Problem-solving using computational thinking

Computational thinking allows us to take complex problems and decompose them into smaller tasks to develop solutions. This helps not only with performing computer tasks but also with problem-solving in real-world situations.

This was highlighted by instructor Jeyashree Rajkumar from Lithan Academy, Singapore, during an online talk on “Problem-Solving using Computational Thinking”, organised by the School of Digital Technology (DiGiT) on 16 April 2023.

Jeyashree has over 25 years of experience in the IT industry.

She demonstrated how to create a simple code for computing sums by breaking it down into smaller steps. “This is computational thinking. You identify the big problem and decompose it into smaller, manageable tasks. Once you identify the steps needed, you translate that into code to get the result.”

She reiterated that computational thinking can be applied to solving computer and everyday problems, if we use analytical and logical thinking.

Introducing programming and programming languages.

Focusing on Java, Jeyashree shared how to write simple programs. “Programming is a sequence of instructions given to the computer to perform a specific activity or solve a problem.” Like baking or online shopping, you follow a sequence or set of statements to achieve the desired outcome, she said. “In the same way in the programming code, if you want the computer to solve a specific problem, you give it a set of instructions.”

She clarified that communication with the computer is through programming languages like C, C# (C sharp), Java, and Python.

Java is a ‘write once, run anywhere (WORA)’ program, says Jeyashree.

She said the beauty of the Java programming language is that “we write the program just once, and it can be deployed anywhere”. The fast, secure, reliable Java programming language can be used for coding everything from desktop applications, enterprise level applications, web applications, web services and mobile applications to big data analytics, she added. “Organisations can pull and consolidate data from multiple applications to create an analytics report.”

She highlighted that the process for writing either a simple or a complex program is the same. “Identify what is the problem and how you are going to solve it, what are the steps to follow, and if the steps are correct, we move on to coding. If not, we revise it.  Then we translate the steps into code, test and release it.”

Demonstrating how to write a code.

Jeyashree informed that programming languages like PhP, Python, Java and Node.js are back-end programming languages for web development, while JavaScript is a front-end programming language used for the interaction between the web pages.

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