Harold Abelson

Harold Abelson is Class of 1922 Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at MIT.

  • Computational Thinking Education in K–12

    Artificial Intelligence Literacy and Physical Computing

    Siu-Cheung Kong and Harold Abelson

    A guide to computational thinking education, with a focus on artificial intelligence literacy and the integration of computing and physical objects.

    Computing has become an essential part of today's primary and secondary school curricula. In recent years, K–12 computer education has shifted from computer science itself to the broader perspective of computational thinking (CT), which is less about technology than a way of thinking and solving problems—“a fundamental skill for everyone, not just computer scientists,” in the words of Jeanette Wing, author of a foundational article on CT. This volume introduces a variety of approaches to CT in K–12 education, offering a wide range of international perspectives that focus on artificial intelligence (AI) literacy and the integration of computing and physical objects.

    The book first offers an overview of CT and its importance in K–12 education, covering such topics as the rationale for teaching CT; programming as a general problem-solving skill; and the “phenomenon-based learning” approach. It then addresses the educational implications of the explosion in AI research, discussing, among other things, the importance of teaching children to be conscientious designers and consumers of AI. Finally, the book examines the increasing influence of physical devices in CT education, considering the learning opportunities offered by robotics.


    Harold Abelson, Cynthia Breazeal, Karen Brennan, Michael E. Caspersen, Christian Dindler, Daniella DiPaola, Nardie Fanchamps, Christina Gardner-McCune, Mark Guzdial, Kai Hakkarainen, Fredrik Heintz, Paul Hennissen, H. Ulrich Hoppe, Ole Sejer Iversen, Siu-Cheung Kong, Wai-Ying Kwok, Sven Manske, Jesús Moreno-León, Blakeley H. Payne, Sini Riikonen, Gregorio Robles, Marcos Román-González, Pirita Seitamaa-Hakkarainen, Ju-Ling Shih, Pasi Silander, Lou Slangen, Rachel Charlotte Smith, Marcus Specht, Florence R. Sullivan, David S. Touretzky

    • Paperback $60.00
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs

    JavaScript Edition

    Harold Abelson, Gerald Jay Sussman, Martin Henz, and Tobias Wrigstad

    A new version of the classic and widely used text adapted for the JavaScript programming language.

    Since the publication of its first edition in 1984 and its second edition in 1996, Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs (SICP) has influenced computer science curricula around the world. Widely adopted as a textbook, the book has its origins in a popular entry-level computer science course taught by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman at MIT. SICP introduces the reader to central ideas of computation by establishing a series of mental models for computation. Earlier editions used the programming language Scheme in their program examples. This edition has been adapted for JavaScript.

    The first three chapters of SICP cover programming concepts that are common to all modern high-level programming languages. Chapters four and five, which used Scheme to formulate language processors for Scheme, required significant revision. Chapter four offers new material, in particular an introduction to the notion of program parsing. The evaluator and compiler in chapter five introduce a subtle stack discipline to support return statements (a prominent feature of statement-oriented languages) without sacrificing tail recursion.

    The JavaScript programs included in the book run in any implementation of the language that complies with the ECMAScript 2020 specification, using the JavaScript package sicp provided by the MIT Press website.

    • Paperback $55.00
  • Architects of the Information Society

    Architects of the Information Society

    Thirty-Five Years of the Laboratory for Computer Science at MIT

    Simson L. Garfinkel and Harold Abelson

    This book, published in celebration of the 35th anniversary of MIT's LCS, chronicles its history, achievements, and continued importance to computer science.

    The Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Laboratory for Computer Science (LCS) has been responsible for some of the most significant technological achievements of the past few decades. Much of the hardware and software driving the information revolution has been, and continues to be, created at LCS. Anyone who sends and receives email, communicates with colleagues through a LAN, surfs the Web, or makes decisions using a spreadsheet is benefiting from the creativity of LCS members.LCS is an interdepartmental laboratory that brings together faculty, researchers, and students in a broad program of study, research, and experimentation. Their principal goal is to pursue innovations in information technology that will improve people's lives. LCS members have been instrumental in the development of ARPAnet, the Internet, the Web, Ethernet, time-shared computers, UNIX, RSA encryption, the X Windows system, NuBus, and many other technologies.This book, published in celebration of LCS's thirty-fifth anniversary, chronicles its history, achievements, and continued importance to computer science. The essays are complemented by historical photographs.

    • Hardcover $28.00
    • Paperback $30.00
  • Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Second Edition

    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Second Edition

    Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman

    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs has had a dramatic impact on computer science curricula over the past decade. This long-awaited revision contains changes throughout the text. There are new implementations of most of the major programming systems in the book, including the interpreters and compilers, and the authors have incorporated many small changes that reflect their experience teaching the course at MIT since the first edition was published. A new theme has been introduced that emphasizes the central role played by different approaches to dealing with time in computational models: objects with state, concurrent programming, functional programming and lazy evaluation, and nondeterministic programming. There are new example sections on higher-order procedures in graphics and on applications of stream processing in numerical programming, and many new exercises. In addition, all the programs have been reworked to run in any Scheme implementation that adheres to the IEEE standard.

    • Hardcover $86.00
    • Paperback $55.00
  • Logo for the Macintosh

    Logo for the Macintosh

    An Introduction through Object Logo

    Harold Abelson and Amanda Abelson

    This classic guide teaches the art of programming to first time programmers.

    Logo for the Macintosh teaches the art of programming to first time programmers. It begins with Turtle Geometry, a series of exercises involving both Logo programming and geometric concepts. Later chapters illustrate more advanced topics, such as the famous DOCTOR program with its simulated psychotherapist and an INSTANT program that enables parents and teachers to create a programming environment for preschool children. A chapter is devoted to the topic of object-oriented programming, a key feature of the Object Logo implementation of Logo. Logo for the Macintosh is written primarily for use with Object Logo, a powerful implementation of the Logo language that greatly enhances its speed, capabilities, and overall usability in education and beyond. The book may also be used with other versions of Logo for the Macintosh.

    • Paperback $30.00
  • Logo for the Macintosh, Software Edition

    An Introduction through Object Logo

    Harold Abelson and Amanda Abelson

    Offers both first-time and seasoned programmers an ideal environment for developing math and general problem solving skills, combining the educational philosophy of Logo and the power of object-oriented programming.

    The software edition of Logo for the Macintosh teaches a computer programming language suitable for students ages 11 and older. It offers both first-time and seasoned programmers an ideal environment for developing math and general problem solving skills, combining the educational philosophy of Logo and the power of object-oriented programming. It is accompanied by a new comprehensive tutorial that encourages explorations in geometry, mathematics, language, and object-oriented programming. System requirements: Macintosh Plus computer or greater with at least 1 megabyte RAM (2 megabytes recommended) and system 6.0.4 or later. Compatible with System 7 with 24-bit addressing.

    • Paperback $15.75
  • Turtle Geometry

    Turtle Geometry

    The Computer as a Medium for Exploring Mathematics

    Harold Abelson and Andrea diSessa

    The open access edition of this book was made possible by generous funding from Arcadia – a charitable fund of Lisbet Rausing and Peter Baldwin.

    Turtle Geometry presents an innovative program of mathematical discovery that demonstrates how the effective use of personal computers can profoundly change the nature of a student's contact with mathematics. Using this book and a few simple computer programs, students can explore the properties of space by following an imaginary turtle across the screen. The concept of turtle geometry grew out of the Logo Group at MIT. Directed by Seymour Papert, author of Mindstorms, this group has done extensive work with preschool children, high school students and university undergraduates.

    • Hardcover $75.00
    • Paperback $45.00


  • Inventive Minds

    Inventive Minds

    Marvin Minsky on Education

    Marvin Minsky, Cynthia Solomon, and Xiao Xiao

    Six essays by artificial intelligence pioneer Marvin Minsky on how education can foster inventiveness, paired with commentary by Minsky's former colleagues and students.

    Marvin Minsky was a pioneering researcher in artificial intelligence whose work led to both theoretical and practical advances. His work was motivated not only by technological advancement but also by the desire to understand the workings of our own minds. Minsky's insights about the mind provide fresh perspectives on education and how children learn. This book collects for the first time six essays by Minsky on children, learning, and the potential of computers in school to enrich children's development. In these essays Minsky discusses the shortcomings of conventional education (particularly in mathematics) and considers alternative approaches; reflects on the role of mentors; describes higher-level strategies for thinking across domains; and suggests projects for children to pursue. Each essay is paired with commentary by one of Minsky's former colleagues or students, which identifies Minsky's key ideas and connects his writings to current research. Minsky once observed that in traditional teaching, “instead of promoting inventiveness, we focus on preventing mistakes.” These essays offer Minsky's unique insights into how education can foster inventiveness.

    Commentary by Hal Abelson, Walter Bender, Alan Kay, Margaret Minsky, Brian Silverman, Gary Stager, Mike Travers, Patrick Henry Winston

    • Hardcover $30.00
  • Is the Universe a Hologram?

    Is the Universe a Hologram?

    Scientists Answer the Most Provocative Questions

    Adolfo Plasencia

    Questions about the physical world, the mind, and technology in conversations that reveal a rich seam of interacting ideas.

    Science today is more a process of collaboration than moments of individual “eurekas.” This book recreates that kind of synergy by offering a series of interconnected dialogues with leading scientists who are asked to reflect on key questions and concepts about the physical world, technology, and the mind. These thinkers offer both specific observations and broader comments about the intellectual traditions that inform these questions; doing so, they reveal a rich seam of interacting ideas.

    The persistent paradox of our era is that in a world of unprecedented access to information, many of the most important questions remain unsolved. These conversations (conducted by a veteran science writer, Adolfo Plasencia) reflect this, with scientists addressing such issues as intelligence, consciousness, global warming, energy, technology, matter, the possibility of another earth, changing the past, and even the philosophical curveball, “is the universe a hologram?”

    The dialogues discuss such fascinating aspects of the physical world as the function of the quantum bit, the primordial cosmology of the universe, and the wisdom of hewn stones. They offer optimistic but reasoned views of technology, considering convergence culture, algorithms, “Beauty ≠ Truth,” the hacker ethic, AI, and other topics. And they offer perspectives from a range of disciplines on intelligence, discussing subjects that include the neurophysiology of the brain, affective computing, collaborative innovation, and the wisdom of crowds.

    Conversations withHal Abelson, Ricardo Baeza-Yates, John Perry Barlow, Javier Benedicto, José Bernabéu, Michail Bletsas, Jose M. Carmena, David Casacuberta, Yung Ho Chang, Ignacio Cirac, Gianluigi Colalucci, Avelino Corma, Bernardo Cuenca Grau, Javier Echeverria, José Hernández-Orallo, Hiroshi Ishii, Pablo Jarillo-Herrero, Henry Jenkins, Anne Margulies, Mario J. Molina, Tim O'Reilly, John Ochsendorf, Paul Osterman, Alvaro Pascual-Leone, Rosalind W. Picard, Howard Rheingold, Alejandro W. Rodriguez, Israel Ruiz, Sara Seager, Richard Stallman, Antonio Torralba, Bebo White, José María Yturralde

    • Hardcover $30.00
    • Paperback $19.95
  • World Wide Research

    World Wide Research

    Reshaping the Sciences and Humanities

    William H. Dutton and Paul W. Jeffreys

    Experts examine ways in which the use of increasingly powerful and versatile digital information and communication technologies are transforming research activities across all disciplines.

    Advances in information and communication technology are transforming the way scholarly research is conducted across all disciplines. The use of increasingly powerful and versatile computer-based and networked systems promises to change research activity as profoundly as the mobile phone, the Internet, and email have changed everyday life. This book offers a comprehensive and accessible view of the use of these new approaches—called “e-Research”—and their ethical, legal, and institutional implications. The contributors, leading scholars from a range of disciplines, focus on how e-Research is reshaping not only how research is done but also, and more important, its outcomes. By anchoring their discussion in specific examples and case studies, they identify and analyze a promising set of practical developments and results associated with e-Research innovations. The contributors, who include Geoffrey Bowker, Christine Borgman, Paul Edwards, Tim Berners-Lee, and Hal Abelson, explain why and how e-Research activity can reconfigure access to networks of information, expertise, and experience, changing what researchers observe, with whom they collaborate, how they share information, what methods they use to report their findings, and what knowledge is required to do this. They discuss both the means of e-Research (new research-centered computational networks) and its purpose (to improve the quality of world-wide research).

    • Hardcover $14.75
    • Paperback $35.00
  • Instructor's Manual t/a Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Second Edition

    Instructor's Manual t/a Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, Second Edition

    Julie Sussman

    This instructor's manual and reader's guide accompanies the secondedition of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs,by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman with Julie Sussman.

    This instructor's manual and reader's guide accompanies the second edition of Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs, by Harold Abelson and Gerald Jay Sussman with Julie Sussman. It contains discussions of exercises and other material in the text as well as supplementary material, additional examples and exercises, and teaching suggestions. An appendix summarizes the Scheme programming language as used in the text, showing at what point in the text each element of Scheme is introduced.

    • Paperback $35.00