Computers in Academia
- Communication: email, newsgroups
- Accessing information: the World-Wide Web
The WWW provides (1) an easy way to access information which
is available in different formats on different kinds of machines.
It also enables information of different types (text, graphics,
sound, animation) to be displayed.
The WWW is accessed using a program called a browser.
The browser we will use in this course is Netscape.
- Word processing
- Scientific computation
Scientists use computers to perform calculations that they could
not do by hand.
There are many programs available for doing this.
In particular, there is special software for doing statistical
analyses of the results of an experiment.
In order to understand the problems they are dealing with,
scientists often need to be able to visualize the problems in a novel way.
Plotting a function is a simple example.
Computer graphics permits very sophisticated visualization
- Running experiments
Computer programs are often completely in charge of the
administration of experiments: presenting stimuli to subjects,
recording subjects' responses, and analyzing the results.
- Computer modeling
A model of some phenomenon in nature, that is, a kind
of explanation for the phenomenon works, may be tested with a
The model is implemented (realized, made concrete)
in the program.
Then the model can be tested by running the program starting
with inputs which are similar to those found in nature and observing
whether it behaves like the natural phenomenon actually does.
If so, this is evidence that the model may be right.
We will see several examples of models in the class.