Carnegie Mellon University
April 14, 2011

News Brief: Computational Thinking is Fundamental

Jeannette Wing"Thinking like a computer scientist means more than being able to program a computer," said Jeannette M. Wing,  the President's Professor of Computer Science and head of the Computer Science Department at Carnegie Mellon, during her presentation in the Computer Science Distinguished Lecture Series at Carnegie Mellon in Qatar.   
"Computational thinking is a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world, and should be incorporated into educational programs along with reading, writing and arithmetic to grow every child's analytical ability." 
Wing, an internationally recognized leader and expert in computer science, was discussing her global vision and what she sees as important in the 21st century in front of a crowded audience of students, academics, alumni and other VIP guests.  In her lecture, titled "Computational Thinking", she emphasized the importance of computational thinking and its positive impact on future generations. 
Skills that are used every day — such as planning, learning, scheduling, searching, making trade-offs — all come into play with computational thinking. From deciding which line to stand in at the supermarket to sequencing the human genome, from air traffic control to the discovery and development of anti-inflammatory drugs — computational thinking comes in to play.
"Teaching computational thinking can not only inspire future generations to enter the field of computer science because of its intellectual adventure, but will benefit people in all fields," Wing said.
"Everyone is able to learn concepts of computational thinking and we should be taking advantage of the tech-savvy generation in order to teach more about computer science. We should try to teach the younger generation the reasons behind new technology."
Wing has received numerous awards and recognition for her work with respect to computational thinking and education. She was assistant director of the National Science Foundation's Computer and Information Science and Engineering directorate (NSF), and was recently elected as a member of the Computer Research Association's (CRA) board of directors.
Wing's involvement in major NSF programs including those focused on discovery and innovation, trustworthy computing and data-intensive computing, has helped push the boundaries of research in computing science, and has been cited as a critical dimension of America's innovation economy.

For more on Wing's talk and CMU's Computer Science Department in Qatar and Pittsburgh, go to

Pictured above is Jeannette Wing speaking at Carnegie Mellon's campus in Qatar.

Lauren Ashford