Courses That I Teach
Spring 2019, January 22 to May 13
Here is a list of courses I have taught, including syllabi from many past terms.
And here is a complete list
of all the Honors projects and Independent Studies
that I have supervised over my years at Hobart and William Smith Colleges.
Free On-Line Java Text
The first programming course at Hobart and William Smith Colleges covers the Java programming language. Since we started teaching Java in 1996, the textbook for the course has been various versions of a free on-line Java textbook that I wrote for the course. The most recent version is Introduction to Programming Using Java, Version 8.0, which requires Java 8 or higher and JavaFX for graphical programming. It is available at
The previous version, which covers Java 7 and uses Swing for graphical programming, is still available at
Older versions of the book are also available; see the Preface to the 8th edition for links.
The textbook is an introduction to programming and also an introduction to Java directed towards people who do not have any background in programming. You can use it on-line or download a copy for use on your own computer. PDF and print version are also available. Links can be found at the bottoms of the front web pages for Version 7 and Version 8.
Free Computer Graphics Textbook
An introductory computer graphics textbook, available for use on-line. There are also links on the front page for downloading the web-site version or a PDF version. This book was used in my Computer Graphics course in Fall 2015 and in Fall 2017.
Here are direct links to some of the more interesting examples:
- Genetic Algorithms Demo: Demonstrates the Genetic Algorithm by showing how some simple simulated organisms evolve over a series of generations.
- Mandelbrot Viewer: Explore the famous Mandelbrot set, and make some amazing pictures!
- Pentominos Puzzle Solver: Solves pentominos puzzles, which involve placing twelve pieces of various shapes on a board. Fun to watch.
- Wallpaper Groups: Draw symmetric patterns in the plane, where the symmetry is given by one of the seventeen wallpaper groups.
- xSortLab: Learn about five sorting algorithms and compare their run times.
- Turing Machine Simulation: Create and run simulated Turing machines.
The Mandelbrot set, in particular, is amazing. There is a large collection of images that are visualizations of pieces of that set. Click on any of the small images on that page to load that example into the Mandelbrot Viewer, where you can see a larger version of the image and explore it further.
Free CS Theory Textbook
CPSC 229: Foundations of Computer Science is an introductory course in theoretical computer science. It is a required course in the Computer Science major. For several years, the textbook in this course has been a set of notes written by Professors Carol Critchlow and me. This set of notes is now available for reading on-line or for downloading, at no charge. For more information and links to the PDF version of the book, see:
(A printed textbook can be ordered for the cost of reproduction from lulu.com.)
I am one of the programmers working on 3D-XplorMath-J, program for math visualization. It is a version written in the Java programming language of an older program, 3D-XplorMath, that only runs on Apple Mac OS computers. The program offers visualizations of plane curves, space curves, surfaces, fractals, and differential equations, with animations and "anaglyph" stereo viewing of 3D objects. The program is free and can be downloaded from its web site, or it can be sampled on-line as a collection of applets. (To use either the program or the applets, your computer must have Java version 5.0 or higher.)
The Most Complex Machine
My introductory computer science textbook, The Most Complex Machine, was published in July, 1995. The book surveys most of the major areas of computer science, and is suitable as a textbook for a first course in computer science. It is also suitable for self-study. A review of in the April '96 issue of CHOICE magazine says that it is "Strongly recommended as a foundation for guided self-study for gifted high-school students, as well as non-computing majors." You can read more about it here. A set of applets and labs for use with the text is freely available on-line.
This book is now quite old, and I really don't understand why the publisher has kept it in print. However, it is not so out-of-date as most computer books published in the 1990s. The applets, written in an old version of Java, are not as attractive as they could be, but some of them are still useful. In particular:
- xSortLab -- A visual demonstration of several sorting algorithms.
- xTuringMachine -- A Turing Machine simulator.
- xLogicCircuits -- Create and run simulated circuits made from AND, OR, and NOT gates.
- xComputer -- Simulates a complete, simple computer that is programmable in assembly language.
The source code for the applets can be downloaded from this page. You can also get .jar files for running the applets as stand-alone programs.
Unfortunately, Java applets have themselves become old-fashioned and unusable in most web browsers. I have written is a modern HTML 5 version of xSortLab that runs in a web browser. And a similar HTML 5 version of xTuringMachine.
"The Innocent Eye Test" by Mark Tansey (1981)