The computing universe: origins of computational thinking

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29th October 2014 , 6:00 PM - 7:00 PM


Mill Lane Lecture Rooms


In this talk Tony Hey, Vice President of Microsoft Research, will explore the origins of computers and of ‘computational thinking’. The story begins with the key contributions of Alan Turing and John von Neumann and the twin concepts of universality and hierarchical abstraction. As an illustration of the importance of abstraction, the ‘File clerk’ model of Nobel prize-winning physicist Richard Feynman computing will be described. Our examination of computer hardware takes us from logic gates to the microprocessor and Moore’s Law. On the software side, our discussion of algorithms begins with Euclid’s algorithm for the Greatest Common Divisor and ends with a description of PageRank, the ‘billion dollar’ algorithm that launched the search giant Google. An account of the origins of the personal computer, the Internet and Web then brings us up to the present. We end the talk with a look to the future with the rise of AI and Machine Learning and Butler Lampson’s ‘Third Age of Computing’.


This event is taking place as part of the Cambridge Festival of Ideas 2014.

Book your free tickets online at or by calling 01223 766766