The Magic of Algorithm Design and Analysis: Teaching Algorithmic Skills using Magic Card Tricks

Abstract

We describe our experience using magic card tricks to teach algorithmic skills to first-year Computer Science undergraduates. We illustrate our approach with a detailed discussion on a card trick that is typically presented as a test to the psychic abilities of an audience. We use the trick to discuss concepts like problem decomposition, pre- and post-conditions, and invariants. We discuss pedagogical issues and analyse feedback collected from students. The feedback has been very positive and encouraging.

Publication
In 19th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education
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Alexandra Mendes
Assistant Professor

My research focuses on innovative user interfaces for formal methods and mathematical approaches to software quality. I am also interested on innovative and fun ways to teach Computer Science. For more details, see selected publications and some of my projects. Follow me on Twitter or add me on LinkedIn.