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What is Musicomputation?

Musicomputation is a 2 1/2 week class sponsored by the National Science Foundation. Two NYU professors, and two doctoral candidates are teaching computer science and computer music to teenagers from June 2 to June 19, 2008. Students were selected on the basis of their mathematics and music expertise. Our hypothesis is that it is easier to learn computer science when the data you are modeling and the problems you are solving belong to a domain that you know well and love. This is why we are teaching children who are expert in music and selecting examples from music to teach computer science.

While we teach, we are also exploring how basic Computer Science might be integrated into the middle/high school curricula, a significant question for the educational and scientific research communities. The ubiquitousness of computational thinking in current intellectual thought makes this an extremely significant line of research. The math and science curricula for U.S. middle and high school have remained mostly unchanged for over 60 years and we think it is time for Computer Science to be added. To be clear, in our view, an AP course in JAVA or some other current programming language is not sufficient. We are talking about algorithms, data structures and other aspects of computer science in addition to programming. We feel that students need to understand lasting information that will still be relevant should JAVA and C be replaced by newer programming languages.

Our hope is that this session, in combination with other similar sessions in other areas will help bring together enough exciting and effective ways to teach computer science. In the long term, we see the need for an engaging computer science text book for middle/high school students along the lines of Mathematics: A Human Endeavor by Harold Jacobs (one of the most entertaining mathematics text books ever written).

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This class was supported by the National Science Foundation, award IIS-0834034.

We would also like to thank Jenny Meyers for designing the MusiComputation Logo.

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