6.00 to be replaced by new 6.0001 and 6.0002

Classes will be taught by Professor Guttag, change to take effect in upcoming fall term

Two new classes will be introduced during the 2014-2015 academic year that will replace 6.00 (Introduction to Computer Science and Programming) and cover its entire curriculum. 6.00 is currently required for Course 9 and Course 20 majors.

6.0001 and 6.0002 are meant to cover the same material as 6.00 in a more flexible and accessible way for students with varying amounts of programming experience, according to Professor John V. Guttag, who developed the new classes.

6.0001 and 6.0002 are both six-credit half-semester classes, and taking both will count as taking one REST subject.

6.0001 is Introduction to Computer Science Programming in Python, which is designed to help students with little or no programming experience develop programming skills and use computational techniques to solve problems. 6.0002 is Introduction to Computational Thinking and Data Science, which builds on the concepts learned in 6.0001 by introducing more complicated topics in programming and computational thinking.

Guttag, who also developed 6.00 in 2005, had been considering making this change for over a year. The primary goal of splitting 6.00 into two classes, he said in an interview with The Tech, was to make it more accessible for freshmen in their first fall and spring semesters. The freshman credit limit is 54 credits in the fall and 57 credits in the spring, which prevents most freshmen from taking more than four 12-unit classes in one semester.

The credit limit also makes it difficult for freshmen to explore classes in the specific fields that they are interested in, Guttag said, particularly in engineering and computer science. By turning an introductory computer science course into two 6-unit classes, it is now possible for freshmen to take one half of the course each semester of their first year at MIT while also taking four 12-unit classes.

“A lot of what freshman year should be about is choosing a major,” said Guttag. Now that freshmen will have the option of taking 6.0001 in their fall semester, he said, they will be given the opportunity early on to see whether or not they are interested in computer science.

There will now be two different entry points into the 6.00 curriculum as a result of its split into 6.0001 and 6.0002. “People enter MIT with very different exposures to programming and computing,” Guttag said. Students with more programming experience will be able to test out of 6.0001 and go straight into the more advanced 6.0002.

This move is meant to add flexibility to allow all students to be able to spread the classes across semesters as needed, or only take the second half if they have the experience required. Students may still, however, take both classes back-to-back in one semester and still learn the material equivalent to what was originally taught in 6.00.

Professor Guttag has already tested the idea of separating 6.00 into two classes by doing so with the MITx version of the course. So far, he has been pleased with the results. He will be teaching both 6.0001 and 6.0002 over the next two years in order to evaluate general responses to the change from students.

After the preliminary experimental period, the department may offer different flavors of 6.0002 to be tailored to students’ specific interests. This scenario would offer problem sets and projects that align with topics in other fields such as biology or aeronautics depending on which version of the class students take.

6.0001 and 6.0002 are now the classes that have the most digits after a decimal of any offered by MIT. They will be offered to all undergraduates starting next semester.