computational thinking

It is possible to think of a business as a very sophisticated programme that takes and reacts to a wide range of inputs, returning profits and other business goals. Like a programme, a business has control structures and processes information. Also like a programme, businesses generally perform many, repetitive processes. We can even think of business partnerships and value chains, as being a bit like programmes calling, or reusing, other programmes.

Given this, write a 2000 word essay exploring the following question:
How can understanding Programming and applying Computational Thinking help managers design, build and operate complex, innovation intensive, data-driven organisations?

In exploring this question you may like to:

• Consider a particular industry or business to help focus your thinking.

• Reflect on the key concepts we have covered in the module including control
abstraction, data abstraction, decomposing and generalising problems, the structure of algorithms and programmes, and facilitating reuse through abstract data types, encapsulation and information hiding.

• Think about what the business analogy might be for different programming constructs. What might be the business analogy to a function, to input parameters, to return values, to loops, to objects etc.? What are the business analogies to computing resources?

• Consider whether managers of complex, innovation intensive, data-driven organisations need to have programming skills.

• Consider the definitions of what it means to think computationally. The appendix to this document brings together many of the Computational Thinking definitional quotes from Jeanette Wing that have already appeared in the lecture slides.

• Investigate the future nature of flexible fast-moving innovative-intensive data-driven business. You may like to research and consider concepts such as “virtual business” (where almost everything is outsourced), “business experimentation”, and “agile enterprise”.

• Reflect on how thinking computationally can support specific problems a senior manager is likely to be faced in innovative-intensive, data-driven businesses.

• Consider how this question relates to different facets of managing a business. Thinking about the Business Model Canvas may help you with this.
These are just some ideas to get you started. Some of these considerations are reflected in the assessment criteria below.

Assessment Criteria
• A good answer will demonstrate effective understanding and appropriate use of at least three key concepts from the module to support your answer. A very good or excellent answer will provide effective understanding and use of more than three concepts to support excellence.

• A good answer will demonstrate effective argument for at least three business analogies with programming constructs, drawing appropriate conclusions from these analogies. A very good or excellent answer will draw on more than three analogies.

• A good answer will provide arguments and conclusions that are particularly relevant to innovation-intensive, data-driven businesses. A very good or excellent answer will also consider future scenarios, arguing how computational thinking is likely to become more important to such businesses in the future.

• A good answer also needs to demonstrate your own critically argued opinions, backed up by evidence of independent research, providing pertinent references to support your arguments. A very good or excellent answer will also use appropriately referenced academic sources and/or quantitative data.

Penalties For Over-Length Coursework
• For this essay the required word count is 2000 words. You are not allowed to provide additional work as appendices. If you do include appendices these will be ignored and not considered in the marking. You can include relevant images but text included in scanned images will be included in the word count. You should avoid unnecessary text in images.
• Assessed work shouldn’t exceed the prescribed length. For work that exceeds the specified maximum length by less than 10% the mark will be reduced by ten percentage marks; but the penalised mark will not be reduced below the pass mark, assuming the work merited a pass.
• For work that exceeds the specified maximum length by 10% or more, a mark of zero will be recorded.
• In the case of coursework that is submitted over-length and is also late, the greater of the two penalties will apply.

Computational Thinking quotes by Jeanette Wing.
• Computational thinking describes the mental activity in formulating a problem to admit a computational solution. The solution can be carried out by a human or machine, or more generally, by combinations of humans and machines.
• Computational thinking overlaps with logical thinking and systems thinking. It includes algorithmic thinking and parallel thinking, which in turn engage other kinds of thought processes, e.g., compositional reasoning, pattern matching, procedural thinking, and recursive thinking.
• Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behaviour, by drawing on the concepts fundamental to computer science.
• Computational thinking is reformulating a seemingly difficult problem into one we know how to solve, perhaps by reduction, embedding, transformation, or simulation.
• Computational thinking is using abstraction and decomposition when attacking a large complex task or designing a large complex system.
• Computational thinking is thinking recursively… It is interpreting code as data and data as code.
• Computational thinking is choosing an appropriate representation for a problem.
• Computational thinking is using heuristic reasoning to discover a solution. It is planning, learning, and scheduling in the presence of uncertainty. It is search, search, and more search.
• Computational thinking is judging a program not just for correctness and efficiency but for aesthetics, and a system’s design for simplicity and elegance.

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