Computer science has a reputation of being a discipline in a perpetual state of accelerated progress—a discipline in which our techniques, our hardware, our software systems, and our literature rarely exhibit a staying power of more than several years. While undeniably exciting, this state of continual intellectual upheaval can leave computer science students (and faculty) with a disturbing sense that there is no essential core of great work within the discipline. This paper describes a readings course entitled “Computer Science: the Canon ” whose purpose is to counter this perception by exploring a set of “great works ” in computer science. We describe our own (undoubtedly idiosyncratic) reading list used for the course, and discuss several central issues involved in offering such a course within a computer science curriculum
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