Algorithmic thinking is a way of getting to a solution through the clear definition of the steps needed – nothing happens by magic. Rather than coming up with a single answer to a problem, like 42, pupils develop algorithms. They are instructions or rules that if followed precisely (whether by a person or a computer) leads to answers to both the original and similar problems.
For example, we all learn algorithms for doing multiplication at school. If we (or a computer) follow the rules we were taught precisely we can get the answer to any multiplication problem. Once we have the algorithm we don’t have to work out how to do multiplication from scratch every time we are faced with a new problem.
The power of algorithmic thinking is that it allows solutions to be automated.
The following links to cs4fn articles that illustrate algorithmic thinking.
- Like a computer, our brain uses ‘rules’ to help us understand the world.Computers follow rules – so do our brains [cs4fn-pdf]
- A good magic trick is a combination of method and presentation, in some ways like a computer programMathemagic [cs4fn-pdf]
- A computer can beat the world champion at chess, even fly a plane more skilfully than a human. How do they do it?How do computers become so clever? [cs4fn-pdf]
- A perfect, working mind is locked inside a useless body: the sufferer can sense everything around but is unable to communicate with anyone.Locked-In syndrome [cs4fn-pdf]
- Spend as little time as possible travelling and leaving more for watching whalesWatching whales well [cs4fn-pdf]
- Daisies usually have 34, 55 or 89 petals – all Fibonacci numbersShe Loves Me… She Loves Me Not [cs4fn-pdf]
- Looking at a picture from your digital camera or a digital movie, it’s all just 11001100011– hardly inspiring, and I don’t really see what it means!Picture This? JPEG It! [cs4fn-pdf]
- It turns out though that some missions really are impossible for computers and even Tom Cruise wouldn’t be able to make a difference even if he was given unlimited time.Mission:Impossible [cs4fn-pdf]
- Programming is a core activity of computer science.Programming FUNdamentals [cs4fn-link]
- Want to write your first program? If so here is the place to start.Noughts and Crosses [cs4fn-link]
- Computer programs look just like a series of rules to control the way cash is moved around.Who wants to be the weakest millionaire? [cs4fn-pdf]
- How might you go about designing computer judges?Strictly X-Factor [cs4fn-pdf]
- To be a good computer scientist you have to enjoy problem solving. That is what it’s all about: working out the best way to do things.Kakuro, Sudoku and Computer Science [cs4fn-pdf]
- How is a computer program like a recipe? Paul Curzon explains, and as a bonus, tells you how to cook a quick pasta dish.A recipe for programming [cs4fn-pdf]
- The code hidden in knitting, and what might happen when computers learn to read it.Knitters and coders: separated at birth? [cs4fn-pdf]
- If humans are ever to get to like and live with robots we need to understand each other.How to get a head in robotics? [cs4fn-pdf]
The emotion machine [cs4fn-pdf]
- Magicians want to move cards around efficiently; computers want to move data around in their memory efficiently.Magical Memories just shuffling along 12 [cs4fn-pdf]
- How could a computer learn to read human emotions out of words?Computers that read emotions [cs4fn-pdf]
- Could you make the most powerful computer ever created … out of chocolates? It’s actually quite easy. You just have to have enough chocolates (and some lollies). It is one of computer science’s most important achievements.Chocoholic Turing machines [cs4fn-pdf]
- Data compression helps get information small enough to be transmitted quickly, so we can download texts movies and music.Little Data: Compressing Vicky Pollard [cs4fn-link]
- Rather than having to learn how to use your computers, your computers will have to learn how you would like to use them.Making computers that treat you right [cs4fn-pdf]
- An operating system is the software that has direct control of the hardware that applications are to run on.Smart Phones, Operating Systems and Google Android [cs4fn-link]
- Grace Hopper is famous for more than just the word ‘bug’ though. She was one of the most influential of the early computer pioneers, responsible for perhaps the most significant idea in helping programmers to write large, bug-free programs.Sorry to bug you: Grace Hopper [cs4fn-link]
- Humans are great at multitasking so as a cook becomes more confident they start to overlap some of the tasks, checking what to do next while stirring the pot perhaps, or leaving a sauce to simmer while chopping the herbs. Computers do similar things.Ratatouille: Rats doing massively parallel computing [cs4fn-link]
- The knapsack problem lies at the heart of many of today’s software encryption applications that let people transfer financial and other personal information over the Internet safely.Countdown – a tale of codes and computational conundrums [cs4fn-link]
- The Internet like the real world is a mixture of wonders and worries. As with every technology it’s what you do with it that determines whether it is good or bad.Mouse arrest [cs4fn-link]
New twists on old favourites [cs4fn-link]
Gone Phishing [cs4fn-link]
- When you send an email, ever thought how it actually gets from here to there?Real snail mail [cs4fn-pdf]
- When pop star Madonna took to the stage at Brixton Academy in 2001 for a rare appearance she made Internet history and caused more that a little Internet misery.Die another Day? Or How Madonna crashed the Internet [cs4fn-pdf]
- Computer science isn’t just about using language, sometimes it’s about losing it. Sometimes people want to send messages so secret that no one even knows the messages exist.Hiding in Skype [cs4fn-pdf]
- You are revamping a hotel and are introducing new card locks rather than ones with keys. Your first thought is to connect all the doors to a computer network. Would that work?Hotel Doors and Keycode algorithms [cs4fn-link]
- Since the advent of the microprocessor by Intel in 1971, electronic computers have made their way into more areas of our everyday life. It is now unlikely that most people in the developed world will get through a day without some use of a computer. So what are the impacts of this technological revolution which benefits and detriments our society?So What’s the Problem? The Impact of Computers [cs4fn-link]
- With more and more opportunity to tell the world your stories, through web blogging, or networking sites like myspace and youtube, there are so many tales being told, but which of them are true and which of them made up.Peer into science – It makes a good story [cs4fn-link]
- Social scientists have found that people don’t always help others, even if they realise someone’s in trouble. The only way to figure out why this happens, and what makes a difference whether bystanders help someone, is to study situations like it. But how? Scientists can’t just go around beating people up to see how others will react.Stirring up virtual trouble [cs4fn-pdf]
It is suggested that:
- Primary teachers focus on the badge statements from the Pink to Purple row.
- Secondary teachers focus on the badge statements from the Purple to Black row.
- The white row overlaps with the KS4 qualification specifications.