A week with ARM

Over the past week, I have spent my time in a little village outside Cambridge named Foxton. This week was spent at Villier’s Park on a Computer Science residential course sponsored by ARM.

The week consisted of both practical application as well learning new theoretical concepts. Since the course was sponsored by ARM, our projects revolved around the recently released BBC micro:bit which uses ARM’s processors.

We had 5 options of projects to choose from:

  1. Create new PXT packages for the micro:bits
  2. Create a Text based adventure game using micro:bits
  3. Creating a Turing Machine Simulator
  4. Create an IDE for classroom use of micro:bits
  5. Create a mobile phone companion using the micro:bits Bluetooth capabilities

I had chosen the PXT packages option and over the course of the week my team had developed three different new pacakages for the micro:bit. We developed a new songwriting block that allowed users to input a text string using ABC notation which was easier to use than the original music PXT packages which required users to input notes individually which was a very tedious process. We had also developed a timer as well decimal to binary converter.

Our work can be found in the following github repositories:

The theoretical concepts that were covered during the week consisted of Turing Machines, Lambda Calculus, code-breaking, The Halting problem and the maths behind juggling.

The week consisted of a variety of trips, visiting the Cambdrige Centre of Computing History and ARM.

On the final day we visited ARM to present our projects to ARM engineers and staff. However upon entering we were greeted by a table of Lego Mindstorm robots surrounded by Rubik’s cubes. These robots were (to no surprise) Rubik’s Cube solving robots. These robots belonged to ARM designer, David Gilday (pictures below). Using ARM processors, David created the Cubestormer 3 which holds the world record for fastest time to solve a 3x3x3 Rubik’s cube in 3.253 seconds.

David demonstrated several robots to us: a 3x3x3 solver, 4x4x4 solver and a 7x7x7 solver. The following video shows the 3x3x3 solver.

After the demonstrations all 5 teams gave presentations to ARM engineers who in turn formed the judging panel to decide which group presented their project the best and which group showcased the best use of logic and application. My group, PXT packages , managed to win the prize of the best use of logic and application.

Overall I thoroughly enjoyed the week, being surrounded by people with the same interests as me and learning a lot in the process.

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