Vision of Education: 2016


Richard M. Karp, a professor at the University of California, Berkeley, presented the seemingly esoteric talk, “The Algorithmic Nature of Scientific Theories” at the recently held symposium 2016 sponsored by the Computer Science and Telecommunications Board.

STEVE LOHR reports that an algorithm is a step-by-step recipe for calculation. It is a central concept in both mathematics and computer science.

Lohr reports further that Karp says algorithms are good at describing dynamic processes, while scientific formulas or equations are more suited to static phenomena. Increasingly, scientific research seeks to understand dynamic processes, and computer science, he said, is the systematic study of algorithms.

Biology, Dr. Karp said further, is now understood as an information science. And scientists seek to describe biological processes, like protein production, as algorithms.

This is only one of multiple such presentations at the symposium. I’ll watch for futher reports. Let me know if you see one first.

It appears that future behavioral and social scientists will use algorithms more than scientific formulas to stay on the front edge of research and learning theories.

That’s an exciting prospect for teachers. I can imagine that means changes also in what teachers learn about learning and curricula changes in K12 to exploit these dynamics.

I wonder how many fifth grade teachers have started adapting their teaching of biology as an information science based on algorithms as they help prepare future scientists?

By Bob Heiny