Computational Thinking


February 9, 2015


Jeannette Wing


My vision for the 21st Century: Computational thinking will be a fundamental skill used by everyone in the world. To reading, writing, and arithmetic, we should add computational thinking to every child’s analytical ability. Computational thinking involves solving problems, designing systems, and understanding human behavior by drawing on the concepts that are fundamental to computer science. Thinking like a computer scientist means more than being able to program a computer. It requires the ability to abstract and thus to think at multiple levels of abstraction.

Computational thinking has already influenced many disciplines, from the sciences to the arts. In my talk, I will give a few examples from Microsoft Research of how computational thinking is changing the way research is conducted in different disciplines and helping to address societal issues. Computational thinking is also changing what we teach in colleges and universities today. I will speak about some recent educational efforts in the United States, the United Kingdom, China, and India on adopting computational thinking in education, especially at the K-12 level. Computational thinking can not only inspire future generations to enter the field of computer science-it can also benefit people in all fields.


Jeannette Wing

Jeannette Wing has recently joined Microsoft Research as Vice President and Head of Microsoft Research International, with responsibilities for laboratories in India, China, and England. She was on the faculty at Carnegie Mellon (1985-2012), where she twice served as Head of the Computer Science Department and as Associate Dean for Academic Affairs; and at the University of Southern California (1983-1985). From 2007 to 2010 she was Assistant Director of the Computer and Information Science and Engineering Directorate at the National Science Foundation.

Her research focuses on the foundations of trustworthy computing, in particular on the science of security and privacy. Except for when she was at NSF, she was on Microsoft’s Trustworthy Computing Academic Advisory Board since its inception in 2003. She promotes a vision that computational thinking—an approach to problem solving, designing systems and understanding human behavior that draws upon concepts fundamental to computer science—can transform the conduct of all disciplines. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, the AAAS, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers.


  • Portrait of Jeannette Wing

    Jeannette Wing

    Corporate Vice President, Microsoft Research