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

Professors David A. Forsyth and 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, Wednesdays, 10-12 noon
2 Units, Pass/Fail based on attendance, seminar participation, three short papers.

Course Agenda

21 January 04

Seminar Introduction, Course Mechanics, and Getting Acquainted 

28 January 04

4 February 04

11 February 04

18 February 04

25 February 04

3 March 04

10 March 04

17 March 04

31 March 04

7 April 04

14 April 04

21 April 04

28 April 04

5 May 04

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.
Azriel Lorber, Misguided Weapons: Technological Failure and Surprise on the Battlefield, Brassey's, Washington, 2002.

Last Updated 17 February 2004,