Computational thinking is not about fun and games

Algorithmic thinking is more than learning to do things sequentially (Computational thinking: Kids don't need digital games to learn it, by Dr Rebecca Chan; May 28; and Pre-schoolers get early start in coding game, May 22).

It also involves planning to carry out multiple tasks on several processors in distant locations, and to coordinate the work, to deliver an end result.

Decomposition for computer software is more than seeing the components that form a structure.

For a software engineer, it requires implementing complex tasks by assembling simpler modules which are designed to be reusable in other problem situations.

These abstract skills in computation and coding are not likely to be observed or appreciated among young children, and should be taught formally through mathematics and computing courses.

Mathematical modelling is used to represent essential features of a problem, while optimisation is used to formulate the best solution using available information.

These are foundational concepts for studying computing and programming languages to develop software applications for solving real-life problems.

Serious education is needed for this, not just having fun with computer games.

Tng Cheong Sing (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 02, 2017, with the headline 'Computational thinking is not about fun and games'. Print Edition | Subscribe