Wednesday, August 28, 2019

Introduction to Computers and Programming using C++ and MATLAB

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This “book” arises out of a course I teach, a four-credit (52 hour), freshman-level course Introduction to Computers and Programming being taught in the College of Engineering at the University of Michigan. The book is in reasonably rough shape at this stage. It was assembled from my lecture notes several years ago and is under constant revision. I may never finish it! A wise person once said, “Old age happens when you dwell more on the past than on the future.” By this definition, I have found eternal youth, insofar as this book is concerned.

My educational objectives are quite simple. This is not really a course in computing. It is a course in thinking, technical thinking, logical thinking, about formulating a problem, a mathematical problem, a physics problem, a game, and then, executing a solution and making it “work”. I consider the computer and the ability to program it as a kind of laboratory—a laboratory to investigate practically, the theories and ideas of other technical courses. It is possible, for example, to teach a lot of Calculus to students without ever mentioning the word, and there are several examples throughout this book.

This course is not about syntax. Hence, the book introduces the minimum amount syntax to get through a problem. Indeed, I even keep some syntax hidden, to encourage students to discover their own algorithms. So, if you are thinking of using this book as a technical reference in C++ or Matlab, I anticipate that you will be disappointed.

The greatest value in this book, if there is any to be found, is in the exercises, problems and projects at the back of almost every chapter. The ideal way to learn a computer language is to learn a little syntax and then try it out on a computer. The ideal way to think is not to read about it, but to actually do it! The book reflects this. The material in the chapters, separated from the exercises, is worse than useless, for reading the material and not doing the problems is just a waste of time. Do the problems! Moreover, don’t ask me for the solutions! There is much more pedagogical value in a well-posed question than a well-articulated answer.

1. Introduction to the course
2. Data representations
3. Algorithms and Pseudocodes
4. Getting started in C++
5. Loops
6. Early Abstraction—Functions
7. More Variable Types, Data Abstraction
8. More Data Abstraction, Arrays, Structures
9. Miscellaneous Topics
10. A Potpourri of Applications
11. Programming in MATLAB
12. Graphics
13. Miscellaneous topics
14. Programming Style Guide for C++
15. Syntax reference for beginning C++
16. Syntax reference for more advanced C++
17. Syntax reference for MATLAB

Author Details
"Alex F. Bielajew"

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