'Last Lecture' prof's program to be updated

July 31, 2009

(AP) -- Carnegie Mellon University will release an updated version of the animation-based software developed by late "last lecture" professor Randy Pausch to teach computer programming.

Pausch, a Carnegie Mellon computer science professor and pioneer of research, was involved with the Alice software project.

He died at age 47 of pancreatic cancer last July, 10 months after giving his "last lecture" about facing death that became an Internet sensation and spawned his best-selling book, "The Last Lecture."

Alice 3 - expected to debut next week, according to university officials - is designed to teach programming using a "drag and drop" interface to create 3D animations. The latest version, available free at http://www.alice.org , also lets advanced users create programs in the Java programming language.

Users can select hundreds of character objects and scenes from the popular video game "The Sims" to make and control virtual worlds.

Hundreds of colleges and numerous middle- and high schools use Alice software to teach programming, according to Carnegie Mellon.

Alice "dispels the impression that computer programming is all about arcane notations and requires years of training before it becomes possible to create interesting results," Randal Bryant, dean of the School of Computer Science, said in a statement.

Pausch saw an early version of Alice 3 shortly before his death.

"To the extent that you can live on in something, I will live on in Alice," he said during his final lecture.

©2009 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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