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New 1.00 With C++ Gets Good Reviews

By Polo A. Banuelos

After a one-semester experiment in teaching Introduction to Computers and Engineering Problem Solving (1.00) in the C++ programming language, no decision has been made over whether the class will permanently be taught in the same format. In previous years, 1.00 has been taught in standard C.

Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering Steven R. Lerman '72, who taught the course in the fall, said that "the current commitment is to continue with this plan through the next year."

A decision may be reached by next fall semester, which will allow faculty and staff time to get used to the new language, Lerman said.

In the interim, however, "we were very pleased and the changes did not present any significant barriers," Lerman said. "I have yet to receive copies of class evaluations, but I feel confident that there were no problems with the class," Lerman said.

This semester, 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."

"Most of the interesting programming in the business world is done in C++ these days," Lerman 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.

Still, the overall content of the course in C++ is fairly similar to course in C, Lerman said. "You need to learn some C before you can learn any C++."

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

Only two C++ lectures were added out of the 36 in the course, Lermer said. He also saw no significant change in the grade distribution of the class.

Participants react positively

"The class was a good experience, and we learned along with the students," said Salal Humair G, a teaching assistant for the class. Even though students did have some difficulties with the new format, the teaching assistants were "able to control the chaos."

"Having these extra skills like object orientation will really help in finding a job outside of MIT," said Jonna J. K. Peat '97, a computer science student who took the class last term. She said that she understands the need to eventually upgrade the curriculum in order to keep students competitive.

"C++ is a more common language these days," said Mark N. Pirri '98. "It would seem a more useful class to have it taught" in C++. In addition, "as a more structured language, it teaches a more structured programming style."

Despite its experimental nature, the class "seemed very well organized it seems like it worked quite well," Pirri said.