Does anyone have any suggestions?
I think this course will end up to be the start of a revolution in online teaching. We've had MOOCs and OCW, and other courses online for a while now, but this is a whole different level. They enlisted 3Blue1Brown (Grant Sanderson) to lecture. Arguably, he is head and shoulders above everyone else when it comes to mathematical animations and intuitive explanations. Coupling the pedagogical genius of this guy with the research genius of Alan Edelman, and with the expressivity of the new language Julia (which might beat Scheme in the end), this is a recipe for absolute success.
Oh, and the main lectures are live and you can ask questions (and if your question is good, you receive the answer right away).
Run, do not walk, to enlist in this course.
Having discovered programming in a functional language (Ocaml) I found that it was people with prior experience in other languages (such as Python) who had the most trouble getting confortable with recurcion.
I would try it out. It might need some analytically wired thought process, but again that is true for any kind of programming paradigm.
SICP was created to be an introductory computer science textbook back in the day when anybody who actually enrolled in a computer science course could reasonably be expected to be an absolute nerd. It's a book for teaching computer science to people who already have some amount of programming aptitude. It is not a book that tries to teach programming, to hand-hold students through learning practical applications. Yes, it's been shoehorned into many programming courses, but that's not the book's purpose.
HtDP is much better for teaching programming - it's a book that follows many of SICP's ideas, but doesn't presume any relevant experience on the part of the student. It's still not an ideal book for teaching practical programming to a student who doesn't care about any of the CS theory, though.
Whether we look at it as programming or computer science, it's abstract enough that it's highly personal and each person has their own idiosyncratic style of learning.
I did and would benefit much more from a book like SICP than books that are written into a more specific purpose.
It's easy to understand why recursion is useful when you are tasked with traversing a file system. It's not when the first example you are given is calculating Fibonacci sequence.
> One should not conclude from this that tree-recursive processes are useless. When we consider processes that operate on hierarchically structured data rather than numbers, we will find that tree recursion is a natural and powerful tool. But even in numerical operations, tree-recursive processes can be useful in helping us to understand and design programs. For instance, although the first fib procedure is much less efficient than the second one, it is more straightforward, being little more than a translation into Lisp of the definition of the Fibonacci sequence. To formulate the iterative algorithm required noticing that the computation could be recast as an iteration with three state variables.
Hopefully a professor in a course would make similar statements (I know mine did, repeatedly). And, at least in my early programming courses, we quickly (within a week or two) went on to those other problems where recursion was a natural and useful solution. The professors  introduced problems where recursion was either necessary (using for/while loops would be a non-trivial transformation with no performance gain) or, like naive Fibonacci, natural expressions of the problem.
 I transferred universities, not all courses lined up so I got to see the second school's introduction to this topic even though I was past that point academically. I was an unpaid TA (technically I guess I was paying to be the TA).
The very first exercise should be as simple as possible. Explicitly because you're introducing a new concept and so want as little else in the way as you can arrange.
However, the Fibonacci sequence provides good end to end example of recursion, then tail recursion/dynamic programming.
Recursion is hard for students to grasp when taught in math contexts as well, so I don't think this is a matter of prior CS teaching biasing them one way.
This can be interpreted two ways:
1. It really is an introductory text and, as the book says, recursion is a simple, powerful, familiar idea.
2. Times have changed.
I’m partial to interpretation #1
Another good easy to learn as a first language in my experience is Rebol because it allows you to do stuff you ( meaning a person who uses a computer) might want to do quickly (send emails, scrape websites)
Of course another benefit of SICP is that it is written by people who are probably better writers about languages than most of the programmers hired to write programming books and articles.
I'm not disagreeing with you as I write this, more pontificating on teaching styles... we all know recursion can get tricky / be hard to understand in the context of a programming language, but sometimes it's all in the presentation... if we tell the student right up front "hey, this is how we do this, no big deal right?" then perhaps they don't put up their natural defenses and make it into a harder concept than it really is?
This book looks good but I don't think I should start reading it, because I get the feeling it's going to let me want to create my own "powerful programming language" and be led down that (long, probably dark) rabbit hole.
There's an interactive version as well: https://xuanji.appspot.com/isicp/
While it certainly changed my life - first encounter with functional programming - and I will always appreciate it, it is now 23 years later and I think it is time to acknowledge some shortcomings.
The thing that comes to my mind first is the lack of any discussion pertaining to coding against interfaces, with components (and their interfaces) evolving over time.
Data abstraction gets discussed very early on, but the evolution of interfaces, its twin sister topic, does not get much air time. This is a pity since the goal of data abstraction (avoiding making assumptions on data representation) is pretty much the same, being able to change things later when the need arises.
Part d of the question is:
d. Suppose we change the representation of mobiles so that the constructors are
(define (make-mobile left right)
(cons left right))
(define (make-branch length structure)
(cons length structure))
How much do you need to change your programs to convert to the new representation?
It may not be discussed in depth - I suspect they decided it was out of scope for the book, but they were definitely thinking about it...
What bugged me more about that part is, that no code is given for running solutions to the exercises. I know there is a "framework" online somewhere, written in Racket, but it would be nice to have it in Scheme instead, in a very large part portable to many Scheme dialects.
Does anyone know of a good summary or alternate text of all the knowledge in it?
There is a certain depth that comes from teaching which you won't get any other way. You'll discover things you never thought about.
That's even true if you're teaching little kids arithmetic, if you do it well. You'll discover structures in the multiplication table you've never thought about.
Look at SICP not just for the CS component but for the pedagogical and writing components too. Analyzing this sort of book is one of the best ways to become a great teacher and writer.
Edit: Link - https://en.wikisource.org/wiki/Lambda_Papers
Did you try working the exercises? That was what kept me engaged with it.
Here is the link to the book:
Fun is important, and it seems all too easy to lose sight of that.
First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute.
Maxwell v. Kelvin: https://www.cambridge.org/core/books/fourier-analysis/ode-to...
Also available as epub: https://github.com/sarabander/sicp
Second post on the page.
more resources: https://bitbucket.org/Tetsumi/workspace/snippets/ke6jL4/sicp
I could program before studying at uni, but thanks to our two-term course Algortmics I+II at FAU Erlangen (part I based on SICP), it seems a fog that I wasn't even aware of cleared.
Volume 1 really works well if you also work through Concrete Mathematics (my professor and I started on Volume 1, diverted to CM, then back to Volume 1). CM provides enough additional math to get through chapter 1, where I was having a bit of trouble on some of the math heavy portions.
I actually started working through TAOCP one summer during a very boring sys admin job. I couldn't actually change the system to improve it, just complete whatever tasks were given to me and help customers. Maybe 1-3 hours a day of actual work effort. And in the pre-smart phone days, a book was easy to work through without distractions until the next ring of a phone call or ding of an email.
Then some Ruby/PHP/JS developers who have 5-10 years of coding experience tip their head at the book and say it's too hard or "only for senior people".
Unlike the gym, with intellectual pursuits the only thing you can injure when you fail is your ego. If you learn to let go you will realise how much you hamstring yourself with your own preconceptions in life.
">Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) is a computer science textbook by Massachusetts Institute of Technology professors Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman with Julie Sussman. It is known as the Wizard Book in hacker culture. It teaches fundamental principles of computer programming, including recursion, abstraction, modularity, and programming language design and implementation.
The MIT Press published the first edition in 1985, and the second edition in 1996. It was formerly used as the textbook for MIT's introductory course in electrical engineering and computer science. SICP focuses on discovering general patterns for solving specific problems, and building software systems that make use of those patterns.
The book describes computer science concepts using Scheme, a dialect of Lisp. It also uses a virtual register machine and assembler to implement Lisp interpreters and compilers.
Several fictional characters appear in the book:
Alyssa P. Hacker, a Lisp hacker
Ben Bitdiddle, a hardware expert
Cy D. Fect, a "reformed C programmer"
Eva Lu Ator, an evaluator
Lem E. Tweakit, an irate user
Louis Reasoner, a loose reasoner
The book was used as the textbook for MIT's former introductory programming course, 6.001. That course was replaced by 6.0001, which uses Python. Other schools also made use of the book as a course textbook. It is used as the textbook for MIT's Large Scale Symbolic Systems class, 6.945.
Byte recommended SICP "for professional programmers who are really interested in their profession". The magazine said that the book was not easy to read, but that it would expose experienced programmers to both old and new topics.
SICP has been influential in computer science education, and several later books have been inspired by its style."
I always thought "Alice P. Hacker" would be much better