Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Aaronson's MIT lectures on theoretical computer science - open to all

Scott Aaronson teaches an MIT course on theoretical computer science (emphasis mine)

6.080 Great Ideas in Theoretical Computer Science

... a challenging introduction to some of the central ideas of theoretical computer science. It attempts to present a vision of "computer science beyond computers": that is, CS as a set of mathematical tools for understanding complex systems such as universes and minds. Beginning in antiquity -- with Euclid's algorithm and other ancient examples of computational thinking -- the course will progress rapidly through propositional logic, Turing m achines and computability, finite automata, Gödel's theorems, efficient algorithms and reducibility, NP-completeness, the P versus NP problem, decision trees and other concrete computational models, the power of randomness, cryptography and one-way functions, computational theories of learning, interactive proofs, and quantum computing and the physical limits of computation...

Prerequisites. This course is designed for undergraduates (both under- and upperclassmen) in computer science and related areas of science and engineering.... The only prerequisite is some facility with mathematical reasoning ... Programming experience is helpful but not essential; the course has no programming assignments.

Scott writes on his blog, Shtetl-optimized, where he's created blogthread for the course, including links to completed lectures:

A typical lecture handout is about 8 pages. I plan to print out each one and leave them by the spot where I keep all the material for five minutes of concentrated attention is practical.

Amidst the mixed news of everyday life in 2008, what a wonder it is that all of us can freely share in work like this. Thank you Scott, and thank you MIT.

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