Big Ideas in Computer Science

Understanding The Digitalized World
“Computer science is no more about computers than astronomy is about telescopes”
– Edsger W. Dijkstra.

Interaction with computers has become a big part of our daily life, but they do much more than help us with practicalities. They are tools for understanding the fundamentals of information, processes and human thinking. The insights they have brought us are some of the most important in human history, with far-reaching consequences for society.
Course levelAdvanced Bachelor, open to PhD staff and professionals
Recommended course combinationSession 1: Big Data in Society, Data Anlysis in R
Session 3: Big Data Management in Linux
Session 2
20 July to 3 August 2019
Co-ordinating lecturer    Dr. Ellen Maassen MSc
Other lecturersTo be announced
Form(s) of tuitionSeminars, reading, lectures, project work, group activities, writing
Form(s) of assessment    Homework exercises, essay
ECTS    3
Contact hours45
Tuition fee€1150
Any student or professional who feels that computing is so important in today’s world that they should know its basics and understand its implications for science and society. No programming or mathematical knowledge is assumed. It may also be informative for those with a programming background, but covers material they will already be familiar with. If you have doubts about your eligibility for the course, please let us know. Our courses are multi-disciplinary and therefore are open to students and professionals with a wide variety of backgrounds.

On this course you learn to look with the eyes of a computer scientist, to understand the potential and limitations of computing and to apply these insights to such topics as social networks, biological processes, language and consciousness.

Specific subjects we investigate are:
•    The science of algorithms, their power, universality and limits. This includes some programming, but for the most part you explore algorithmics away from the computer.
•    The science of data: encoding, compression and pattern recognition.
•    Taming complexity: dividing the problem, the search as a general heuristic and quantum computing.
•    Computing and philosophy: the ethics of big data and AI, free will and consciousness.
•    Have an informed discussion on ethical issues around big data and AI 

At the end of this course, you:    

  • Understand the possibilities – and limitations – of computing, and how they shape our world, our organizations and our thinking. 
  • Can apply computational thinking in a range of areas, even  ones apparently unrelated to computing.
  • Can interact knowledgeably with programmers and other IT specialists.
Visiting an event at the Waag Society (details determined when their summer programme is released)
None, but please bring your own laptop.
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