Computer Science 39K: IT (Information Technology) Goes to War!

Professor Randy H. Katz
Computer Science Division
Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Department
University of California, Berkeley
Berkeley, California 94720-1776

Course Description

Necessity drives invention. In this seminar, we will examine the interwined historical development of information technology, broadly defined as computing, communications, and signal processing, in the 20th Century within the context of modern warfare and national defense. Topics include: cryptography/cryptanalysis and the development of the computer; command and control systems and the development of the Internet; the war of attrition and the development of the mathematics of operations research; military communications and the development of the cellular telephone system; precision munitions and the development of the Global Positioning System. While we will endeavor to explain these developments in technical terms at a tutorial level, our main focus is to engage the students in the historical sweep of technical development and innovation as driven by national needs, and whether this represents a continuing framework for the 21st Century.

"Only the dead have seen the end of war." Plato

"It is well that war is so terrible--we should grow too fond of it." Robert E. Lee

"You may not be interested in war, but war is interested in you." Trotsky

'War: first, one hopes to win; then one expects the enemy to lose; then, one is satisfied that he too is suffering; in the end, one is surprised that everyone has lost.' - Karl Kraus

"He who does not remember history is condemned to repeat it." Santayana

Course Location and Grading

Room 320 Soda Hall, Thursday, 11-1 PM
2 Units, Pass/Fail based on attendance, seminar participation, one group paper and presentation (analyzing a world insurgency) plus one individual research paper (on a topic of the student's choice to be negotiated with the instructor).
Discussions will be augmented with selected video presentations to provide context for the technologies and events being discussed.
In addition, we make extensive use of group "games" to emerse the participants into the issues being discussed.
Students really enjoy these, but your active participation is essential; you get out of this course what you put in.

Tentative Course Agenda

18 January 07

25 January 07

1 February 07

8 February 07

15 February 07

22 February 07

1 March 07

8 March 07

15 March 07

22 March 07

5 April 07

12 April 07

19 April 07

26 April 07

3 May 07

Reading List

Required Textbook

I. C. B. Dear, M. R. D. Foot (Eds.), The Oxford Companion to World War II, Oxford University Press, Paperback Edition, 2001.

Last Updated 28 December 2006,