Magic and Algorithms: The Australian Magician’s Dream

The Australian Magician’s Dream is a booklet on computational thinking based around a magic trick and how punch cards were once used to store and search for data. The booklet is written by Paul Curzon and Peter McOwan of Queen Mary University of London based on the cs4fn magic shows.

  • The skills you need to be a great stage magician are exactly the same as those you need to be a great computer scientist: computational thinking. Magic tricks are algorithms and that is all a computer program is too. When early computers searched for data, they were actually doing a magic trick called the Australian Magician’s Dream. Computer programmers really are wizards!
  • Learn about search algorithms, divide and conquer, binary numbers, computational thinking, generalisation and pattern matching, abstraction, data representation, computational modelling, algorithmic thinking, evaluation, logical thinking.
  • Download the linked classroom activity sheets: The Australian Magician’s Dream and Punch Card Searching.

More of our resources, including linked classroom activities can be found in our resources section.


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