October 28 Colloquium: "Great Stories in Computer Science: the case for complexity analysis and empirical testing"

Talk Abstract

As an instructor of introductory programming courses (007,401 445, 449) at Pitt and similar courses other universities Prof. Hoffman has consistently encountered math hesitancy to the presentation of complexity analysis. In this talk, he will convey an anecdote - a fascinating story in computer science surrounding the binary search algorithm. In recent years he has been telling this story (along with some related observations) to his students. The positive effect of this story, when properly told and properly put into context, has been a pleasant surprise in its effectiveness to arouse a deep interest and appreciation in his students for complexity analysis in his introductory courses. The story serves as a segue into the incredible demand for computer scientists who can solve the big data problems and how those solutions require a facility in complexity analysis. This is not a technical talk. It is not a research talk. It is merely the sharing of a pedagogical anecdote that has proved effective in motivating students to see the importance of learning the basics of complexity analysis.


Tim Hoffman graduated from the University of Pittsburgh with a Masters in Telecommunications MST then worked at WPIC for over a decade in sleep research. While at WPIC Tim wrote some life science experiments that ran on a Columbia space shuttle mission and then the MIR space station for several years. Tim then taught computer science at CMU for over a decade before coming to Pitt's CS department several years ago.

Personal website: https://people.cs.pitt.edu/~hoffmant/index.html


Sennott Square Building, Room 5502

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