Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Day 7: Lots More Objects

We took a detour from the notes yesterday morning and built some classes to represent matrices. One reason was to show students how to break a problem down into pieces and solve them one by one; another was to introduce the notions of encapsulation, polymorphism, and inheritance. Aran Donohue (one of the TAs here in Toronto) thinks that inheritance is over-taught, and taught too early—he may be right, but it's also hard to avoid, since so many libraries and frameworks (and tutorials, but that's a circular argument) expect familiarity with it.

We looked at operator overloading and (very briefly) at design patterns in the afternoon, then did a modeling exercise. What classes would you create if you were writing a program to simulate solar systems? What would those classes' responsibilities be, and which classes would collaborate with which others? The most creative solution included Santa Claus; the most complete took collisions and explosions into account.

Day 8 will be quality assurance and unit testing. By the time we're done, we'll be halfway through...

UNIVERSITY OF ALBERTA · UNIVERSITY OF TORONTO

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