Brown CS News

Michael Littman’s New Series Of Educational Videos Explores Weird, Wondrous CS

    Click the links that follow for more news about Michael Littman and other recent accomplishments by Brown CS faculty.

    Newcomers to the field of computer science who see it as more than just a ticket to a job at a big tech company have found a kindred spirit in Brown CS faculty member Michael Littman, who has just released Weird Computer Science, a new series of educational videos

    “More and more people,” he says, “are being exposed to ideas from computing, with a dramatic expansion of high school classes available and a spike in enrollment in college classes. Computing expertise is very much in demand, so a lot of that attention is around the idea of jobs, but many people might not know about some of the amazing – and amazingly mind-bending! – ideas that make up our field. Unlike typical ‘how-to’ videos, we focus on the more out-there concepts that make CS deep and interesting and fun.” 

    Michael’s partner for the project is his longtime collaborator and friend, Charles Isbell, who was a faculty member and dean at the Georgia Institute of Technology at the time the videos were made, and the videos are a joint production of Georgia Tech and Brown University that began in 2019 but was delayed by the pandemic. Topics covered are quantum computing, neural networks, SAT solvers, Bitcoin, the halting problem, and the Y Combinator. The two scientists have previously released other videos together as “Smoov and Curly”.

    “Charles and I have a sense of wonder around computing and its possibilities,” says Michael. “Our field needs more people who feel childlike awe sometimes, and they’re out there, and these videos are for them. We’re hoping to expose them to whiz-bang ideas that will foster that awe and wonder and encourage continued deep engagement with computation.” 

    For more information, click the link that follows to contact Brown CS Communications Manager Jesse C. Polhemus.