From Computing to Ubiquitous Computing

In the beginning of computing, it is almost equal to calculating. The first “computers”
were people who would tediously compute sums by hand to fill in artillery tables. However, the human computing was definitely not able to fulfill the dramatically increasing need of calculation required by wars. So, computing evolved and real computer appeared. Mathematics, physics and chemistry set foundation for the development of computer and this foundation also suggests the interdisciplinary nature of computing and its future wide implementation. Nowadays, computing already becomes important and necessary not only in our work, but also in our life.

Bread, which is so different from computing, could be an example to illustrate the influence of computing in our work and life. Humans have been eating bread for thousands of years. This habit remains but the way of producing and eating bread have been changing a lot. In a modern bread factory, bread is made by machine. The operation of machine is regulated by program, which roots in the control systems. With this program, machine can operate itself automatically and precisely. As consumers, we also benefit from computing because the computing lower the cost and we can buy cheaper products. Also, we can use some applications to buy bread. It is no doubt that applications’ development is not separable from computing.

Human now lives in a society of ubiquitous computing. As illustrated in Wikipedia, ubiquitous computing is a concept in software engineering and computer science. In contrast to desktop computing, it can occur using any device, in any location, and in any format. Computing already surpasses the boundary of computers and penetrates into other products, including phone, television, car and refrigerator. It’s safe to say that all aspects in our life- eating, drinking, living and transporting- are closely related to computing. Even the unfamiliar phrases like data mining, machine learning and artificial intelligence are not so far from us: data mining can detect spam emails that we receive and machine learning can improve advertising.

Since it’s obvious that our life has deeply interconnected with computing and it seems that this trend will not stop in a short term, it’s better for us to know about computational thinking in order to fit ourselves in this computing society and find our position. Just as Jeannette M. Wing emphasizes in the Computational Thinking, “Computational thinking is a fundamental skill for everyone, not just for computer scientists.” Computational thinking doesn’t mean that we should think as a computer, which is impossible also unreasonable. It rather requires us stand in a higher position to evaluate and use computing: not only knowing the principles of computing, but also know how to imply these principles to continuously develop computing or use them as logic tool -a way of thinking- to solve problems and finish tasks. Not everyone is able to code or needs to code, but everyone has the ability to think computationally, an easy way to improve life quality and work efficiency.

 

Recitation:

Martin Campbell-Kelly, “Origin of Computing.” Scientific American 301, no. 3 (September 2009): 62–69.

Jeannette Wing, “Computational Thinking.” Communications of the ACM 49, no. 3 (March 2006): 33–35.

Peter J. Denning and Craig H. Martell. Great Principles of Computing. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 2015, chapters 4, 5, 6.