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Computer Science Teaching Handbook

Last updated November 10, 2008 Computer Laboratory University of Cambridge Copyright c 2008 University of Cambridge

Preface
The purpose of this handbook is to provide an overview of the Computer Laboratory’s teaching, in all its aspects. It aims not to be comprehensive but to provide links to the many other Laboratory documents: for example, on the Examination structure or the procedures for Part II supervisions. The handbook is intended for all staff whose work relates to teaching. Compared with many other subjects, Computer Science is not straightforward to teach. There are huge differences among our incoming students in their programming skills. Moreover, the body of knowledge is constantly changing. Computer power has increased thousand-fold over the past 25 years, and countless new techniques and application areas have developed in that time. Much of what was known 25 years ago remains relevant today and will continue to be valuable for understanding techniques yet to be invented. Much else has become obsolete (such as algorithms for sorting on magnetic tape), and many other things have arrived with great fanfare and then faded away. To cope with the pace of change, we review our teaching annually, identifying which new topics must be added to the curriculum and which old ones must go to make way for them. Somehow we have to determine whether a new idea will prove be of lasting value or is just a fad. The key idea behind our teaching is that we are educating the people who will create the future. We provide an education in Computer Science that will retain its value throughout a graduate’s career, in the presence of technological change. We emphasize the principles which underlie the construction and the analysis of computing systems. We strike a balance between theory and applications, and we include in our curriculum appropriate elements of recent research. We expect our graduates to play leading roles in...

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