Teaching basic lab skills
for research computing

Concept Map

While re-designing the Software Carpentry course, I have realized that we rely over and over again on some underyling concepts that are hard to capture as lecture topics. I think these concepts are the heart of any useful definition of "computational thinking". The diagram below is a first attempt to capture what these concepts are and how they're related. (The list below the diagram summarizes the relationships in textual form for easier reading.) Suggestions for improvements would be very welcome...

A model is implemented as a data structure
A model must account for missing or incomplete information
A data format conforms to a model
Instructions for a computer are abstracted as an algorithm
An algorithm operates on a model
Choice of algorithm determines machine performance
Data is abstracted as a model
Data almost always has missing or incomplete information
An archive stores data
An archive conforms to a data format
An archive is parsed to create a data structure
An abstract machine is implemented by a library
A program is a kind of data
A program operates on a data structure
A program conforms to a specification
A data structure is persisted to create an archive
Data structure choice helps determine machine performance
A specification can be defined by testing
Testing checks a program
Testing requires a specification
Tools are programs
Tools support use of software development techniques
Software development techniques support use of tools
Modularization is used to structure programs
Modularization aids testing
Modularization is used to create a library
Hardware is represented to programmers by an abstract machine
Hardware architecture changes machine performance
Machine performance can be traded off against human performance
A library can extend an abstract machine
Experience is captured in a library
Human performance is determined by software development techniques
Human performance can be traded off against machine performance
Human performance depends on experience

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