CMU software streamlines computer programming

Carnegie Mellon University has released an updated version of its popular animation-based software program “Alice,” developed by the late “last lecture” professor Randy Pausch to teach computer programming. Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and pioneer of virtual reality research, died at age 47 of pancreatic cancer last year, 10 months after giving his “last lecture” about facing death that became an internet sensation and spawned a best-selling book. Alice 3, the software’s latest version, is designed to teach programming using a “drag and drop” interface to create 3-D animations. Intended to serve as an introductory programming course for school-aged children, the free program also lets advanced users create programs in the Java programming language. Users can select hundreds of character objects and scenes from the popular video game “The Sims” to make and control virtual worlds. Alice “dispels the impression that computer programming is all about arcane notations and requires years of training before it becomes possible to create interesting results,” Randal Bryant, dean of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, said in a statement.

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