Freshman Seminar: What is Computing?
Spring 2012


Computer technology has produced many impressive gadgets that surround us every day. However, its foundations are still a mystery to many. The purpose of this seminar is to discuss what computing is, with the hope of getting some insights about its essence and its future potential.

Instructor: Tevfik Bultan
Seminar webpage:
Seminar blog:
Meeting time: 11:00-11:50, Wednesday
Location: GIRV 1108
Enrollment Code: 56259
Units: This will be a 1 unit seminar

General Information

Each week we are going to discuss a topic about computing. I will post my views about each discussion topic to this blog. I will ask you to do three things each week:
  1. Attend the seminar and participate in the discussion.
  2. Read my blog post about that topic we discussed.
  3. Send me (via email or by posting to the blog) your comments about that post.


  • Week 1 (April 4): Transformers
  • Week 2 (April 11): Universality
  • Week 3 (April 18): Everything is a number.
  • Week 4 (April 25): Lego Lab
  • Week 5 (May 2): Recipes for Computing
  • Weeks 6 and 7 (May 9, 16): Timeline of Computer Science
  • Week 8 (May 23): Biological Computers
  • Week 9 (May 30): Limitations
  • Week 10 (June 6): Quantum Computing, guest lecture by Professor Wim van Dam.