CCE Theses and Dissertations


Foundations of Computer Science A Survey of Computer Science via its Grand Ideas

Date of Award


Document Type


Degree Name

Doctor of Philosophy (PhD)


Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences


Michael J. Laszlo

Committee Member

Lee J. Leitner

Committee Member

Junping Sun


This dissertation constitutes findings on research into the grand ideas of computer science and a philosophical framework for the grand ideas. By way of illustration, this dissertation is in the form of a college-level text meant to demonstrate both the grand ideas of computer science and a potential framework for them.

The text is a sophisticated survey of the foundational concepts which form the basis of computer science. The text may serve as an introduction to computer science for those new to the discipline and also as a concise review of topics for those familiar with the discipline.

The text is broken down into four units: the overview, the user's view, the functional view and the foundational view. The entire text and each of the first three units follows a spiral approach. The first three units present ideas in a top-down fashion (i.e., levels of increasing abstraction). The final unit presents ideas in a bottom-up fashion. Incorporated throughout the text are principles derived from the liberal arts, especially the notion of the trivium. The grand ideas of computer science are introduced through the use of "guiding questions" for each unit.

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