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Is Computational Thinking the Same as Coding?

The terms ‘coding’ and ‘computational thinking,’ each of which has garnered acute popularity in recent years in the tech world, are often interlinked with each other. This raises the crucial question as to whether there is any difference between the two mechanisms, after all. In order to resolve this ambiguity, it is essential to analyze and assess what each of these processes entails.

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What is computational thinking?

The term computational thinking was employed for the first time in an article written by Jeannette Wing in the year 2006. As per Wing’s very own definition, “computational thinking is the thought process involved in formulating a problem and expressing its solution(s) in such a way that a computer-human or machine can effectively carry out.” Several scientists including Wing are of the opinion that computational thinking is a fundamental skill that is crucial even the most basic tasks in our day-to-day lives.

How does computational thinking work?

To begin with, computational thinking is a problem-solving mechanism that is used to analyze and assess available data so as to understand a problem. To put it in simple terms, the work of a computational thinker is to break down a complicated procedure into multiple simple steps that are easy, in due course. The process also entails recognition of patterns, formation of algorithms, and development of models so as to reach a subsequent solution.

In order to understand how the process works, let us look at an example. For instance, the idea of making scrambled eggs for breakfast might seem like an uncomplicated activity. However, in reality, this process is an amalgamation of several simple steps put together. For starters, you will be requiring eggs and a pan as the chief ingredients. You will have to turn on the oven at an optimum temperature, allow it to pre-heat, add the eggs at a suitable time, and so on and so forth. You will be able to obtain your desired result of having delicious scrambled eggs for breakfast only if you do not miss out on any of these fundamental steps.

The verdict – coding vs computational thinking

While the two terms are often used synonymously, it is essential to understand that coding entails the basic translation of logic or rationales into a programming language. Computational thinking, on the other hand, can be conceived as a step prior to that of coding. It is an understanding of a given problem and its subsequent decomposition into simplified and precise steps so that it is easier for computers to grasp the task and provide the required solutions. The term, therefore, does not designate thinking like computers but rather a process of thinking that aids the function of computers altogether to contribute to the ultimate objective of problem-solving.

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As per recent studies and experiments, computational thinking is a functional skill that everyone must possess in order to develop their critical acumen and solve problems with relative ease. The efficacy of this particular process makes this a sought-after-skill across diverse sectors that will allow individuals to harness remarkable opportunities and function potently, as and when required.

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