CSCE 190: Computing in the Modern World (Fall 2014)

Bulletin Description: An introduction to the field of computing; trends in computing technology, the profession, and careers; subdisciplines in computing; the nature of research and development.

Corequisites: CSCE 145, 204, 205, 206, or equivalent

Meeting time and venue: Tuesday 1800-1850 in Amoco Hall (1C01)

Instructor: Marco Valtorta
Office: Swearingen 3A55, 777-4641
Office Hours: MWF 11-noon, or by previous appointment.


Grading Policy

Reference Materials:

Current Departmental Syllabus


This course is intended to provide you with the bigger picture of how computing fits into the modern world and why there is more to "computing" than just "programming." Unlike nearly everything else taught in the department, this will not be a highly technical course. We encourage you to participate in the discussions and ask questions. The course will involve several other faculty members at the department and external professionals working in the fields of computer science, computer engineering, and computer information systems.



  1. Link to the Google CS First Program, with information used in Taylor Green's presentation and Q&A session of 2014-08-26.
  2. Computing Curricula at USC; slide 15 used on 2014-08-26.
  3. The Value of Experiential Learning, slides used by Ms. Jennifer Whetstone-Jackson of the USC Career Center (CEC Satellite Office) on 2014-09-02.
  4. Computer Science Career Prospects, poster used by Prof. Manton Matthews on 2014-09-02.
  5. Computing from an Electric and Gas Utility Perspective, presentation used by Mr. Chris Pierson of SCANA Corp. on 2014-09-09.
  6. Unsafe for any Ballot Count: South Carolina's voting machines and their analysis, slides used by Prof. Duncan Buell on 2014-09-16.
  7. Life as a Web Developer, slides used by Mr. Richard Baldwin of on 14-09-23.
  8. High Perfomance Computing and Research Infrastructure at the University of South Carolina, slides used by Mr. Paul Sagona and Mr. Ben Tarkien of the University of South Carolina on 14-09-30.
  9. Computing Careers in the real world, or, "I have my degree, now what?", slides used by Dr. Jerrold Heyman of EMC on 14-10-14.
  10. Robotics: Enabling Autonomy in Challenging Environments, slides used by Dr. Ioannis Rekleitis on 14-10-21.
  11. SRNL Scientific Computing---Where Have We Been and Where We Are Going!" Slides used by Dr. Mary K. Harris, Chief Information Office or Savannah River National Laboratory on 2014-11-11.
  12. Programming Language Paradigms, slides used on 14-11-25.
  13. Professor Judea Pearl, 2011 ACM A.M.Turing Award Winner, slides used on 14-12-02.

Homework and Projects

Points per assignment.
  1. (HW1, due Tuesday, September 2, 2014) Write an essay about definitions of Computer Science. Search for several of them. Choose at least three of them. Write a 3-page essay, double-spaced, in 12-point font, in which you describe the definitions you chose, compare them, and conclude with an argument for one of the three definitions and, if you like, your own improvements to that definition. References must be listed after the conclusion and cited in the main text. Quote appropriately. Do not plagiarize!
  2. (HW2, due Tuesday, September 23, 2014) Choose a company where you would like to apply for a position. Write:
    1. A one-page overview of the company
    2. A one-page overview of the position that you would apply for
    3. A one-page resume geared towards that position
    4. A half-page essay on what you need to learn or do to be competitive for the position
    5. Attend the SET Career Fair on Tuesday, September 16, and write a half-page essay describing your experience
    6. Register on Jobmate at the USC Career Center. Write a statement that you registered on the first page of your homework submission document.
    In total, your document should be four pages long.

Lecture Log

The USC Blackboard has a site for this course.

Some Useful Links

  1. In this class, we write dates according to ISO Standard 8601.
  2. Society of Women Engineers at USC Website
  3. John Backus's Obituary from the New York Times, 2007-03-20.
  4. An Interview with Maurice Wilkes, by David P. Anderson. Communications of the ACM, 52, 9 (September 2009), local copy. Maurice Wilkes, the designer and builder of the early stored-program computer EDSAC, passed away on Nov. 29, 2010, at age 97.
  5. Obituary of Ken Olsen, founder of Digital Equipment Corporation, from the New York Times (February 7, 2011) (local copy)).
  6. John McCarthy's Obituary from the _New York Times_, 2011-10-25 (local copy).
  7. Dennis Ritchie's Obituary from the _New York Times_, 2011-10-13 (local copy).
  8. ACM Citation Style and Reference Format.
  9. IEEE Citation Style Guide
  10. Another IEEE Citation Style Guide
  11. Alan Turing's ``Computing Machinery and Intelligence,'' Mind, 49 (1950), pp.433-460 , in HTML format.
  12. A panel discussion about Artificial Intelligence, from the Charlie Rose show
  13. Amnon H. Eden. "Three Paradigms of Computer Science." Minds and Machines Special issue on the Philosophy of Computer Science, Vol. 17, No. 2 (Jul. 2007), pp. 135-167. London: Springer. DOI 10.1007/s11023-007-9060-8. ( Local copy)
  14. Career-related links
    1. Career Center at CEC
    2. SET Career Fair, including a list of employees.
    3. Career Center at USC (main site)
    4. ACM Career and Job Center
    5. ACM CareerNews
    6. ACM Computing Degrees and Careers Guide
  15. The Gamecock Toastmasters Club web site. The club mission is to help students and other members of the USC community develop communication skills.
  16. The IT-oLogy web site.
  17. What is the Internet? A funny video from a 1994 NBC Today Show Episode.
  18. Research Methodology Links
    1. Thomas Dietterich. "Editorial: Exploratory Research in Machine Learning." Machine Learning 5, 5-9, 1990 (local copy).
    2. Thomas G. Dietterich, Pedro Domingos, Lise Getoor, Stephen Muggleton, and Prasad Talelpalli. "Structured Machine Learning: the Next ten Years." Marchine Learning 73, 3-23, 2008 (local copy).
    3. Stephen Muggleton, Luc De Raedt, David Poole, Ivan Bratko, Peter Flach, Katsumi Inoue, and Ashwin Srinivasan. "ILP Turns 20: Biography and Future Challenges." Machine Learning 86, 3-23, 2012 (local copy).