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Communications of the ACM

Turing lecture

Abstractions, Their Algorithms, and Their Compilers

gears on binary background

Computational thinking, which centers around devising abstractions for problems so they can be solved with computational steps and efficient algorithms, is a concept that serves not only computer science (CS) but progressively more of science and everyday life. After Jeannette Wing published her influential paper on computational thinking,50 the discussion of computational thinking has greatly expanded in scale to include topics such as modeling natural processes as information processing.18

At the heart of computational thinking is abstraction, the primary subject of this essay. While abstractions have always been an essential part of computer science, the modern emphasis on computational thinking highlights their importance when teaching CS to a broad audience.


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