Chapter 1

Overview: The Mental Landscape

WHEN YOU BEGIN a journey, it's a good idea to have a mental map of the terrain you'll be passing through. The same is true for an intellectual journey, such as learning to write computer programs. In this case, you'll need to know the basics of what computers are and how they work. You'll want to have some idea of what a computer program is and how one is created. Since you will be writing programs in the Java programming language, you'll want to know something about that language in particular and about the modern, "networked" computing environment for which Java is designed.

As you read this chapter, don't worry if you can't understand everything in detail. (In fact, it would be impossible for you to learn many details from the brief expositions in this chapter.) Concentrate on learning enough about the big ideas to orient yourself, in preparation for the rest of the course. Most of what is covered in this chapter will be covered in much greater detail later in the course. And remember that these notes are only one of your resources; what you read here will be supplemented and complemented by what you learn in class, in lab, and from other on-line resources.

Sections in Chapter 1:

  1. The Fetch-and-Execute Cycle: Machine Language
  2. Asynchronous Events: Polling Loops and Interrupts
  3. The Java Virtual Machine
  4. Fundamental Building Blocks of Programs
  5. Objects and Object-oriented Programming
  6. The Modern User Interface
  7. The Internet and World-Wide Web
  8. Why Java? Why not C++?

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