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1.00 to Use C++ Language As Fall Semester Experiment

By Brett Altschul

Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00) will be using the C++ computer language instead of the traditional language of C this semester as part of an experiment.

The experiment will be in place for the next two or three fall terms, said Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Steven R. Lerman '72, who is teaching the course.

For spring semesters, 1.00 will be taught in C as it traditionally has been, he said.

"The spring class is usually larger and it has more freshmen than the fall," Lerman said. "We want people to be able to take the older version of the class, if they want to."

Change makes tasks easier

Lerman said that C++ was being introduced because it allowed for object-oriented programming, which makes some tasks much easier.

"At the end of the course, we've been trying some things that encounter some of the problems with C," he said.

He also said that C++ should be a very useful language outside MIT.

"Most of the interesting programming in the business world is done in C++ these days," he said. "There's definitely been a move toward C++ over the last several years."

C++ is "a language that allows students to build better-structured and more usable code," he said. "For the students who'll take the class, knowing C++ is a big advantage."

Lerman said that student reaction will largely dictate what happens after the experiment is complete. "Hopefully, [C++] won't be to confusing," he said. "If it is, the change probably won't go through."

Salal Humair G, the head teaching assistant for the course, who has worked as a TA in 1.00 before, echoed this sentiment. "I really don't know how well it's going to work," he said. "We're waiting for student reactions; that's why it's an experiment."

There is a potential for greater difficulty using C++. "I have mixed feelings about it," he said. "Some students may have difficulty with the language. It can be very confusing for some things."

Course content remains similar

The overall content of the course will remain fairly similar to last year despite the change of languages, Lerman said. In particular, the first half of the course should be largely unchanged, Lerman said. "You need to learn some C before you can learn any C++."

However, the use of C++ should also make some of the early parts of the course simpler because certain things are harder to learn in C, Lerman said.

Although there is no way to cover all of C++ in a single semester, the important topics will be taught, Lerman said.

"We aren't really emphasizing C++ that much," Humair said. "We're using it as a tool for teaching algorithms, and we're hoping that people will pick up the rest of the language - the complicated things - on their own."

Copyright 19,95, The Tech. All rights reserved.
This story was published on 9/6/96.
Volume 116, Number 39.
This story appeared on page 8.

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