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Computer Science in 1974 vs. Today

Thomas Cormen, Professor and Chair of the Department of Computer Science at Dartmouth College, shares his experience with computer science classes in 1974. Back in the day, he had to type his Fortran programs in to punch cards and feed the cards into a hopper. Then he would get a printout from the line printer and see if his program worked by analyzing the output. If it wasn't working, he would have to take his output and go over it carefully until he figured out the error. Time was precious because the the IBM 360/91 he used at Princeton's computer center was loads slower than our computers today. Today, students own their own computers and use advanced IDEs that allow them to catch errors more quickly. Not only that, but code is compiled so much faster and you can run it more quickly because of that. Cormen mentions that the disadvantage of todays technology (although not all bad) is that students are not taking the same time he did back in his day to go through each line of code and fully understand how their programs works. The help recieved from IDEs and other sources is a risk because students might just be "randomly morphing" their code until it magically works (he admits that even he does that sometimes to debug his TeX macros.) This is something we really need to think about, do you think the students today are missing out on the full experience of computer science because of this? Sources: http://www.forbes.com/sites/quora/2014/12/08/how-teaching-computer-science-has-changed-from-1974-to-today/

Graduate School or Industry?

Being an undergraduate, this is a common question. Many computer science and engineering students are stuck and can't decide if they should continue their education or just go straight to an entry-level job and work their way up. I found this great resource on the Dartmouth Computer Science department website that gives some great advice. Here's some advice that stood out to me: • Find out what you are passionate about Grad school isn't for everyone - so you don't want to be one of those people who hate grad school. Make sure you do something you are passionate about. What projects have you enjoyed in the past? If you hate school, then that might be a sign Grad school might not be for you. • Talk to professors. Discuss your ideas and goals, and get some advice. Talk to some grad students here and elsewhere. Find out what it's like. Talk to recent alum friends about what they've done, why, and how they like it. • Do you like inquiry, invention, creativity, exploration, reading, discussion, writing, thinking, teaching, discovering the unknown, etc? Do you like to work with others, or independently? (Both are big aspects of research.) Do you like to tackle unstructured problems, or would you rather work on a task assigned to you? Do you prefer thinking up new ideas and sketching out the basic fundamentals, or do you like to deal with finishing the details on a project?