Unicode in the Curriculum?

Martin J. Dürst duerst at it.aoyama.ac.jp
Tue Jan 5 02:26:45 CST 2016

I agree to a certain extent with Julian. There are extremely many 
subjects industry surely would like computer science students to learn 
in college, and internationalization/Unicode is only one of them.

On the other hand, I think that universities teach about integer and 
floating point representation for numbers, and likewise, they should 
teach about ASCII and Unicode for text representation.

I personally have given a full course on internationalization/Unicode 
topics only once, as a guest lecturer at the University of Linz in the 
1990ies. In that same aera, I also once gave a course about computer 
topics for Japanology students, which of course included character 
encodings, but also complete beginner stuff such as use of Web search 

Otherwise, I integrate Unicode and internationalization subjects in my 
courses where possible. As an example, in my C programming course, 
there's an exercise where students use the same C program with different 
source encodings, execution encodings, and terminal settings, getting 
some understanding for character count vs. byte count, repertoire of 
different encodings, and so on. This kind of stuff is a bit easier to do 
here in Japan, where "ASCII isn't enough" doesn't have to be explained 
at great length, and where multiple encodings (mostly UTF-8 and 
Shift_JIS) are still in use.

Regards,   Martin.

On 2016/01/01 03:58, Julian Bradfield wrote:
> On 2015-12-31, Andre Schappo <A.Schappo at lboro.ac.uk> wrote:
>> I have been hitting my head against the Academic Brick Wall for
>> years WRT getting IT i18n and Unicode on the curriculum and I am
>> losing. I did teach a final year elective module on IT i18n but a
>> few months ago my University dropped it. I am continually puzzled by
>> the lack of interest University Computer Science departments have in
>> i18n. I appear to be a solitary UK University Computer Science voice
>> when it comes to i18n.
> Well, I'd say that it's not the business of Computer Science degrees
> to teach specific technical skills. It's our business to help people
> learn about the fundamentals of the subject, so that they can acquire
> any specific skill on demand, and use that skill competently. In those
> areas where we do teach specific skills (e.g. machine learning
> techniques) we teach those that have some intellectual content to
> them.  (This is why we don't teach programming languages as such - we
> teach a programming language as a means of learning a programming
> paradigm.)
> In my experience so far, using Unicode and doing i18n is not very
> interesting (killingly boring, actually) from a purely CS technical
> point of view, unless you happen to be one of the small minority who
> enjoys script and font layout issues - the interesting bits of doing
> i18n are in producing linguistically and culturally appropriate
> messages, and that's where one should bring in experts, not expect
> typical software developers to be able to do it.
> If you still have the materials for your course, it would be
> interesting to see how you managed to get an interesting (and
> examinable!) course out of i18n.
> I do in fact mention Unicode and i18n in my introductory programming
> course (which is not for CS students), but all I say is "you should
> know it's there, and if you become a competent programmer, then you
> can read the manuals and tutorials to learn what you need".

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