The course will give you an opportunity to read and discuss some of the
most influential papers in computing science in the last 60 years. The
papers are chosen either because they were original papers that founded
new concepts in computing science which have proven to be of lasting
importance, or because they are prize lectures given by winners of the
Turing Award, the most prestigious award in our subject.
These readings will give you the opportunity to become intellectually
acquainted with some of the most brilliant computer scientists and give
you models of intellectual clarity and rigour.
In the first week I shall give a lecture on the history of computer
science in general and where the papers selected fit into that history.
The papers for each successive session of the course will be drawn from
the list on the left. Each week all students are to read the
paper for the week. If more than one paper is selected for the week,
then students will be told which one they are to read.
In each class two or more students will be asked to give short talks on
the papers. The students will be given one week's warning of who is to
give the talks the following week.
Each student who is not themself giving one of the talks will be given
a slip of paper at the start of the class. Either immediately, or
during the course of the talks, they must write down a question they
want to ask the presenters about the paper.
After the talks have been given, these slips will be handed to the
lecturer who will select students to ask questions. Submission of
questions will be used as evidence that you have attended, and the
pertinence of the questions will be used to judge your reading of the
Students presenting the papers will be judged on their presentation and
the confidence with which they handle questions.
Note that from the 25th march the 11am class will run longer to allow
more talks to be given.
You will be able to chose to write an essay on one of the following:
1. Is imperative programming doomed?
2. Could a machine think?
3. What is information?
Your essays should be based on reading done during the course plus
other information that you have on the topic.