The Difference Between Computers and Calculators

In the course description of Golan Levin's Introduction to Interactive Graphics, it says that no programming experience is necessary. Yesterday's class totally disproved that notion. Had I not taken Computing in Design last year, I would have been totally overwhelmed and lost. Homework for this week includes such "simple" Processing exercises as:

Develop a composition which in which one thousand lines respond to the cursor.

The 3 hour class last night was an introduction to programming that covered nearly the same amount of material as the entire semester of Computing in Design did, minus arrays: if/else statements, for statements, basic syntax, and the different types of numbers. When you have a number, you have to specify what type of number it is. Floats have decimals and thus, in animation, help achieve smooth organic movement since your cursor can land on a coordinate like 20.345. Integers have no decimals and are good for counting. Boolean is a number that can only have true or false.

There's two main differences between computers and calculators, according to Golan: iteration and if. The computer can do millions of iterations easily. If statements (if this happens, then do this) are the beginning of a system that responds to humans. It's rudimentary reactivity, but it's a start.

Originally posted on Wednesday, September 15, 2004

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