how important is computer science

how important is computer science

How important is computer science

As the title says,

How important is Discrete Mathematics for a Computer Scientist? Background: I'm pursuing a Master's degree with a focus on fundamentals such as Algorithms, Complexity and Computability Theory and Programming Languages to get a good foundation for working in the field of Parallel Computing.

Some more background: My university grants a lot of freedom in the choices of courses for my Master's degree. It's officially called "Software Engineering", but due to a the broad range of electives, a different focus is possible. Interestingly, none of the electives is a lecture in Math! I'm thinking about doing a course about Discrete Mathematics that would take half a semester to complete successfully, even if I can't use it for my degree. So with this question I'm trying to find out if the effort is justifiable.

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As a Computer Scientist looking to get a Master's degree with focus on "Algorithms, Complexity and Computability Theory and Programming Languages" I would say Discrete Mathematics is very important.

Discrete math will help you with the "Algorithms, Complexity and Computability Theory" part of the focus more than programming language. The understanding of set theory, probability, and combinations will allow you to analyze algorithms. You will be able to successfully identify parameters and limitations of your algorithms and have the ability to realize how complex a problem/solution is.

As far as the programming language, discrete math doesn't touch on how to actually program; but rather it can be used for software system design specification. I used "ZED" in university, and it was dealing with designing a system using set theory. I'm not sure what percentage of software systems are designed with set theory these days though.

The last important concept to grab out of discrete math is boolean algebra. This is very useful not only for creating logical solution, but it is very useful in programming too. Software can be made/broke simply on the boolean logic in it.

Overall, discrete math is not a numbers class for the most part. It makes you use your brain in ways no other classes do. It is a logical thinking class and you must have patience if doing proofs/logic computations don't come easy to you. I've seen people change majors because they couldn't think "abstractly" enough to get through the course.

In short, I would make a stance that discrete math would be important class to take for a Computer Scientist/Software Engineer.

How important is calculus for Comptuer Science?

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How Important is an Internship to Launch a Career in Computer Science?

If you’re interested in being a programmer or researcher, you probably want to know how important a computer science internship is when beginning your career. An internship can be valuable, but it can also be a waste of time, depending on the company that hires you as an intern. In general, an internship is not necessary for getting a job as a programmer, but it can be very helpful when starting a career in research.

Starting a Computer Science Career

If you’re planning to go to graduate school, you should definitely apply for as many interesting summer internships as you can find, but if you’re planning to go into software design, an internship isn’t really necessary. However, a good internship can give you useful experience and possibly some connections in the industry, so don’t overlook programming internships just because you don’t want to be a researcher. The most important step to take when preparing for a career in software design is learning how to build programs that work. To get good at programming, you need to work on projects with other programmers, and you can find plenty of excellent opportunities on open-source networks like GitHub and Google Code.

An internship is useful for getting some corporate experience or a little job credit for your résumé if you want to work in a corporate environment, but it won’t teach you how to code. When you start applying for programming jobs, your potential employers will test you on your programming knowledge, and these tests will be similar to the exams you take in your data structures, algorithms and software design courses. You will need to know how to design software with the Unified Modeling Language, how to choose the most efficient algorithms and how to debug a program.

Depending on the job you apply for, you will also need to be proficient in one or several programming languages that you probably won’t learn in college. If you find an internship that will put you to work building software with other programmers, you should definitely grab it, but if it’s just a position shadowing another worker, you may be better off honing your programming skills on your own. One of the biggest complaints from employers is that most programmers fail their interview tests, so getting your coding knowledge as sharp as possible will put you ahead of the pack.

Graduate students should apply for internships doing interesting research because it will give them real work experience. Many of these positions can be tedious for interns, but you don’t always have much of a choice. The researchers who have already earned their degrees get to do the interesting part of the work, and the students take care of the less glamorous, laborious part. There are always positions open at universities, so you can apply for the ones you find interesting around the summer and winter breaks. They’re usually merit-based, so keeping your GPA as high as possible will help you get accepted.

Computer science is one of the most popular majors these days because the demand for software engineers is at an all-time high. If you love designing software, writing code and figuring out solutions to technical problems, you’ll probably benefit from completing a relevant computer science internship.

This is Alfred Thompson's blog about computer science education and related topics.

How important is the first programming language really?

The teacher and who you are teaching it too are by far the two biggest factors. In the 90s I took Java from a guy who could not teach a duck how to float. I still hate Java. If I am teaching 5th graders I am not going for Python. If I am teaching seniors I am not going for Scratch. But both can be done at those levels if done correctly.

OK, I'll comment even if you disparage COBOL.

Interestingly enough I respect COBOL more now than when I first learned it. I think part of my problem with COBOL originally is that my professor didn't like it and that attitude was contagious. That experience influenced me to believe that instructors should teach languages they like well enough to not turn their students off to it.

It may be far down the list, but language choice *does* matter, at least for an intro course geared to CS majors.

Their input is generally interesting to some extent but with out evidence and practice to support it not particularly useful. Having gone through a programming course doesn't make one an expert in how to teach one. Pretending otherwise is not productive either.

It may help to think of a language designed for teaching, see Brian Harvey's You can learn to program in any language. But it’s not just an accident that the authors of SICP chose Scheme as their teaching language. The big ideas in the book — the ones that alumni in the real world tell us they’re using in their work — express themselves best in Scheme. Indeed, saying it that way puts the matter backward. Gerry Sussman (with Guy Steele) invented Scheme before he turned (with Hal Abelson) to expressing the ideas behind Scheme in a course. SICP is Scheme, in tutorial form..

As Garth indicated, the audience also matters. I think one of the problems we have is that we're trying to design the "One Course that Rules Them All," with a single programming language. There is something to be said (as Dave indicates) that if the audience is future software developers you want certain things in a first programming language. We want to provide the basic foundation for future coursework and learning. If, however, the audience is just students you want to expose to the concept of programming, so hopefully they remember something and can use it in their chosen career someday to making something a little easier, then I'm looking for a completely different type of language - one that's intuitive and a lower overhead and no barriers for installation.

Computer science is the third most popular major amongst international students coming to the United States. Therfe are many reasons that computer science is so popular, including exceptional job security, uncommonly high starting salaries, and diverse job opportunities across industries. However, an international student contemplating studying computer science needs to ask themself, "What is computer science?"

So, what is computer science? Generally speaking, computer science is the study of computer technology, both hardware and software. However, computer science is a diverse field; the required skills are both applicable and in-demand across practically every industry in today's technology-dependent world. As such, the field of computer science is divided amongst a range of sub-disciplines, most of which are full-fledged specialized disciplines in and of themselves. The field of computer science spans several core areas: computer theory, hardware systems, software systems, and scientific computing. Students will choose credits from amongst these sub-disciplines with varying levels of specialization depending on the desired application of the computer science degree. Though most strict specialization occurs at the graduate level, knowing exactly what computer science is (and where a student's interests fall within this vast field) is of paramount importance to knowing how to study computer science.

The disciplines encompassed by a computer science degree are incredibly vast, and an international student must know how to study computer science or, in other words, how to effectively navigate amongst this sea of sub-disciplines and specializations. Here are a few possible areas of specialization available to students pursuing computer science degrees:

  • Applied Mathematics
  • Digital Image/ Sound
  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Microprogramming
  • Bioinformatics
  • Networks And Administration
  • Computer Architecture Networks
  • Cryptography
  • Computer Engineering
  • Operating Systems
  • Computer Game Development
  • Robotics
  • Computer Graphics
  • Simulation And Modeling
  • Computer Programming
  • Software Development
  • Software Systems
  • Data Management
  • Web Development
  • Design Databases
  • Parallel Programming
  • iOS Development
  • Mobile Development
  • Memory Systems
  • Computational Physics

With so many available options, having a specific focus in mind while studying computer science in the United States is the best plan of action for any international student hoping to seriously prepare for their future on the job market. Knowing how to study computer science and effectively planning which type of degree to receive will depend on how well the student understands the discipline of computer science, and deciding which degree is right for a student is a move that will determine what sorts of computer science careers the student is eligible for upon graduating. Therefore, it is of the utmost importance to plan a specific computer science degree that will enable you to pursue the career you want.

Despite the seemingly endless variety of applications and sub-disciplines an international student studying computer science in the United States will have to navigate, asking important questions like, "What is computer science?" is a great way to begin a successful education and, ultimately, career. Moreover, there are plenty of free resources available for studying computer science. For instance, a great resource for international students trying to study computer science in the United States can be the websites of specific institutions. These websites will not only convey what sorts of computer science degrees are available at their institution (as well as any specialties), they will also often have pages specifically to assist interested international students. Program course credit breakdowns, scholarship and internship opportunities, ongoing research, all these vital facts about an institution can be found on their computer science program's website.

Another great resource for international students is the Study Computer Science guide. The guide is a wealth of information on topics ranging from questions about where to study computer science, to providing internship and career advice.

Learn more about studying computer science in the USA by reading our growing article collection.

Over time we will be updating this section and including more information for those who want to study computer science in the USA and for other countries, but please feel free to post your thoughts and comments on our Facebook fan page or Google Circle, and also follow us and post questions through Twitter.

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