Eric Roberts > courses

CS 10SC. Intellectual Excitement of Computer Science—Sophomore College. All too often, students today have come to equate computer science with programming, oblivious to the fact that computer science is a much broader field with a rich intellectual tradition. This seminar introduces students to several of the most interesting and challenging problems in computer science, exploring a range of topics including the analysis of algorithms, computability, cryptography, hardware design, and artificial intelligence. This year’s course, which is also open to students from Oxford University, will place particular emphasis on British contributions to computer science, including the work of Charles Babbage, Ada Lovelace, Alan Turing, and Tony Hoare. Students are expected to undertake a small-group research project examining other intellectually exciting aspects of the field. No prior experience with computer science is required, but an interest in and enthusiasm for problem-solving will help enormously.
CS 68N. Technological Visions of Utopia—Stanford Introductory Seminar. Preference to freshmen. The role of computers and other technologies in literary visions of utopian and anti-utopian societies. Readings include classical utopian texts including More’s Utopia and Bellamy’s Looking Backward, along with recent books and films in which technology plays a more central role.
Last offered in 2004-05. Superseded by IHUM 58.
The Two Cultures: Bridging the Gap—In 1959, the British physicist and novelist C. P. Snow delivered a lecture at Cambridge University in which he argued that “the intellectual life of the whole of western society is increasingly being split into two polar groups.” In Snow’s view, these groups, which can be characterized roughly as humanists and scientists, exist as separate cultures that have “almost ceased to communicate at all.” In this seminar, a professor of Computer Science and a professor of English collaborate to examine the nature of this split—reflected at Stanford by the tendency to divide the campus community into “techies” and “fuzzies”—and explore ways to bridge this cultural gap.
Last offered in 2000-01.
CS 106A. Programming Methodology—Introduction to the engineering of computer applications emphasizing modern software engineering principles: object-oriented design, decomposition, encapsulation, abstraction, and testing. Uses the Java programming language. Emphasis is on good programming style and the built-in facilities of the Java language. No prior programming experience required. GER:DB-EngrAppSci
Materials from Winter 2008-09
CS 106B. Programming Abstractions—Abstraction and its relation to programming. Software engineering principles of data abstraction and modularity. Object-oriented programming, fundamental data structures (such as stacks, queues, sets) and data-directed design. Recursion and recursive data structures (linked lists, trees, graphs). Introduction to time and space complexity analysis. Uses the programming language C++ covering its basic facilities. Prerequisite: 106A or equivalent. GER:DB-EngrAppSci
Materials from Spring 2008-09
CS 181. Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy—Primarily for majors entering computer-related fields. Ethical and social issues related to the development and use of computer technology. Ethical theory, and social, political, and legal considerations. Scenarios in problem areas: privacy, reliability and risks of complex systems, and responsibility of professionals for applications and consequences of their work. Prerequisite: 106B or X. GER:DB-EthicReas, WIM
Prior to 2008-09, this course was offered as CS 201.
IHUM 58. Technological Visions of Utopia— Throughout history, philosophers have speculated about the nature of the “good society” and how to achieve it. Although earlier writers had offered their views, Sir Thomas More gave a name to this ideal society that has become part of common language: utopia. In the almost 500 years since More’s Utopia appeared, society has changed dramatically. Enormous advances in science and technology have opened up new possibilities for utopian society that More and his predecessors could not have envisioned. At the same time, science and technology also entail risks that suggest more dystopian scenarios—in their most extreme form, threats to humanity’s very survival. This course looks at several works that consider how literary visions of society evolved with the progress of science and technology. The readings begin with More and continue forward to the much more technologically determined visions of the late 20th century. The course also considers one cinematic treatment of technology and utopia, Fritz Lang’s film classic Metropolis.
Instructors: Eric Roberts and Rob Robinson
OSPOXFRD 18. British Technology and the Second World War—British science and technology was instrumental in winning the Second World War. This course looks at several different technological innovations undertaken in Britain in the context of the wartime period: the breaking of the German Enigma code at Bletchley Park (which Winston Churchill credited with having won the Battle of the Atlantic), the development of radar, the advances in wartime medicine and pharmacology (most notably, the first practical uses of penicillin), and the participation by British scientists in the Manhattan Project. The course will explore the underlying scientific principles at a level that should be accessible to students with no college-level background in science. GER:DB-EngrAppSci
Last offered in 2003-04.
OSPBER 45. Computers, Ethics, and Public Policy—This course is similar to CS 181 at Stanford but is offered at the Berlin campus through Stanford’s Overseas Studies Program. The overall topics are the same as those I cover at the home campus, but the examples focus on issues of relevance to the European Union. GER:DB-EngrAppSci
Last offered in 2009-10.
STS/ENGLISH 103Q. Reading and Writing Poetry about Science—Preference to sophomores. Students will study recent poetry inspired by the phenomena and history of the sciences in order to write such poems themselves. These poems bring sensuous human experience to bear on biology, ecology, neuroscience, physics, astronomy, and geology, as well as on technological advances and missteps. Poets such as Mark Doty, Albert Goldbarth, Jorie Graham, Adrienne Rich, Pattiann Rogers, W. S. Merwin, and C. K. Williams. Grounding in poetics, research in individually chosen areas of science, weekly analytical and creative writing. Enrollment limited to 12.
Instructors: Lauren Rusk and Eric Roberts
Last offered in 2010-11.
STS 200. Senior Colloquium: Wired Worlds: Promise and Peril in the Digital Age—Over the two decades since the creation of the World Wide Web, communication networks, along with the social networks built on top of that technology, have changed our world in profound ways. This version of the STS Senior Colloquium will focus on how modern networking technology affects our society in both positive and negative ways.
Last offered in 2009-10.