

Leaders of key technology companies including Microsoft, Google, Twitter and Salesforce.com have written to the Governor of California Jerry Brown offering to partner with the state to increase computer education in kindergarten to 12th grade schools.

90 percent of these K-12 schools do not currently teach computer science. On the other hand, there is a mismatch between the number of computer science jobs and graduates in the state, according to the letter which is signed by business executives as well as organizations active in the area of education.

via Tech leaders want more computer education in California schools | PCWorld.

Lawmakers call for more computer science in California schools

Half a dozen bills before the state Legislature address the growing concern that California students don’t have the computer science skills necessary to thrive in the modern workforce.Educators and tech industry leaders would like high schools to teach students more than just how to use a computer – the goal now is for students to be able to program one. Computer science shouldn’t be a niche field for the highly educated any longer, advocates say.

via Lawmakers call for more computer science in California schools | EdSource Today.