• xTalks: Digital Discourses

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The Art of Insights: Gerald Jay Sussman on How to Think About Circuits, as a Language

Prof Sussman and Electronic Circuit Board (creativity103.com/design-packs/index.htm#electronik (creative commons)

Featured speaker:
Gerald Jay Sussman


Circuits are like mathematics or computer programming.
Prof Sussman believes we teach all of these incorrectly.

We teach them as exercises in skill acquisition, like how to hit a baseball. But that is not the essence of the matter.

In fact, these subjects are linguistic in nature. In each case there are "utterances" that are primitive, or compound, or abstract. In order to effectively use language we must understand what the primitive utterances refer to, how the compounds are formed. How the "meaning" of the compounds is constructed from the meanings of the parts. And how the compounds are abstracted so that they can be used as primitives.

Sussman will defend this claim, using numerous illustrative examples. He will show problems he has encountered in teaching circuits in the traditional style and he will show how it is possible to think about them in a more effective manner.

Gerald Jay Sussman is the Panasonic (formerly Matsushita) Professor of Electrical Engineering at MIT (full bio).

Hosted by Vice President of Digital Learning Sanjay Sarma