Because the design and implementation of computer programs to solve problems involve skills that are fundamental to the study of computer science, a large part of the AP Computer Science A course is built around the development of computer programs that correctly solve a given problem. These programs should be understandable, adaptable and, when appropriate, reusable. At the same time, the design and implementation of computer programs is used as a context for introducing other important aspects of computer science, including the development and analysis of algorithms, the development and use of fundamental data structures, the study of standard algorithms and typical applications and the use of logic and formal methods. In addition, the responsible use of these systems is an integral part of the course. According to surveys of comparable curricula at four-year colleges and universities, it is equivalent to a one-semester introductory college course in computer science.
At the conclusion of the course, students should be able to:
- design and implement solutions to problems by writing, running and debugging computer programs
- use and implement commonly used algorithms and data structures
- develop and select appropriate algorithms and data structures to solve problems
- code fluently in an object-oriented paradigm using the programming language Java — students are expected to be familiar with and be able to use standard Java library classes from the AP Java subset
- read and understand a large program consisting of several classes and interacting objects — students should be able to read and understand a description of the design and development process leading to such a program
- recognize the ethical and social implications of computer use