Friday, October 5, 2012

New Book: Computational Fairy Tales by Jeremy Kubica

Under the category of "Fairy Tales Are Used EVERYWHERE," I offer Computational Fairy Tales by Jeremy Kubica, exhibit 95,371. Yes, that is a random number I made up. Although I could make it accurate if I wanted to try that hard. And even the book description made clear to me that my computer science knowledge is woefully lacking. I probably need this book...

Book description:

Have you ever thought that computer science should include more dragons and wizards? Computational Fairy Tales introduces principles of computational thinking, illustrating high-level computer science concepts, the motivation behind them, and their application in a non-computer—fairy tale—domain. The goal of this book is not to provide comprehensive coverage of each topic, but rather to provide a high level overview of the breadth and excitement of computer science. It’s a quest that will take you from learning the basics of programming in a blacksmith’s forge to fighting curses with recursion. Fifteen seers delivered the same prophecy, without so much as a single minstrel to lighten the mood: an unknown darkness threatens the kingdom. Suddenly, Princess Ann finds herself sent forth alone to save the kingdom. Leaving behind her home, family, and pet turtle Fido, Princess Ann must face goblin attacks, magical curses, arrogant scholars, an unpleasant oracle, and rude Boolean waiters. Along the way she must build a war chest of computational knowledge to survive the coming challenge.

There is a fine review by Jenny Williams of the book online at GeekMom on Wired:

“Have you ever thought that computer science should include more dragons and wizards?” – Computational Fairy Tales

Whether our kids go into computer science as a career or not, learning the basics of programming is a good way for their brains to be trained in certain critical ways of thinking. But especially at an early age, keeping their interest and attention while they are learning is key.

A new book by author Jeremy Kubica, called Computational Fairy Tales, introduces dozens of aspects of computational design. Aimed at junior high and high school students, it gives an overview of these aspects, whetting the appetite to learn more. Using analogies from fairy tales, Mr. Kubica inspires readers to take in each concept and then extend their learning on their own. The book gives a starting point for kids to learn more about the parts that interest them.

The story is about Princess Ann, who goes on a solitary quest to rid her kingdom of “the darkness” that has befallen it. She soon learns that she can follow a quest algorithm to help her find her way. Ann is new to questing, and feels a bit in over her head. But along the way, she learns about computer science, which serves as the magic in her land. Some of the concepts she learns are:

•If else
•Binary numbers
•Boolean algebra
•Arrays, linked lists, and pointers
•Binary search trees
•Big O notation
•Insertion, bubble, and merge sort
•The traveling salesman problem
•Depth first search

There's more of the review, too. But I thought this part really helped explain the book so I had to share this much of it to encourage clicking through.

No comments:

Post a Comment