Introduction to Programming
In this lesson you will learn how to write computer programs in stages.
The first stage will be to think about what you need to do.
In the next stage you will write what you want the program to do in pseudocode.
pseudo adj. 1: being apparently rather than actually as stated. ( Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary ) Pseudocode (derived from pseudo and code) is a description of a computer programming algorithm that uses the structural conventions of programming languages, but omits detailed subroutines or language-specific syntax. ( WikipediA )A third stage is the conversion of the pseudocode into properly formed instructions that are available in the programming language you are using, Logo in our case.
As you are about to see, an experienced programmer would think about how to solve the problem before she would start typing in instructions. An experienced programmer would break the problem into pieces that each are simple to do by themselves. Then, put all the pieces together to solve the problem.
Let's play "experienced programmer" with the first exercise.
You need to get the turtle to:
- OR -
- OR -
This is hard to describe; so, I'm choosing not to go any further with it. But, it is a way of looking at the problem.
This completes the "Understanding the Problem" phase.
The next phase is "Devising a Plan" - how do you get the turtle to draw the things you've identified.
Let's follow our experienced programmer's thoughts through the rest of a solution. She has chosen to draw a square (a special kind of rectangle) and subdivide it.
The first step: figure out how many turtle steps each side of the square needs to be. Since it will be split in half and into thirds, she needs a length that is a multiple of 2 and 3. She likes nice round numbers so she makes each side of the square 120 turtle steps (120/2=60; 120/3=40). As you can see, it's nice to know a little bit of math when you're programming.
With this decided, she first writes her program down on paper in pseudocode.
1. draw a square 2. draw the vertical line that splits the square in half 3. draw the top horizontal line spliting the right half 4. draw the bottom horizontal line spliting the right half 5. make the turtle invisiblePseudocode is a term for describing something in your native language. Her pseudocode is English descriptions of what she wants her program to do. Once this is complete and she is convinced that her plan should produce what she wants, it's time for the next phase: converting the pseudocode into Logo instructions.
(Written on Paper)
| Logo Instructions
(Typed on Computer)
|draw a square||fd 120 rt 90 fd 120 rt 90 fd 120 rt 90 fd 120|
|draw the vertical line that splits the square in half||bk 60 rt 90 fd 120|
|draw the top horizontal line spliting the right half||bk 40 rt 90 fd 60 bk 60 lt 90|
|draw the bottom horizontal line spliting the right half||bk 40 rt 90 fd 60|
|make the turtle invisible||ht|
Our experienced programmer brings up the TG Applet in a browser on her computer. TG understands the Logo programming language; it contains a Logo interpreter.
She reads her pseudocode notes (converting them to Logo instructions in her head) and types them into the CommandCenter. As each line is [Enter]-ed she watches the turtle do exactly what's expected.
I was taught to program in this manner 36 years ago. But, my interaction with a computer consisted of getting a little bit of time on a computer I shared with hundreds of others. So, use of paper and a pencil for writing programs was important. But, now everyone has their own computer... Let's take advantage of this and eliminate the use of paper and pencil.
You will do this via TG's editor.
The editor is available via the Window->Editor->Open menu item. In the application, the menu system is readily available via the standard, pull-down stripe across the top. To access the menu system in the applet, position the mouse in the applet and hold down the right mouse button. Position the mouse over the "Window" menu item to bring up its submenu, choose the "Editor" submenu, and finally choose its "Open" option. Figure 3.1 shows this.
Figure 3.2 shows the result, an editor subwindow is now below the CommandCenter, at the bottom of the applet.
At this point, the height of the subwindows can be adjusted by positioning the mouse over one of the name stripes, holding down the left mouse button, and dragging the name stripe up or down. Since we are going to be using the editor, make it a bit taller; first drag the CommandCenter name stripe up, then drag the Editor name stripe up.
So, for "Devising a Plan" we need to enter the pseudocode representation of the program. Well, this is a problem. Logo doesn't understand pseudocode and it and will complain if we type it in. We solve this problem by entering the pseudocode as comments. Comments in Logo start with the semicolon (";") character and go through the end of the line. Comments are intended to be read by humans and are ignored by Logo.
Figure 3.3 shows the TG applet after the pseudocode from the previous exercise has been entered into the editor.
Now we are ready for the "Carrying Out the Plan" stage. Under each comment, we convert the pseudocode into the appropriate Logo instructions.
Figure 3.4 shows the TG applet after the Logo instructions have been added.
So, unlike when we entered Logo instructions into the CommandCenter, nothing has been happening while we enter stuff in the Editor. How to we get the Logo interpreter to do what's in the Editor?
You use the Interpret -> Editor Contents menu item. Figure 3.5 shows me doing this - after I resized the Editor and CommandCenter subwindows near their minimum sizes.
And finally, Figure 3.6 show the results, our set of boxes drawn exactly as expected...
Although it's not the most attractive house, it is easy to draw with the turtle. Make the front of the house a square with each side 100 turtle steps. Make the roof an equilateral triangle, with each side 100 turtle steps. Make the door 50 turtle steps high and 25 turtle steps wide. Make the window a square, 25 turtle steps on each side.
First, write pseudocode for how you will go about drawing the house and then convert this to Logo instructions. If you prefer paper and pencil, do it this way. If you prefer to type stuff into TG's editor, here's the applet.
One BIG thing we learned in this lesson was how to write a program
I've saved the fourth step for this summary, it's:
1. Understanding the Problem
2. Devising a Plan
3. Carrying out the Plan
These are the first three of George Polya's four steps to solving
mathematical problems. Dr. Polya wrote a very good book called
How to Solve It which explains his methodology.
4. Looking Back
How appropriate. Think about how you went about drawing the house.
What was the hardest part? If it didn't work the first time,
what was the mistake, or mistakes? Can you think of any way to do
your next project so that you don't make the same mistake(s) again?
One BIG thing we learned in this lesson was how to write a program in phases:
I've saved the fourth step for this summary, it's: