Welcome CS teachers and students!

[Be sure to visit Living Computers in Seattle. SIGCSE 2017 attendees are admitted free during the conference. I visited the museum today and it was a lot of fun! K-12 teachers will enjoy the hands on exhibits.]

The annual ACM Special Interest Group on Computer Science Education (SIGCSE 2017) Technical Symposium is next week (March 8 – 11) in Seattle, Washington. The symposium brings together educators at all levels (K-12 and higher ed) to exchange and discuss the latest methods, practices and results in computer science education.

I don’t often advertise it, but the Sand, Software, Sound site has many resources for educators and students alike. You can browse these resources by clicking on one of the WordPress topic buttons (Raspberry Pi, PERF, Courseware, etc.) above. You can also search for a topic or choose from one of the categories listed in the right sidebar.

Here are a few highlights.

I taught many computer-related subjects during my career and have posted course notes, slides and old projects. The four main sections are:

  • CS2 data structures: Undergraduate data structures course suitable for advanced placement students.
  • Computer design: Undergraduate computer architecture and design which uses a multi-level modeling approach.
  • VLSI systems: Graduate course on VLSI architecture, design and circuits which is suitable for undergraduate seniors.
  • Topics in computer architecture: Material for a special topics seminar about computer architecture (somewhat historical).

Please feel free to dig through these materials and make use of them.

Software and hardware performance analysis formed a major thread throughout my professional life. I recommend reading my series of tutorials on the Linux PERF tool set for software performance analysis:

The ARM11 microarchitecture summary is background material for the PERF tutorial. Program profiling is a good way to bring computer architecture to life and to teach students how to analyze and assess the execution speed of their programs.

There are two additional tutorials and getting started guides for teachers and students working on Raspberry Pi:

Music technology and computer-based music-making have been two of my chief interests over the years. The Arduino section of the site has several of my past projects using the Arduino for music-making. You should also check out my recent blog posts about the littleBits synth modules and littleBits Arduino. Please click on the tags and links at the bottom of each post in order to chase down material.

You might also enjoy my tutorial on software synthesizers for Linux and Raspberry Pi. The tutorial is a getting started guide for musicians of all stripes — music teachers and students are certainly welcome, too!

Wanna design a computer?

The next installment in the courseware section — computer design — is now available.

This course shows how to design a computer starting with an abstract specification of the instruction set architecture (ISA) and ending with a gate-level implementation. The course teaches a method which successively translates a higher-level representation for the machine into a lower-level representation. For example, the ISA is translated to a datapath consisting of large-grain building blocks and a control graph annotated with register transfer statements. Then, the datapath and control graph are mapped into gate-level building blocks and control store. Different datapath and control styles (clocking, pipelining and microprogramming) are discussed. Computer science students should be comfortable with the representations — no scary electronics.

I taught this course for several years at Case Western Reserve University. It’s an undergraduate level course that assumes a prerequisite course in basic logic design. So, if you already know about gates, flip/flops and simple sequential logic, you’re ready to dive right in! Course material includes draft chapters for a book on computer design and slides.

I hope that you will be able to use this course for background knowledge once I begin to experiment with and write up Papillio projects. I would probably base class projects on Xilinx FPGAs (Papillio) if I were teaching this course today. Papillio makes hardware design personal and affordable. I would love to see more computer science students take up hardware design, especially in high school. Perhaps this course will help you out.