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Scheme as 1st language

I am soliciting the community's views  regarding the choice of Scheme as
the  first programming  language to  be taught  to students  majoring in
Computer Science.

The Department  of Computer Science at  University College Cork, Ireland
is undertaking  a major restructuring  of its Honours  Degree program in
the Faculties of Arts and of Science and the question has arisen whether
or not the  time given to Pascal would be  better utilized in some other
way, such as  algorithm design and analysis, for  instance. We presently
teach the full standard Pascal to our first-year students in a course of
52 lectures  over 26 weeks, plus  the usual tutorial/practical sessions.
There is also a 1 hour per  week course of lectures on non-Pascal intro-
ductory Computer Science topics.

I would be interested to receive views on the what the first programming
language should be, and  to learn of the experiences---good  or bad---of
those who have switched away from Pascal to something else.

We  presently  use  Scheme  extensively  in  our  'Data  Structures' and
'Compiler Theory and Practice' courses  with great success, the students
being largely  self-taught Scheme through Friedman  and Felleisen's 'The
Little LISPer'. It  is seeing how much quicker  students can understand,
analyze, and undertake proofs of  correctness of the relevant algorithms
expressed in Scheme that prompts the consideration of using some form of
small non-trivial functional programming language at an earlier stage in
their education.

I consider  that the  fundamentals of  algorithm design  and programming
style should be  taught with the minimum of  syntactic baggage, and only
then should a  study of alternative programming languages  and styles be
undertaken---but what are your views, please?

G. Oulsnam.