March 27, 2023

Join us to discuss using AI to solve simple programming problems on Monday 3rd April at 2pm BST

Filed under: sigcse — Duncan Hull @ 10:14 am
Tags: , ,
CC licensed pilot image from flaticon.com

Maybe you wrote that code and maybe you didn’t. If Artificial Intelligence helped you, such as the OpenAI Codex in GitHub Copilot, how did it solve your problem? How much did AI help or hinder your solution? Join us to discuss a paper by Michel Wermelinger from the Open University published in the SIGCSE technical symposium earlier this month in Toronto on this very topic. [1] We’ll be joined by Michel who will present a lightning talk to kick-off our discussion. Here’s the abstract of his paper:

The teaching and assessment of introductory programming involves writing code that solves a problem described by text. Previous research found that OpenAI’s Codex, a natural language machine learning model trained on billions of lines of code, performs well on many programming problems, often generating correct and readable Python code. GitHub’s version of Codex, Copilot, is freely available to students. This raises pedagogic and academic integrity concerns. Educators need to know what Copilot is capable of, in order to adapt their teaching to AI-powered programming assistants. Previous research evaluated the most performant Codex model quantitatively, e.g. how many problems have at least one correct suggestion that passes all tests. Here I evaluate Copilot instead, to see if and how it differs from Codex, and look qualitatively at the generated suggestions, to understand the limitations of Copilot. I also report on the experience of using Copilot for other activities asked of students in programming courses: explaining code, generating tests and fixing bugs. The paper concludes with a discussion of the implications of the observed capabilities for the teaching of programming.

All welcome, as usual we’ll be meeting on zoom, details at sigcse.cs.manchester.ac.uk/join-us


  1. Michel Wermelinger (2023) Using GitHub Copilot to Solve Simple Programming Problems in Proceedings of the 54th ACM Technical Symposium on Computer Science Education Pages SIGCSE 2023 page 172–178 DOI: 10.1145/3545945.3569830

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