recently there have been a few questions on teaching CS in both cs.se & tcs.se and there are many high-rated related questions on the two sites on the topic. thinking over the latest one made me realize that a lot of students get exposed to some aspects of STEM through the media (sometimes inaccurately), and one of the most powerful media outlets is movies.

it seems that maybe instead of rolling ones eyes or recoiling from their unrealism, these have some potential and can be used as a teaching tool (aka "teachable moment") by taking them as a student experience to build on, as case studies for students to learn about certain concepts and how the concepts actually work vs the screenwritten, "hollywood" version, ie address (possible widespread?) misconceptions about the field and its essential aspects.

what are key or compelling movies introducing CS-type concepts and what is accurate/inaccurate about the portrayal? [or is it roughly correct?]

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    $\begingroup$ A list of AI-based movies would be quite long, many of which portray super computers that easily pass the Turing test. $\endgroup$
    – Shaull
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 17:32
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    $\begingroup$ Science (of any kind) is usually the first victim in film, so I don't think I could recommend any of the more popular movies (A Beautiful Mind, as I remember it, may come close, though). There may be recommendable books; I know that I have read quite a number of short stories that portray science more or less accurately. $\endgroup$
    – Raphael
    Commented Nov 9, 2013 at 19:53
  • $\begingroup$ asked a more generic question about CS portrayals in pop culture awhile back but it got closed/zapped [would still like to revisit it]. after writing above question it also occured to me that there are probably good documentaries out there too which dont suffer so much from the "holywoodized unrealistic glamorization" problem. $\endgroup$
    – vzn
    Commented Nov 10, 2013 at 20:34

1 Answer 1


I haven't seen it yet, but Travelling Salesman could be pretty interesting.


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