Animation Aided Problem Solving

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Animation is a standard technique in computer-aided instruction. The project aims at applying the methods of algorithm animation in problem solving. The idea is based on the internal similarity of algorithm design and problem solving.

Traditionally animations were coded by hand demanding much time. We have developed two systems for fast generation of animations for algorithms. Eliot works on Linux workstations and Jeliot runs on the World-Wide Web. The speed of generation is one of the key factors of the applicability of the approach.

Besides generation of algorithm animations we have studied how to prepare animations of simple algorithms with Microsoft Excel spreadsheet program. We are also developing ways to use Excel animations in problem solving. This approach is important because of the wide availability of Excel. In addition to animation we are making tools for creating and and managing concept maps in education and problem solving.

Our topics lie in the borderland of computer science and education, and the research is carried out as a joint project with the Department of Teacher Education. Members of the AAPS group are Doc. Jorma Tarhio (group leader), Prof. Veijo Meisalo (Department of Teacher Education), Ph.D. Erkki Sutinen, Lecturer Jaakko Kurhila, M.Sc. Matti Lattu, Erkki Rautama, and Tommi Teräsvirta. The group has got funding from the Ministry of Education and University of Helsinki in 1996-98.

The AAPS group was involved in organizing ITiCSE 2000, The 5th Annual Conference on Innovation and Technology in Computer Science Education.


  1. A. Dybdahl, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio: On Animation Features of Excel. In: Proc. ITiCSE '98, Integrating Technology into Computer Science Education, ACM, 1998, 77-80.

  2. J. Haajanen, M. Pesonius, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio, T. Teräsvirta, P. Vanninen: Animation of user algorithms on the Web. In: Proc. VL '97, IEEE Symposium on Visual Languages, IEEE 1997, 360-367.

  3. K. Järvinen, T. Pienimäki, J. Kyaruzi, E. Sutinen, T. Teräsvirta: Between Tanzania and Finland: learning Java over the Web. In: Proc. SIGCSE '99, 13th SIGCSE Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education, ACM, 1999, 217-221.

  4. J. Kurhila, E. Sutinen: Agents in an adaptive learning environment for special needs education". In: ICCHP '98, Proc. Computers and Assistive Technology/IFIP World Computer Congress 1998 (ed. A. D. N. Edwards et al.), Austrian Computer Society, 1998, 241-249.

  5. S.-P. Lahtinen, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio: Automated Animation of Algorithms with Eliot. Journal of Visual Languages and Computing 9, 3 (1998), 337-349.

  6. S.-P. Lahtinen, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio, A.-P. Tuovinen: Object-oriented visualization of program logic. In: Proc. Technology of Object-Oriented Languages & Systems TOOLS 23, ISE Inc., Santa Barbara, CA, 1997, 93-107.

  7. V. Meisalo, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio: CLAP: teaching data structures in a creative way. In: Proc. ITiCSE '97, Integrating Technology into Computer Science Education, ACM, Uppsala, 1997, 117-119.

  8. V. Meisalo, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio, T. Teräsvirta: Combining algorithmic and creative problem solving on the Web. In: Proc. Teleteaching '98/IFIP World Computer Congress 1998 (ed. G. Davies). Austrian Computer Society, 1998, 715-724.

  9. E. Rautama, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio: Excel as an algorithm animation environment. In: Proc. ITiCSE '97, Integrating Technology into Computer Science Education, ACM, Uppsala, 1997, 24-26.

  10. E. Rautama, E. Sutinen, J. Tarhio: Supporting learning process with concept map scripts. Journal of Interactive Learning Research 8, 3/4 (1997), 407-420.

  11. E. Rautama, J. Tarhio: Sharing concept maps on the web. In: Global Education ON the Net, Proc. ICCE '98, The Sixth International Conference on Computers in Education (ed. T.-W. Chan et al.). Springer, Beijing, 1998, 273-280.
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