Computers have been an interest of mine for a very long time. I was much
impressed by the “electronic brains” that predicted election winners and matched
couples on TV in
the ’50s. And I remember my uncle’s showing me a large IBM computer
installation, probably sometime in the late ’50s. He had been repairing radios
and TVs when he got the opportunity to work for IBM, servicing the latest
In high school, I built computer circuits. Unfortunately, this was before the
microprocessors that made personal computers possible were available. Having no
hope of being able to buy and assemble enough circuitry to do anything truly
useful, I contented myself with packaging discrete-component flip-flops in
clever and convenient packages. Steve Jobs’ life had better timing, and,
sadly, I have avoided becoming a billionaire.
Nonetheless, I have had a varied and interesting career as a computer scientist and computer
educator, as may be gleaned from my list of publications.
I have also been using personal computers since before the first IBM PC hit the
market, and it is difficult for me to imagine living without a computer. I have
come a long way from dreaming of one day owning a 110-baud Teletype terminal of
my very own to access a time-shared mainframe.
When I first designed this Web site, I expected that this section would be
populated largely by new computer-related essays, mostly providing advice for
living happily with your personal computer. What you will find below, however, are mostly papers and
essays—sometimes revised—from years ago. Some items are, I
hope, of enduring interest; some are—for one reason or another—important to
me; and others have found their way here though happenstance. No one should draw
any conclusion from what is or is not here.
My recent “computer-related essays” mostly describe personal experiences
(many misadventures, actually), offering “expert advice” only by
indirection. (You can find some these under Commentary
and in my Web log.)
I do have some other projects in various states of completion, however, and
advice on using your PC and even some work on algorithms may be posted here
— LED, 3/26/2008
Conversion of Number Representations—Why do we use one method rather than another to convert
number representations from one base to another (i.e., from binary to decimal)? Why do we tend to use one method to convert from decimal to binary and
another method to convert from binary to decimal?
The material here is adopted from a 1975 handout.
Requirements for Student Programs in the Undergraduate Computer Science
Curriculum: How Much Is Enough?—This is another 1979 paper, wherein Mark Pozefsky
and I argue that
high standards should be imposed on undergraduate student programs in
computer science departments.
Implementation of Programming Standards in a
Computer Science Department—This 1979 paper was written with Mark
Pozefsky and addresses the problem of creating uniform expectations for
programs throughout the computer science curriculum.
CMS at North Carolina State University: Tailoring a Time Sharing System for Computer Science Instruction—This
paper from 1982 treats a computing environment that will be incomprehensible to
some, yet it describes characteristics of a system for administering programming
classes that still are relevant today.
Effective Strategies for Taking the Advanced
Placement Computer Science Test—This 1986 article
drew on my experience as a grader for the APCS test.
Reading Computer Programs: Instructor's Guide and Exercises—This
from the Software Engineering Institute (SEI), written with J. Fernando Naveda, discusses the uses of program
reading and how program reading can be employed in computer science education.
Scenes of Software
Inspections: Video Dramatizations for the Classroom—This is a 1991 report
from the SEI. It discusses software inspections and
acts as a guide to dramatizations of software inspections available from the SEI
on videotape. The video, alas, is not available here.
Unit Analysis and Testing—This
is an SEI “Curriculum Module” on unit testing of software and
related topics, written with Larry J. Morell.