Teaching of Procedures-Progress Report

Unknown author (1972-10-01)

The idea of building a programmer is very seductive in that it holds the promise of massive bootstrapping and thus ties in with many ideas about learning and teaching. I will avoid going into those issues here. It is necessary, however, to explain what I am not working on. I am not interested in developing new and better languages for expressing algorithms. When FORTRAN was invented, it was touted as an automatic programmer, and indeed it was, as it relieved the user of complete specification of the details of implementation. Newer programming languages are just elaborations (usually better) of that basic idea. I am, however, interested in the problem of implementation of a partially specified algorithm rather tan a complete algorithm and a partially specified implementation. This problem is truly in the domain of Artificial Intelligence because the system which "solves" this problem needs a great deal of knowledge about the problem domain for which te algorithm is being constructed in order to "reasonably" complete the specification. Indeed, a programmer is not told exactly the algorithm to be implemented, he is told the problem which his program is expected to solve.