14. Polanyi, M. The Tacit Dimension. The University of
Chicago Press, 1966.
15. Tedre, M. and Denning, P. J. The long quest for
computational thinking. In Proceedings of the 16th Koli
Calling Conference on Computing Education Research.
(Nov. 2016), 120–129.
16. The LINK. Research Notebook: Computational
Thinking—What and Why?. The Magazine of Carnegie
Mellon University’s School of Computer Science,
March 2011; https://bit.ly/2UTeAed
17. Vahrenhold, J. et al. Informatics Education in Europe:
Are We All In The Same Boat? ACM/Informatics
Europe, NY, 2017; https://doi.org/10.1145/3106077
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20. Wing, J. Computational thinking benefit society.
Social Issues in Computing blog, January 2014;
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Enrico Nardelli ( firstname.lastname@example.org) is a
Full Professor in Informatics in the Department of
Mathematics at the University of Rome “Tor Vergata,”
Italy. He is currently the president of Informatics Europe,
the association representing the academic and research
Informatics community in Europe.
Discussions with Mehdi Jazayeri, Jan van Leeuwen,
Michael Lodi, Simone Martini, and Guido Proietti have been
useful to focus ideas and improve presentation; comments
from referees have also been greatly helpful. Many of the
ideas first presented in this Viewpoint have been further
developed by the author in subsequent papers since
this material was reviewed, revised, and accepted for
publication in early 2017.
Copyright held by author.
We have thus a more general explanation of what CT is, covering
also cases that are of high interest for
schools and education: simulations
in other disciplines, where one has
to build and manipulate a visible representation of physical laws and/or
natural/social phenomena (that is, to
model a situation and explore its possible evolution) rather than to solve
a problem. Simulation is a very powerful tool to improve understanding
and computing is unique in its capability of making concrete the abstract
models defined by a simulation. 2 In
addition, we have a formulation that
can be used to explain why mathematics or other sciences are not enough
for these purposes.
In such a way informatics can more
clearly explain its dual role12 both as a
fundamental scientific subject, with its
own independent set of concepts, and
as a discipline of transversal value, pro-
viding methods contributing to a bet-
ter understanding of other disciplines. 7
This latter role of computing is also of
particular importance for its introduc-
tion as a regular subject in schools, and
can constitute a solid argument for con-
sidering it as a foundational discipline,
on par with mathematics. 4, 17
1. Aho, A. V. Computation and computational thinking.
Ubiquity, vol.2011, issue January, Article no. 1,
January 2011. ACM Press. DOI: https://doi.org/
2. Armoni, M. Computer science, computational thinking,
programming, coding: The anomalies of transitivity in
K– 12 computer science education. ACM Inroads 7, 4
Dec. 2015), 24–27.
3. Bateson, G. Form, substance and difference. In Steps to
an Ecology of Mind. University of Chicago Press, 1972.
4. Caspersen, M.E. et al. Informatics for All: The
Strategy. ACM/Informatics Europe, NY, 2017;
5. Denning, P.J. Computational thinking in science.
American Scientist 105, (Jan.–Feb. 2017); 13–17.
6. Denning, P. Remaining trouble spots with
computational thinking. Commun. ACM 60, 6 (June
7. Denning, P.J. and Rosenbloom, P.S. Computing: The
fourth great domain of science. Commun. ACM 52, 9
(Sept. 2009), 27–29.
8. Denning, P.J., Tedre, M., and Yongpradit, P.
Misconceptions about computer science. Commun.
ACM 60, 3 (Mar. 2017), 31–33.
9. Forsythe, G.E. What to do till the computer scientist
comes. The American Mathematical Monthly 75, (May
1968), 454–462; https://bit.ly/2S19xXo
10. Knuth, D.E. Computer science and its relation to
mathematics. The American Mathematical Monthly
81, 4 (Apr. 1974), 323–343; https://bit.ly/2ErRMMU
11. Lodi, M., Martini, S., and Nardelli, E. Abbiamo davvero
bisogno del pensiero computazionale? Mondo Digitale
72 (Nov. 2017), AICA, Milan; https://bit.ly/2CLJcr5
12. Nardelli, E. Informatica nella scuola: disciplina
fondamentale e trasversale, ovvero “di cosa parliamo
quando parliamo di pensiero computazionale.”
Scienze e Ricerche Magazine (Apr. 2017), 36-40;
13. Papert, S. Mindstorms: Children, Computers, and
Powerful Ideas. Basic Books, 1980.
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