IEEE Computer Society and ACM Launch Innovative Computer Science Curriculum

LOS ALAMITOS, Calif., 17 January 2014 — As unabated growth in the global computing field continues, ACM (the Association for Computing Machinery) and the IEEE Computer Society have jointly developed new curriculum guidelines for undergraduate degree programs that foster integration of computing with other disciplines. The report, Computer Science Curricula 2013, organizes computer science around 18 Knowledge Areas that reflect the application of computing tools in a wide array of disciplines. It also incorporates new areas of knowledge for computing skills that include information assurance and security, parallel and distributed computing, and platform-based applications. The report provides curricular models suitable to a broad range of higher education institutions worldwide. It is available to academic leaders, accrediting bodies, and college and university faculties from ACM and IEEE-CS.

“Computing is a critical 21st- century skill and there is real need to include more computing in higher education,” said Mehran Sahami, co-chair of the ACM/IEEE-CS 2013 Joint Task Force. “The CS2013 curricular guidelines reflect developments in computing in the past decade, including the pervasive use of parallel computing and the need to better understand computer security. Topics commonly covered in introductory programming courses have been updated and reorganized in a new area called Software Development Fundamentals. We have also created a Systems Fundamentals area that helps highlight more broadly applicable systems-level concepts,” said Sahami of Stanford University, who is Associate Chair for Education in the university’s Computer Science Department.

CS2013 includes examples of ways in which an undergraduate Computer Science program encourages the development of soft skills and personal attributes. These abilities include teamwork, verbal and written communication, time management, problem solving, and flexibility as well as risk tolerance, collegiality, patience, work ethic, and appreciation for diversity. They all play a critical role in the workplace and in promoting successful professional practice in a variety of career paths.

The guidelines are intended to help computer science students learn to integrate theory and practice and recognize the importance of abstraction. It also teaches them to appreciate the value of good engineering design in the rapidly changing computer field at a time when computer science impacts nearly every modern endeavor.

The CS2013 report benefitted from a broad engagement of members of the computing community, who reviewed and critiqued successive drafts of this document. It reflects the input of more than 100 contributors at global institutions of higher learning.