Programming Paradigms and Beyond

Shriram Krishnamurthi, Kathi Fisler

The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research, 2019


Programming is a central concern of computer science, so its medium---programming languages---should be a focus of computing education. Unfortunately, much of the community lacks useful tools to understand and organize languages, since the standard literature is mired in the ill-defined and even confusing concept of paradigms.

This chapter suggests the use of notional machines, i.e., human-accessible operational semantics, as a central organizing concept for understanding languages. It introduces or re-examines several concepts in programming and languages, especially state, whose complexity is understood well in the programming languages literature but is routinely overlooked in computing education. It identifies and provides context for numerous open problems worthy of research focus, some of which are new twists on long-running debates while others have not received the attention in the literature that they deserve.


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This document is a pre-publication draft from Fincher and Robins's The Cambridge Handbook of Computing Education Research, Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. The published version has been further edited. The draft is made available under CUP's Green Open Access policy.



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