Biographies in Creation & Innovation

Spring 2005: Monday and Wednesday 2:00-3:15 PM

Brian M. O'Connell, Maria Sanford Room 205

LAST UPDATE: 05/04/05

Course Description:
Computer Science is frequently presented as a set of theories and practices without much attention

to their creators and development. This course will focus on a series of paradigmatic events and

individuals within computing, analyzing the dynamics of the advances and their implications for

computing and society as a whole.


Although we will be approaching these issues through an interdisciplinary perspective, students are

reminded that this is a computer science course. Basic knowledge of computational theory, architecture

operating systems and programming will be expected. Students who are not computer science majors

should request additional assistance in these areas when needed.


The course will be conducted as a seminar at the graduate level. Students are expected to read every

assignment and to be prepared for discussion. Attendance at each class is presumed. Three or more

unexcused absences will result in the loss of the class participation score.


Our topics and schedule may be changed with the availability of guest speakers and the interests of

the class. Please check the online syllabus for updates and revisions.



Class Handouts

Online Materials located at this site

Reserve Materials


Class Policies:

Attendance is presumed. Three or more unexecused absences will result in loss of class participation score.

All materials submitted must be in typed, analog form and stapled. No email assignments accepted.

Students must maintain backup copies of all course work for the semester.



60%  Topic Assignments

20%  Final Project, including preparation assignments

20%  Class Participation


Evaluation Criteria:

40%  Use of Course Material

40%  Comprehensiveness & Clarity

20%  Creativity & Originality





René Descartes

No Class: 2/16 and 2/21 (Presidents' Day)




Course Overview 

Descartes' 'Dualism'

The Legacy of Descartes




Descartes: Meditation II

Descartes: Meditation VI

Scheutz: The Cognitive-Computational Story (pdf file)




Early Computing

York University: Classics in the History of Psychology




A.M. Turing

No Class: 3/9 & Spring Break



The Turing Machine

Computation Theory & Computability



Hodges: Short Biography of Alan Turing

Stanford Encyclopedia: The Church-Turing Thesis

Turing: Computing Machinery and Intelligence [pdf]



Regarding Turing and Mathematics:

Chaitin, A Century of Controversy over the Foundations of Math

Regarding Searle's Chinese Room:

Searle: Minds, Brains, and Programs

Hauser: Searle's Chinese Box


Early Computing




Minsky et al. v. Brooks et al.

No Class: 3/18



Defining and Re-defining A.I. Robotics

Determinative Factors: Theory v. Practice



McCarthy: What is A.I.?

Minsky: Why People Think Computers Can't

Brooks:Intelligence without Representation





These are selected books, articles & Web sites  referred to in class lectures. They may be helpful to your papers
and presentations. They will be updated throughout the course.


LINK AAAI: A.I. Topics Index

LINK Hubert Dreyfus' Web Site

LINK John McCarthy's Web Site

LINK Rod Brook's Web Site


Early Computing History
Davis, Martin.  The Universal Computer, New York: Norton (2000)

LINK Rene Descartes 1596 - 1650
LINK Blaise Pascal 1623 - 1662
LINK Gottfried Wilhelm von Leibniz 1646 - 1716
          LINK Sophie, Duchess of Brunswick 1630 - 1714
LINK Joseph-Marie Jacquard 1752-1834

Babbage & Ada: Countess of Lovelace
LINK Charles Babbage Biography
LINK The Analytical Engine Page - Fourmilab
LINK Ada Byron King, Countess of Lovelace - TAP: The Ada Project
LINK Selection and Adaptation From Ada's Notes - Betty Alexandra Toole

Logicians & Inventors
LINK George Boole 1815 - 1864
LINK Herman Hollerith 1860 - 1929
LINK Kurt Godel 1906 - 1978

Turing: modern era
LINK Alan Turing Home Page
LINK Turing Machine in Java

The Internet
LINK J.C.R. Licklider
LINK ISOC: Internet History Links


Modern Computer History
Glass, Robert. In the Beginning: Recollections of Software Pioneers. IEEE Computer Society (1998).
Shasha, Dennis & Lazere, Cathy. Out of Their Minds: The Lives of 15 Great Computer Scientists. Copernicus Press (1995).

profiles: early modern era
LINK Vannevar Bush: Memex and Beyond Web Site
LINK Alan Turing: The Turing Project


profiles: contemporaries
LINK Stephen Cook: Web Page
LINK W. Daniel Hillis: Edge Biography
LINK Alan Kay Biographical Information
LINK Donald Knuth: Home Page
LINK Burton Smith: From Here to Petaflops
LINK Robert Tarjan: Home Page

general sites
LINK The Computer History Museum
LINK IEEE Annals of the History of Computing
LINK Past Notable Women in Computing and Mathematics

LINK Software History Center


Space Exploration & Computing
LINK CMU Field Robotics Lab

LINK JPL Robotics Lab
LINK Open University: Robot Space Explorers


Links Last Modified 01.22.05