Lockdown Lectures: The Magic of Computer Science

This page supports “The Magic of Computer Science”, part of a series of Lockdown Lectures delivered via Zoom, free. Find linked resources such as pages dedicated to each trick here.


The Magic of Computer Science

To become a great computer scientist you need some of the same skills and understanding of great magicians. In this series of talks we will look at a series of links between magic and computing. There are many connections: to computational thinking, to core computer science topics and to human-computer interaction, for example. Magicians rely on people making mistakes. When people make mistakes using technology it is important to look at how to improve the system, rather than blaming the person, if disasters are not to repeat and lives are to be saved.


The Magic of Computer Science (Part I)

This lecture explores how magic is based on algorithms and so how it can be used to introduce basic ideas of computational thinking including algorithmic thinking, decomposition, evaluation and logical thinking.

This talk was given on Wednesday 17th June, 5-6.30pm, free on Zoom.

The Magic of Computer Science (Part II)

This develops the idea from the previous lecture further looking at how the same algorithms can be behind both a magic trick and a computer system. We look at fast searching and sorting, touching on binary representations, divide and conquer algorithms and parallelism.

This talk was given on Wednesday 1st July, 4.30-6.00pm, free on Zoom.

We have lots of resources around using magic in the classroom including:

powerofct-cover Textbook cover of Power of Computational Thinking Curzon and McOwanOur published book ‘The Power of Computational Thinking’ weaves magic, games and puzzles in to the story of Computational Thinking and Artificial Intelligence.

Download our free The Magic of Computer Science 3: magic meets mistakes, machines and medicine booklet, as well as our first two magic of computer science booklets.


How to use Zoom.
Our previous lectures and accompanying slides.


QMUL - Queen Mary University of London logo