Computational thinking in Egypt


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A proposal I wrote for "Lemasr", an organization for supporting development in Egypt. I thought the information contained within might be useful to more people.

Note: Pages 10-15 were taken from a presentation by Jeanette M. Wing, with permission. The original presentation is here:

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Computational thinking in Egypt

  1. 1. Computational thinkingand the future of science (and Egypt). Mohamed Samy Email:
  2. 2. The 21 century st The face of science is changing  Biology → Genetics  Chemistry → Nanotechnology  Physics → Quantum mechanics How about mathematics – a basis for all sciences?  Mathematics → Computer Science!
  3. 3. Computer Science? An important part of maths Formalized in the 1930s (before the electronic computer). Maybe better called Algorithmic science Existed without a name for thousands of years, ancient Greeks, Muslim mathematicians, Indians...etc have been working with algorithms. It is about formalizing thinking.
  4. 4. Algorithms An Algorithm is a solution for accomplishing a goal that can be executed mechanically: We use algorithms in all of life: ‫الخطط العسكرية‬ ‫خط النتاج في المصنع‬ ‫إعراب الجمل‬ ‫الجراءات الحكومية‬ ‫نظم إدارة الشركات‬
  5. 5. AlgorithmsAlgorithms (and computation) also exist in science: Bio-informatics Computational Physics Computational chemistry Computational botany Currently in progress: Computational law, social studies, history, economics, psychology...etc...etc. Algorithms are here scientific tools, not just computerized applications.
  6. 6. Algorithms exist everywhere... Children games. Primary School maths (e.g. multiplication/ division). Cooking/ recipes Social protocols. Art (e.g Islamic decorations).
  7. 7. What do we want?A: We have almost a century of CS research.B: CS/Algorithms is becoming part of science, business, art and life. If we put “A” and “B” together, we realize that we need to ask:  Why arent we using CS in all those activities?  Why dont (general) universities include computational aspects in their courses & research?  Why arent we teaching algorithmic/CS concepts in schools? This – in essence – is Computational thinking.
  8. 8. CT in Other Sciences, Math, and EngineeringBiology - Shotgun algorithm expedites sequencing of human genome - DNA sequences are strings in a language - Protein structures can be modeled as knots - Protein kinetics can be modeled as computational processes Credit: Wikipedia - Cells as a self-regulatory system are like electronic circuits Brain Science - Modeling the brain as a computer - Vision as a feedback loop - Analyzing fMRI data with machine learning Credit: LiveScienceCT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing
  9. 9. CT in Other Sciences, Math, and EngineeringChemistry [Madden, Fellow of Royal Society of Edinburgh] - Atomistic calculations are used to explore chemical phenomena - Optimization and searching algorithms identify best chemicals for improving reaction conditions to improve yields Credit: University of MinnesotaCredit: NASA Geology - Modeling the earth’s surface to the sun, from the inner core to the surface - Abstraction boundaries and hierarchies of complexity model the earth and our atmosphere CT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing
  10. 10. CT in Other Sciences, Math, and EngineeringAstronomy - Sloan Digital Sky Server brings a telescope to every child - KD-trees help astronomers analyze very large multi-dimensional datasets Credit: SDSS Mathematics - Discovering E8 Lie Group: 18 mathematicians, 4 years and 77 hours of supercomputer time (200 billion numbers). Profound implications for physics (string theory) - Four-color theorem proof Credit: Wikipedia Credit: WikipediaEngineering (electrical, civil, mechanical, aero & astro,…) - Calculating higher order terms implies more precision, which implies reducing weight, waste, costs in fabrication- Boeing 777 tested via computer simulation alone, not in a wind tunnel CT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing Credit: Boeing
  11. 11. CT for SocietyEconomics- Automated mechanism design underlies electronic commerce, e.g., ad placement, on-line auctions, kidney exchange- Internet marketplace requires revisiting Nash equilibria model Social Sciences - Social networks explain phenomena such as MySpace, YouTube - Statistical machine learning is used for recommendation and reputation services, e.g., Netflix, affinity cardCT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing
  12. 12. CT for SocietyMedicine - Robotic surgery - Electronic health records require privacy technologies - Scientific visualization enables virtual colonoscopy Credit: University of UtahLaw - Stanford CL approaches include AI, temporal logic, state machines, process algebras, petri nets - POIROT Project on fraud investigation is creating a detailed ontology of European law - Sherlock Project on crime scene investigation CT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing
  13. 13. CT for Society Entertainment - Games - Movies Credit: Dreamworks SKG - Dreamworks uses HP data center to renderShrek and Madagascar - Lucas Films uses 2000-node data center to produce Pirates of the Caribbean.Credit: Carnegie Mellon University Arts - Art (e.g., Robotticelli) - Drama - Music Credit: Wikipedia - Photography Sports - Lance Armstrong’s cycling computer tracks man and machine statisticsCT for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing - Synergy Sports analyzes Credit: Christian Moeller digital videos NBA games
  14. 14. Meanwhile, in the US & UK... In 2009 an event about computational thinking was sponsored by ACM, CRA, CSTA, IEEE, Microsoft, NCWIT, NSF, and SWE... CSEdWeek is sponsored by ABI, ACM, BHEF, CRA, CSTA, Dot Diva, Google, Globaloria, Intel, Microsoft, NCWIT, NSF, SAS, and Upsilon Pi Epsilon In 2010, the British Royal Society announced an 18- month project to look “at the way that computing is taught in schools, with support from 24 organizations from across the computing community including learned societies, professional bodies, universities, and industry” for Everyone Jeannette M. Wing
  15. 15. Comp. Thinking in EgyptBasic assumptions  CT is an ongoing research work, there is no “ready-made” CT plan that can be just applied.  Wed be joining an ongoing research effort alongside the rest of the world – lets be players, not spectators!  We cant just take the works of others and apply it; experience doesnt come for free.  But we need to start implementing what we can during all the research.
  16. 16. Comp. Thinking in EgyptBasic assumptions  While CT research is being done, we need to prepare society for it.  Not everyone understands the importance of Computational thinking.  A lot of people will confuse it with computer programming, or even operating computers.  ‫من بعد أمية الكمبيوتر؛ المية البرمجية‬  ...‫ومن بعدها المية الحوسبية‬  We need social outreach.
  17. 17. Comp. Thinking in EgyptBasic assumptions  CT has both research and educational aspects.  If we teach schoolchildren CS concepts first, we can use them to teach geometry, Arabic grammar, science...etc  Bonus: unify concepts; avoid repetition.  Teaching algebra in schools was “impossible” centuries ago.  But how do we do that?? Needs research & lots of experiments.  Existing research: Piaget, Constructionist learning, SIGCSE...  Existing efforts: CS Unplugged, Computational fairy tales...etc
  18. 18. Comp. Thinking in EgyptOur basic plan  3 Stages: − Research and outreach via the “CT/Egypt” Center. − Test implementation. − Adaptation at national level. Research & outreach Research Implementation Research Implementation Test impl. Research Implementation Adaptation Research Implementation “The future”
  19. 19. Research & Outreach Directions  Research education methods  Actual CT research in biology, linguistics,...etc  Outreach, outreach, outreach! Approach  Engage all society, create a “gravity field”.  Use all possible expertise, inside & outside Egypt.  Encourage team members & others to do Ph.D research in CT.  Take a scientific, deep approach as much as possible.
  20. 20. Research & Outreach Practical, not just theoretical!  Experiment on real children at schools, training centers.  Have reusable course materials, publish books, papers, attend conferences.  Talk with forward-thinking university professors about new CT courses in accounting, linguistics, medicine...etc  Have a commercial arm to create products (possibly license patents...) to further sustain development. We shall not wait for research to end before producing results.
  21. 21. Test implementation We need to experiment on having a full school curriculum based on CT concepts.  Either deal with a selection of the best schools in Egypt; or possibly create a specialized school “ ‫المدرسة‬ ‫ ”الفكرحوسبية‬to be a model for future schools. The same for Universities  Carnegie-Mellon is already “computationalizing” their business, social studies, art,...etc schools.  Learn from their models and others, apply our own experiments.
  22. 22. ‫‪Full adaptation‬‬ ‫المكونات المطلوبة:‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫مناهج قابلة للتطبيق.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫ادوات تعليمية حديثة من لغات برمجة، كتب، اختراعات.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫تجارب ناجحة على مدارس وجامعات متخصصة.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫تقبل للفكرة من المجتمع وتبني لها من المفكرين‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫والمؤسسات.‬‫قاعدة عريضة من الباحثين، المؤلفين، المعلمين قد ‪I J‬بت‬ ‫در‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫وتشبعت بالفكرة.‬ ‫الخطوات التالية:‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫تطبيق التفكير الحوسبي على مستوى مدارس مصر‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫وجامعاتها، نقل الخبرة للوطن العربي، المستقبل!‬
  23. 23. ‫المستقبل‬‫التفكير الحوسبي هو النهضة العلمية القادمة، بآثار تقابل‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫النهضة الوروبية.‬ ‫لدينا ثلث اختيارات:‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫التخلف عنها.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫السبق إليها.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫الوقوف على قدم المساواة فيها.‬ ‫‪‬‬ ‫ماذا يحدث لو "تحوسب" المجتمع؟‬ ‫‪‬‬
  24. 24. Assistance required Help acquiring funding. Media support (press, TV, conferences...) Expert support (university professors, educators) Later: expert support on how to approach “Egypt”, in the form of universities, companies, the public process...etc A partnership :)
  25. 25. CreditsSlides 10-15 Were taken (with permission) from a presentation: “Computational thinking for everyone”, by Prof. Jeanette M. Wing.The presentation can be found here: