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rogue_drummer 09-26-2013 10:10 PM

Computer Science degree
Does anyone have a computer science degree? If you do, what was the hardest part of the curriculum for you?

Any info you want to share is greatly appreciated. Thanks!

BacteriumFendYoke 09-26-2013 10:26 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
I'm not a Computer Science graduate but I lived with a guy that was doing a degree in Computer Science for a while.

He told me that the hardest part for him was assembly language and machine code. He ended up specialising in assembly language but the initial learning curve was very steep because it was so low-level and essentially unrelated to natural human languages.

I've dabbled in programming and interface design at a basic level and always found interface design the most 'fun' part. I designed a system that took gestural movements and interpreted them into sound using a tracking point and a webcam. The work I did was fairly basic and used an object-based system but one of my cohort designed a system to interpret movement (using a Kinect sensor) into 3-D images and manipulate, project and edit in real-time during a performance. It was impressive!

rogue_drummer 09-26-2013 11:08 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
Thank you, Bacterium!

I've been handed an opportunity by the company I work for. They are partnering with Georgia Tech to offer a Master of Science in Computer Science degree complely online. My background is in business but I have a boatload of CS classes, both instructor led and computer based training from companies I have worked for in the past and college classes I've managed to take along the way after graduating with a bachelors in business. For most of my professional life I've been in IT one way or the other, so this is a great opportunity to fill in the gaps I have plus make myself more valuable and relevant to the company. Primarily I want the head knowledge, but being useful to the company is also a plus.

I took a mainframe architecture class years ago and we got into machine language (1's and 0's if I remember correctly), that I thought was interesting.

My boss gave me the nod to go ahead and apply. My concern is 1) the time I need to study (full time job plus family) and 2) the time it will take to pick up a new language like Unix or Python, or C/C++. Unix doesn't seem hard because I used to do things in DOS, and I'm teaching myself Python right now. When I took C years ago I remember it was hard to learn.

BacteriumFendYoke 09-26-2013 11:15 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
I studied a smattering of C and it wasn't something I could pick up easily. I'm sure once you get past the initial syntax and vocabulary it's quite simple, though.

My brother is a mathematician and has done work programming in Fortran (something of a family tradition, actually) but that's not a language I would recommend picking up. Its use is quite specialised, even though the principles are influential.

In my humble opinion, picking up C and C++ would be a good choice. You'd be learning very widely-used, mature, stable and transferable languages. There are also a multitude of tools that can help with C and the compilers are consistent. GCC - for instance - has been around for decades and has a proven track record. There are more 'modern' languages (like Python) around but C is a good starting point because so many other languages mimic its behaviour. In fact, Python uses some basic C principles.

Bobrush 09-26-2013 11:52 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
I have a Master's in CS. It's my opinion that most people either have an aptitude for it, or not. If you do, the differences between languages are no big deal, some are just a bit more tedious than others. If you don't, any language will be hard to learn. The hardest part of going through the program for me, was flaky instructors. First, let me say that most of my instructors were excellent talented professionals that I learned a lot from. However, a small number were nutjobs. One guy told us at the beginning that there would be homeworks, quizzes, 3 tests, a large programming project, and a final exam. By the end of the semester, all we did was the programming project. I got an A, a friend got a B, neither of us received ANY comments or feedback, just our letter grade. My friend (whom I have a very high opinion of, and who has been extremely successful) complained and the instructor replied, "I just didn't think it was A work". It's important to get to know other students and find out about instructors before taking their classes.
A class in NP-complete problems was somewhat challenging, but mainly just because of the mathematical proofs, notation, etc.
The program was certainly a LOT of work, but if you have programming experience, and like it, you should do well. I certainly learned a lot, and I do recommend it. As far as jobs, I've always done pretty well, and when comparing credentials, employers/customers have always been more impressed with my Master's in CS, than so many of my friends' MBA's.

Deathmetalconga 09-26-2013 11:53 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
I am currently enrolled full-time at a two-year college studying for an Associates of Applied Science in Web development. We have just finished learning Microsoft networks and next week we'll start learning Linux networks. After that, it will be C#, then more languages like PHP, CSS, JavaScript, HTML5, etc. See the curriculum at cwidaho.cc/academics/web-development

I have been doing websites for 10 years but I want to get more technical skills, literacy in artificial languages and learn more back-end stuff. I suggest you research to what extent the degree teaches hands-on programming skills, which is what businesses are looking for the most.

Computer science is challenging but any person of at least ordinary intelligence can learn it if they enjoy it and apply themselves. I am also working full-time (self employed) so it is a struggle to keep it all together. While I could have done online courses, I like the discipline of a sit-down classroom.

rdb 09-27-2013 01:35 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
I was a CS major (in fact, went all the way through a Ph.D.) and was a software engineer for a chunk of my career. For me, theory (complexity, algorithms, etc.) was the hardest part, whereas programming came fairly naturally. Personally, I think that CS is a great discipline for almost any career. It teaches you how to think logically and analytically about problems, all kinds of problems. I think programming should become a core discipline taught in all schools. It's not about computing per-se; it's about problem solving.

rogue_drummer 09-27-2013 05:12 PM

Re: Computer Science degree
Thank you, guys! You've given me a great wealth of advice and experience here.

I had another chat with my boss yesterday and we came up with a game plan. I need to check into the class structures, how long each online classes last, etc since it's a fairly new program they are launching. He'll back me 100% in this endeavor. My wife and 2 kids are telling me to go for it and are very supportive.

You've mentioned some interesting things I need to further check into. Thank again!

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