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The History of the CompSci Degree

samzenpus posted more than 2 years ago | from the oldest-school dept.

Education 126

Esther Schindler writes "Young whippersnappers might imagine that Computer Science degrees — and the term "computer science" — have been around forever. But they were invented, after all, and early programmers couldn't earn a college degree in something that hadn't been created yet. In The Evolution of the Computer Science Degree, Karen Heyman traces the history of the term and the degree, and challenges you on a geek trivia question: Which U.S. college offered the first CS degree? (It's not an obvious answer.)"

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Go Go CompSci! (3, Funny)

TaoPhoenix (980487) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316381)

I want to see how long it takes a site specializing in guys good at CompSci in the age of Google to find that answer!

Re:Go Go CompSci! (3, Funny)

jhoegl (638955) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316477)

Article Click... Perdue.

In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (5, Insightful)

Cryacin (657549) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316521)

WANTED:
Astronaut. Must have experience with moon landing.

early programmers couldn't earn a college degree in something that hadn't been created yet.

And yet, recruiters would still think so.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316839)

It's funny but the Indian Space agency was looking for astronauts to go on a Mars mission and they wanted folks who had experience on Mars.

They got 100 qualified applicants.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (5, Funny)

davester666 (731373) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318813)

> They got 100 qualified applicants.

None of which could pass the drug test.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40319431)

I resemble that comment.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (5, Funny)

RabidReindeer (2625839) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317229)

WANTED:

Astronaut. Must have experience with moon landing.

early programmers couldn't earn a college degree in something that hadn't been created yet.

And yet, recruiters would still think so.

Wrong:

Astronaut. Must have 5 years experience moon landings with LM Model 35 Rev.7 Rocket engine repair experience preferred. Must be able to prep launch gantries, maintain ground-tracking antennas, and operate crawler-transporter units.

That (briefly) is how a corporate HR position advertisement reads.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318145)

A headhunter contacted me once with a job description that asked for every skill related to computers plus some. She also asked that if I wasn't available would I know someone who would qualify. I replied "sorry I've got a long-term contract but I know the perfect person for this job, his email address is superman@krypton.com" ... Well, she found it funny.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (2, Funny)

locopuyo (1433631) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318235)

or vagina

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319169)

or Samantha Carter

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319499)

Hmm. If only we could get another Stargate SG-1 series. I think even the military could get behind that, as SG-1 did more for them than Top Gun.

They just need to remember that the campy humor SG-1 had is what kept the thing going as long as it did.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (2)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318455)

I'm still looking for a Warp Physicist. I tell you, if we had more H1Bs, this wouldn't be a problem!

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (1)

volpe (58112) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318457)

I saw a job posting in 2003 that insisted upon a minimum of 10 years of Java programming experience.

Re:In the NASA job column Nov 1968 (1)

Vintermann (400722) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320179)

I read that as "Ability to lie convincingly essential", and I wouldn't apply. An ex-colleague of mine posted the following job ad:

https://www.varnish-software.com/about/employment/kld-labs [varnish-software.com]

I think he's suggesting that the bolded portion should be applied to the job ad itself. At least some employers have self-insight.

Re:Go Go CompSci! (1)

chengiz (998879) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317281)

We believe in a better chic^W major

Re:Go Go CompSci! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316483)

About six months ago, I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of a terrible virus on a client's PC (I own a PC repair shop and have been fixing computers for over 10 years). Given my level of expertise, I thought I'd be able to get rid of it fairly quickly and without hassle, but as was made evident by my colossal failure, I was horribly, horribly wrong.

I couldn't remove the virus no matter what method I used. I tried all the latest anti-virus software and all the usual tricks, but it was all in vain. Failure after failure, my life was slowly being sucked away as I spent more and more of my time trying to get rid of this otherworldly virus.

Frustrated and stressed by my own failure, I began distancing myself from my wife and children. After a few days, I began verbally abusing them, and it eventually escalated into physical abuse. I was slowly losing what remaining sanity I had left. If this had continued for much longer, it is highly probable that I would have committed suicide. A mere shell of what I once was, I barricaded myself in my bedroom and cried myself to sleep for days on end.

That's when it happened: I found MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] ! I installed MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right on the client's PC, ran a scan, and it immediately got rid of all the viruses without a single problem. MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] accomplished in record time what I was unable to accomplish after a full week. Wow! Such a thing!

MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] is outstanding! My client's computer is running faster than ever! I highly recommend you install MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] right this minuteness, run a scan, and then boost your PC speed in record time! MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] came through with flying colours where no one else could!

My client's response? "MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed!" All the PC repair professionals are using MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] to solve all of their problems. This should be reason enough for you to switch to MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] ! It'll speed up your computer, rid it of all viruses, and you'll be able to work productively again! Wow!

Even if you're not having any obvious computer problems, you could still be in danger. That's why I very highly recommend that you still use MyCleanPC [mycleanpc.com] . After all, it will boost your PC & internet speed to levels you never would think are possible!

MyCleanPC: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [mycleanpc.com]

Re:Go Go CompSci! (-1, Offtopic)

DamnStupidElf (649844) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318005)

About six months ago, I was overexerting myself trying to get rid of a terrible virus on a client's PC (I own a PC repair shop and have been fixing computers for over 10 years). Given my level of expertise, I thought I'd be able to get rid of it fairly quickly and without hassle, but as was made evident by my colossal failure, I was horribly, horribly wrong.

I couldn't remove the virus no matter what method I used. I tried all the latest anti-virus software and all the usual tricks, but it was all in vain. Failure after failure, my life was slowly being sucked away as I spent more and more of my time trying to get rid of this otherworldly virus.

Frustrated and stressed by my own failure, I began distancing myself from my wife and children. After a few days, I began verbally abusing them, and it eventually escalated into physical abuse. I was slowly losing what remaining sanity I had left. If this had continued for much longer, it is highly probable that I would have committed suicide. A mere shell of what I once was, I barricaded myself in my bedroom and cried myself to sleep for days on end.

That's when it happened: I found Linux [kernel.org] ! I installed Linux [kernel.org] right on the client's PC, ran a scan, and it immediately got rid of all the viruses without a single problem. Linux [kernel.org] accomplished in record time what I was unable to accomplish after a full week. Wow! Such a thing!

Linux [kernel.org] is outstanding! My client's computer is running faster than ever! I highly recommend you install Linux [kernel.org] right this minuteness, run a scan, and then boost your PC speed in record time! Linux [kernel.org] came through with flying colours where no one else could!

My client's response? "Linux [kernel.org] totally cleaned up my system, and increased my speed!" All the PC repair professionals are using Linux [kernel.org] to solve all of their problems. This should be reason enough for you to switch to Linux [kernel.org] ! It'll speed up your computer, rid it of all viruses, and you'll be able to work productively again! Wow!

Even if you're not having any obvious computer problems, you could still be in danger. That's why I very highly recommend that you still use Linux [kernel.org] . After all, it will boost your PC & internet speed to levels you never would think are possible!

Linux: For a Cleaner, Safer PC. [kernel.org]

Re:Go Go CompSci! (-1, Offtopic)

jimi1x (1105911) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318533)

Why are you posting this rot?

Re:Go Go CompSci! (3, Funny)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319523)

About six months ago, I was overexerting myself removing 'MyCleanPC' from a customer's computer. Apparently, the client in question was unaware that it was a piece of malware, written by Russian programmers whose only experience with computer programming involved a copy of Visual Basic 3.0 and MS BOB, and was responsible for Windows crashing all the time.

After removing 'MyCleanPC,' my client's computer ran 1000 times faster than before, and their credit card numbers were no longer mysteriously getting stolen.

 

engineer (0)

eyenot (102141) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316391)

*yawn* glad I'm smart enough, passionate enough, and imaginative enough to pursue a Ph.D. in Computer Engineering.

Re:engineer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316463)

Read "Outliers" by Malcolm Gladwell.

You aren't necessarily that much more talented than the average person -- you're simply lucky. You don't need to spend roughly the same amount of time on a Computer Science degree, because you already knew computers well enough to look into engineering them. This probably has more to do with the time you were born, or advantages given to you by your parents than innate talents. Even opportunities that people gave to you during time periods when fewer people understood computers can give you an advantage: if you're the only person in your high school who already understands how a computer works during a time when most people still have never used one, you're going to be granted favors in the computer lab and so on. Not so much today when everybody has a small web-surfing and game-playing computer in their hands roughly ten minutes out of every hour they're awake.

So before you get all pompous, consider the advantages you were given and the way you intend to end those means.

Re:engineer (0, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316785)

HAHA. You read that charlatan's book and now you think you know something? The guy is a fraud and you swallowed it hook line and sinker. Guess what? You are most certainly not an outlier. :)

Re:engineer (5, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316897)

Bullshit you aren't. If you're earning a PhD you're towards the top of the capable list of people who earned bachelors degrees. Some of the capable people will go off and get real jobs that pay 70 or 80k a year after graduation (which is now all of my former students from a course that finished at the end of 2011 who left academia), but you cannot get into a PhD programme without being well above average. Different fields have differing skill levels and outlooks, but you can't get a PhD in any of the sciences unless you have well above average reasoning and maths skills. You have be passionate about being dispassionate and you have to be able to look at evidence and analyze it properly. Those are extremely rare skills. Even amongst people with undergraduates in science or engineering.

In physics to get a graduate degree you have to be in the top 70% of graduates from a bachelors more or less, but to pass in physics at all at the undergraduate level is quite hard. You're not all that much more special than people in say, medicine or engineering but when you're in academia and everyone you see over 30 you call "doctor" you forget that only about 10% of the US population has a graduate degree, let alone a PhD.

Engineering and comp sci are a bit different. They're harder to get into to start with, but it's easier to get into grad school once you pass, because most of your compatriots like money more than they like being able to investigate some novel, as yet unsolved problem that may remain unsolvable. Why is physics easy to get into but is proportionally so hard? Because as part of the regular science faculty they don't really care. If you can get into 'science' in general you can enroll in any of the physics classes. Not enough people are interested in physics for it to be a huge problem. I'm in canada and in my graduating year there were, I think it was about 170 BSc grads in the whole country, and about 2000 in the US. But there were also about 1800 or 1900 PhD's in canada and the US. In comp sci we have about the same, today (a number of years later) number of PhD's as physics, it's up over 2000 ish but not far off. But something like 50k undergrads in comp sci in canada and the US combined.

I'll grant you, that getting a PhD puts you 'only' the top 10% or so of the population at all, and within that much of the distinction is more interest than specific skill set. But you can't get a PhD without being really good in your area, and really good in general. You can get a BSc and be mediocre, and that's as much about luck and opportunity as anything else. But once you get stuck in a room full of computer nerds universities can pick and choose who they take for PhD degrees. I know where I am they have about 300 qualified applicants a year for about 40 spots in grad school (and it costs about 100 bucks to apply so you don't just fling applications about wildly, but you that doesn't mean only 40 of those 300 will go to grad school at all).

I grant that there's a lot to be said for when you're born and luck, especially in being financially successful in life, but Academia in north america and europe are very much merit based. It may be luck and opportunity that determines which field you go in, and whether or not you end up a professor of computer science making 130k a year or bill gates making 130k an hour, but in both cases you can be in the top 1% of the population if you manage your money and don't do anything catastrophically stupid professionally.

TL:DR. I call bullshit. Luck and temporal factors will get you a bachelors and contribute to what field, and how much money you make. But to get even accepted to a PhD programme you have to be in the top quarter or so of graduates from comp sci or engineering.

Re:engineer (2)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317067)

I don't know about Phd's, but I made $236k as a programmer last year, no high school diploma, no GED, no degree. So how impressive can a Phd be? That mean I beat out that 10%?

Re:engineer (5, Interesting)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317333)

Depends, how many hours did you work, how much experience do you have, how many hours did you have to work to get there, how much vacation do you get, what's your pension like, what's your job stress like, where do you have to live etc. etc. etc. I know lots of professors who pick up their kids at 3pm every day, take 2 months at home in the summer (they still have to work some of that, but they are at home at least) taking care of the kid. You get to meet this constant stream of interesting people in academia etc. If you go off into industry with a PhD you can easily start at 100k a year at 26 years or 27 years old, and have all the vacation time, pension plan etc.

PhD's aren't about the money, you are guaranteed enough to be reasonably successful in life, but how much effort you want to put into it is up to you.

Oh, and where would you be without a bunch of PhD nerds inventing the languages who programmed in, the IDE's you used (or the command line compilers) the OS schedulers etc. Being able to program well is a skill, but computer scientists aren't programmers. You could have made 236 being a welder for all it matters, lots of scientists need to know how to weld, lots need to know how to program, but they don't do it well.

You could well be in the top small fraction of the population intelligence wise. Which means it's unfortunate you didn't go to school, because you'd be making 350k a year not 236k. One of my buddies is about 50 years old, making about 450k a year working part time. The joys of being able to teach people how to program.

Like I said, luck and opportunity can get you into a BSc and it can get you money, but it won't get you a PhD. Maybe if you'd paid attention in school you'd be better at reading comprehension than programming, though from the sounds of things this plan worked out better for you.

Re:engineer (2)

maitai (46370) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317779)

I work whenever I want, when I want and how I want.... I'll give you compilers, although I wrote my own x86 assembler in 1986...

Before there was degrees, there were those of us that just did it for fun.

Money came into it later. Phd's, never.

I don't want to argue about public school systems. I said I didn't get a diploma or a GED, and sure if I'd gotten either it wouldn't make me better at what I do now.

Re:engineer (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318231)

No, a diploma or GED probably wouldn't make you better at what you do. Education is to identify and work with talent. In the 1980's we weren't identifying talent with programming particularly as far as I know.

Which again, doesn't mean you aren't successful. Hell bill gates is the most successful dropout in history. Luck and opportunity will get you a long way at making money and being successful in life no doubt. But a merit based system only lets people in who have merit. It could certainly miss some people, but the ones who make it in, do so on merit.

Re:engineer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40319083)

Okay, but we don't actually have a merit system anywhere in America, unless the primary indicator of merit is considered to be money. It is a near certainty that we have missed out on brilliant physicists simply because they were born into poverty.

Re:engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318045)

From the sounds of that, why would I want ANY degree?

Re:engineer (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318465)

To show aptitude? Because it's not, as that guy was talking about, the 1980's when there weren't a wide availability of degrees. Today if you go for a fresh starter job you're competing with people who have degrees and demonstrable skills.

Sure, if you can get an entry level job you can work for minimum wage for a few years until you pick up the skills, and be at constant risk of being replaced by someone who has a degree and doesn't make mistakes you don't even know you're making.

Much beyond a BSc in something is a matter of what sort of problem you want to solve, and what sort of job you want to do. If you want to solve high risk mostly theoretical problems that will only be useful if you can get a positive result then maybe you want a PhD. If you want to just make money a PhD definitely isn't the route to go. If you want to have a job where you can't be fired after you've worked for 4 years, and where you get to meet a long string of interesting people every year, then working at a university has its perks.

Certainly compared to people I went to high school with, who didn't even try and get degrees, I'm worse off. I've had 10.5 years of school where they've been earning money. But they're making 40-50k a year. For the last 6 I was making about 20 and breaking even. But then a PhD starting salary can be 80-90 easily, and 70k if you want to be a prof. If you can't do the math to figure out what the breakeven point is then you probably shouldn't even try and get a degree.

Even then though. Computer science isn't programming. If you're happy being an IT guy your entire career then and assembling computers and writing webpages in PHP you can get by quite well with even a 1 year college course, and that can be quite lucrative since half of those graduates are dumb as rocks.

Re:engineer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40319051)

Man you really drank the koolaid.

Re:engineer (1)

Grygus (1143095) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319107)

From the sounds of that, why would I want ANY degree?

Because hiring is a taxing job, and the vast majority of people doing it will take every shortcut available. If you apply for a non-starting IT position and have no degree, your resume goes straight to /dev/null the majority of the time. You'd think your experience listed on the document would handily override the lack, and you'd probably be right, but they won't be able to take that into account because they don't even get that far in reading it.

Re:engineer (1)

catmistake (814204) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319377)

... luck and opportunity...

Ecclesiastes 9:11

Re:engineer (1)

TapeCutter (624760) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319827)

People have made millions collecting scrap metal, what's your point?

Re:engineer (3)

serviscope_minor (664417) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320637)

I don't know about Phd's, but I made $236k, no high school diploma, no GED, no degree.

That's excellent, you have done very well for yourself.

PhD's aren't generally about the money. Having one, especially in a useful area can lead to very comfortable well paid jobs, but that's not what they are.

A PhD is an educational degree. One learns a lot about a specific field, but more than that, one learns how to do original research. One of the main (and often ignored goals) of a PhD is to learn how to effectively do research: how to direct it, how to choose appropriate paths, how to descover new things about the world, how to be reasonably sure that you're right about them and how to communicate those discoveries to others.

So how impressive can a Phd be? That mean I beat out that 10%

Depends on the PhD, depends on the person. Not all PhD's are equal. People in the know (i.e. in the same area as the PhD acquirer in question) generally won't accept the existence of a PhD at face value, they will go more on the contents of the PhD, the research group and advisor as indicators of how good the PhD is. If you're not in the right area, it's very hard to find out that information.

The important thing is not to get a chip on your shoulder (comments like "how impressive can that be" indicate that maybe you have).

If you're making 236k, then you're well above the top 10%. Just because you are higher up than people who have more qualifications doesn't mean you should discount those qualifications or assume that they are de-facto worthless.

Re:engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317137)

Unless 40 out of 300, benefit from temporal factors and luck. "When Nannerl was seven, she began keyboard lessons with her father while her three-year-old brother (Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart) looked on."

Re:engineer (1)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317377)

In particular no. By the time you're at the applying for MSc level you've had all the opportunities everyone else has.

Re:engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317783)

"In particular no." In general yes, then? I'm being facetious of course, but there's a fundamental aspect of this argument that is unknowable. We are pushing very hard against a philosophical/psychological argument. If 40 of the 300 are not particularly brought up with a tangible advantage then they are certainly benefiting from luck. Perhaps the argument boils down to you arguing talent is biologically innate and my argument suggesting genius is largely influenced by environment. Suppose for the sake of argument that Mozart had not been exposed to elementary keyboarding at the tender age of three years old?

Re:engineer (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318171)

It's not luck. We pick out the ones with the best averages, and the best letters of recommendation and all that relatively quantitative stuff. Letters of recommendation have a blurb of fairy bullshit about how 'Sir_sri is very talented and would make a barf barf barf' the important parts are the questions that let us judge what the raw numerical stuff actually means. What quartile of your graduates is this person in, would they qualify for graduate school where you are, on a scale of 1 to X how would you rate their leadership/technical skill/research potential/work ethic etc. That in conjunction with marks is a remarkably good indicator of how capable someone is at being a scientist. Not at being a programmer, but as has been hashed out a few times here last week, comp sci trains scientists, not programmers.

I think had mozart not been exposed to keyboarding until he was 20 he would have still excelled by the time he was 25. Just as we take kids who are 17 who've never even used a computer in african countries, some of whom never even had regular electricity (especially in from the indian sub continent and china), and by the time we're done with them they actually know something about how to be a computer scientist. Education exists to identify talent and build on it, which is why a broad public education includes a diverse range of things. I would say that it hasn't always been this way. Having the good fortune to be born rich made a huge difference 70 years ago and earlier. Since then we have made a massive coordinated effort to make sure everyone gets a shot in north america and europe at least.

Luck can elevate anyone talented to riches sure. But getting a PhD is an entirely achievement and demonstrable skills driven system luck only gets you so far. It can get you into a BSc, it can make you a billionaire, but it can't have you magically outperform 75% of the other people in the same programme for four years. You can certainly be talented and successful and *not* get a PhD, but you can't get a PhD without being talented. If you are bad we have 4 years to discover that you suck, and kick you out, we have every reason to turf out people who are bad (because that would ultimately negatively impact our reputation as a school) and we have every reason to only pick the talented ones from the undergrad lot.

I really do believe, from everything I've seen, that true intellectual talent is biological. You can direct it into a particular area. But I've seen 10 year olds doing grad school level maths because they really are that smart. At 10 years old most kids are still struggling with logarithms. Or multiplication tables. "Luck" or opportunity and environment can't take an average 10 year old and have them doing partial differential equations, nor can a parent (least of all if the parent can't do it themselves). There isn't a single kid in public school in the southern populated part of canada who, at 10, is denied the chance to do PhD level maths if they're capable.

Again though, you can have talent and be successful and not earn a PhD. But if you don't have natural, above average talent in the right area you won't get a PhD in that area. I'd bomb out completely in an drama doctorate just as they would mostly bomb out of comp sci. But if Mozart was born today, and never touched a piano until he was 17 he could certainly have earned a PhD if he wanted to and understood enough of the theory (which I don't, so I'm not qualified to judge how well his work would fit in that area). Which, incidentally, is the story with a lot of the people who have PhD's in comp sci who are in their mid to late 30's, because they didn't really get home computers, and only really got access to one in university.

grad school / PHD / is over kill for Most IT jobs (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317157)

grad school / PHD / is over kill for Most IT jobs and even CS is to much on the theory side.

Re:grad school / PHD / is over kill for Most IT jo (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317351)

Very true. If you're getting a PhD you're trying to do actual science, not just be an IT guy. hell if you want to be an IT guy you don't even need a BSc.

I did see a help desk job with masters preferred (4, Funny)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317397)

I did see a help desk job with masters preferred listed.

Re:I did see a help desk job with masters preferre (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40320891)

Depends on the help desk and the kind of things they are helping with if they actually need masters degree in some area.

Re:engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318525)

My god. I really want to see stats on that 170 BSc grads in canada. There were likely 2000 BSc grads from my one small college alone.

Re:engineer (0)

Mana Mana (16072) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319795)

Respectfully, man, I barely understood your post. I get the drift, but a little more editing next time, OK. Godspeed.

Re:engineer (4, Informative)

brunes69 (86786) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316761)

Every person I know who has a Computer Engineering degree makes less money than I do. I also work with people who have nothing more than tech school diplomas who make more than I do and frankly can run circles around myself.

When you graduate you will realize your degree is not what is important to be successful in the workforce. It is all about hard work, connections, raw talent, and a bit of good luck sprinkled in.

Signed, someone with a BCS degree.

Re:engineer (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316919)

I agree, where I work at I hire people with CS degrees to do annoying money work that I don't want to do.

Signed, someone that never finished high school.

Re:engineer (0, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317295)

Agreed. I hire 'educated' people to work on problems while I sit on a pile of money in my boat while fishing. Thanks university! Never went, but it must be fun there so you can be fucked over later in life!

Re:engineer (3, Interesting)

ff1324 (783953) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318183)

Many moons ago, I was a junior in college and chasing down CS as my bachelor's degree. One day, I decided I'd had enough arguing with machines. Now, as a firefighter, I love coming to work, and make more than most of my friends who continued on to CS degrees.

Today?

I'm doing the IT / programming / database / GIS work for my fire department...still arguing with machines, but now its enhanced by arguing with bureaucrats.

Re:engineer (1)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318287)

It might make a bit of difference *where* you got your degree from. but I'll agree that connections are king.
(Interestingly, the former often can effect the latter.)

When I graduated ... (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316405)

... I did not graduated with a comp sci bachelor degree

I graduated with a EE degree, simply because the courses in comp sci in my university was more towards software and I was more interesting in hardware
 

Re:When I graduated ... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316497)

Well you certainly didn't graduate with an English degree!

Re:When I graduated ... (1)

bky1701 (979071) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318495)

I have a Cambodian Ph.D! No, no, not a Ph.D in Cambodian...

Interesting but... (4, Informative)

madprof (4723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316475)

The first taught computing course in the world was at Cambridge University, UK in 1953. Why not be a little more international in outlook?

Re:Interesting but... (5, Informative)

mister_dave (1613441) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316563)

Why not be a little more international in outlook?

If you read the article, it is:

For reasons of space, I limited the question to American universities, but computer historian and former IEEE Computer Society president Michael R. Williams points out that many universities worldwide were offering CS degrees by this period. He received his own PhD in CS from the University of Glasgow in 1968. He believes Glasgow’s program dates as far back as 1957, since he was an invited speaker at its 40th anniversary in 1997.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316627)

I stand corrected on that point, thank you.

Re:Interesting but... (2)

KPU (118762) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317209)

Reasons of space? "Cambridge University" is indeed longer than "Purdue" but the difference is less than the excuse takes.

Re:Interesting but... (2)

Jay L (74152) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317511)

No, you misunderstood the reasoning. The United States takes up more space than England.

Re:Interesting but... (1)

laejoh (648921) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320701)

There's a your mom joke in your comment somewhere!

Re:Interesting but... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317395)

On the other hand, you wouldn't graduate with a computer science degree. Compsci remained part of the natsci course for a long time. Three quarters of the first year is still shared between the two.

Cambridge Math Lab, CS (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318709)

The first hard CS school was in fact Mil Inteligence at Bletchley Park, Allen Turing and, John von Neuman, of Princeton were the founder thinkers, later joined by Chris Streachy. The Universities of Cambridge and Manchester, Tom Kilburn and Maurice Wilkes, created nescent departments at their universities, and Wilkes aided by David Needham and Sir Peter Swinnerton-Dyer founded the Cambridge Maths Lab in the late 1950s. Joined with distinguished continental colleagues, eg Edsger Dijkstra formed a nexus of excellence in Europe. ... Martin Richards taught the first BCPL course at MIT, 19 while on sabatical 1970, and via PDP10 ports becam widespread.

MFG, omb

Re:Cambridge Math Lab, CS (1)

madprof (4723) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320139)

Is this one of those anti-accuracy trolls? :) If so, it's brilliant. I take my hat off to you sir. I could never have done this.

And some of us ... (1)

Kittenman (971447) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316487)

... don't have a degree in anything. Just graduates from the school of hard knocks.

Who Cares (-1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40316511)

Comp Sci was created for those who weren't smart enough to PhD EE.

Re:Who Cares (1)

Taco Cowboy (5327) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316609)

EE and Comp Sci, while related, aren't the same

EE is more towards the hardware side while Comp Sci is more on the software side

And I've met with brilliant folks from both the EE and the Comp Sci, and some of them even have earned both degrees (bachelor Comp Sci, master/phd EE, for example)

Re:Who Cares (4, Insightful)

niftydude (1745144) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316765)

Exactly what I was about to point out. I have a PhD in EE (microelectronics), and a bachelor comp sci, the two things could not be more far removed.

The PhD in EE was all about things like the physical properties of materials (especially silicon), chemistry, properties of plasmas in a vacuum, etc. the comp sci degree was more about coding algorithms,apis, multitasking and other operating systems concepts.

Both things are useful to me, and gave me completely different skill sets.

Re:Who Cares (4, Insightful)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316963)

Comp sci grew very much out of different departments, some places (like waterloo) it's an extension of maths, some places it's physics, some places it's engineering. But you're right, as a discipline comp sci is concerned much more with what is theoretically computable and how complex that is, how you logically envision that problem and how you organize and represent information. Computer engineering is much more about the problem of building all of the components and how they get soldered together.

Though I grant there are computer scientists who do research on what is computable on real hardware only, and engineers (and physicists) who think about hardware that could be used to solve problems not normally regarded as computable or computable in a particular time. Part of doing research is that you solve a problem and what discipline it happens to be belong to is secondary.

Re:Who Cares (2)

blindseer (891256) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319451)

EE is more towards the hardware side while Comp Sci is more on the software side

It's more than that. Engineering disciplines are different than the science disciplines. Engineering majors will be required to take courses on the engineering process that are merely optional for a student of computer science.

Years ago I found myself with a BSEE and no job. At the time it seemed like every job interview ended with, "Thanks for your time but we're looking for someone with more programming experience." It didn't take me long to realize that I needed to go back to school.

I talked to a student counselor about my options and it quickly became a choice between a major in computer science or computer engineering. The computer science course took me on the path of a lot of math courses, computer architecture, and (since it was a major in the Liberal Arts college) things like public speaking, foreign languages, and such. In the computer engineering program, and electrical engineering program, I was offered courses on software design along with the other courses on programming languages.

Where I went to school it was possible to take a nearly identical set of courses while majoring in either the electrical engineering or computer science. The difference was that the courses on the design process, good engineering practice, and so on, were required in electrical and computer engineering where in computer science the mind set was more on gaining a wide knowledge set in programming languages, mathematics, and theory.

In other words, computer science focused on the "what" while engineering focused on the "how".

At the time I recall hearing people talk about how recruiters were looking for electrical engineers to be programmers. This was because electrical engineers were taught good design practice along with a lot of computer theory. The computer science majors typically knew the language the recruiters were looking for but it was much easier to teach someone a programming language than teach them good design practice after getting the job.

I believe this is where the software engineering program came from where I went to school. There was a demand for people that both knew the programming languages and good design practice. The computer science program was not teaching people this. Rather than turn the computer science program into something it was not intended to be they created a new program to fill in the hole.

I realize my experience may be somewhat unique. Some colleges have treated computer science more like what we now know as software engineering for a very long time.

Also, don't think that I'm knocking the computer science majors out there. We need computer scientists. The problem was that people were going into computer science thinking they were going to learn how to engineer software. Employers found out quickly that students in computer science weren't being taught good engineering practice. I feel sorry for all of those people that were essentially duped by so many about what computer science meant, both the students and the hiring managers.

Re:Who Cares (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319647)

Computer Science was created by the foremost minds of yesteryear, with hideous amounts of resources, to solve problems that the human mind would find either tedious, impossible, or both.

To reiterate my point, it was created because the Physicists, Mathematicians, and Electrical Engineers of half a century ago had hit a brick wall, and needed something new to help themselves over it. I believe Einstein, Feynman, and friends were among those people, using computers to perform yield calculations (and borrowing a fair amount of silver for the wiring of it (since copper was in short supply)). I'd provide a direct link, but Google is being less than helpful.

So, yes, if you consider Einstein and Feynman to be not smart enough for a PhD in EE, sure, then Computer Science was created for the less intelligent. If you do think they are smart enough for a PhD in EE, then what does that say about your comment?

Computer Science is the melding of over seven different fields, with a lot of knowledge / wisdom unique to itself. It's not easy, which is why CS people, like EE and others (who are in equally demanding fields), are in such high demand, and the stuff you do in it is mind-bending to say the least. Trying to explain a data structure to a laymen is like trying to explain a Bose-Einstein condensate or thermodynamics to the same.

Which reminds me. Nothing makes the engineers that I've known happier than having a computer scientist on their team (so they don't have to write their own code). I remember the EEs from my university receiving special dispensation to take one day out of a given senior CS class and give a presentation on their current projects, in an attempt to lure / persuade some CS people to join their teams and help fix their code. And they showed us some of their code, during that presentation...I want you to imagine 30,000 lines of if / else statements in C++. Had I the time, I would have helped them (senior year at my university, with my chosen tracks and lifestyle, was a little 'rough').

oooohhhhh CS degree...... (2)

harley78 (746436) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316569)

I would say my Uncle is/was a "computer Scientist". He graduated with a BS in Math in 1962 or so. Then did 6 years in the Marines(on AWACs). I'd say he fits the bill. No degree in CS though...

ACM out of touch (4, Interesting)

Animats (122034) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316605)

âoeAt an academic level, it's a very different background,â says Bobby Schnabel, Dean of the School of Informatics at Indiana University and chair of the ACMâ(TM)s Education Policy Committee. "The calculus and differential equations that underlie engineering are not what underlies computer science. It's really discrete mathematics."

That was true a few decades ago. Today, though, all that discrete math isn't as useful. Today, you need calculus and Bayesian statistics for machine learning. You need differential equations and computational geometry for game development and robotics. Number theory, mathematical logic, graph theory, and automata theory just aren't that important any more. Most of what's needed from those fields is now embodied in well-known algorithms.

I got all the classic discrete math training, but over the years, I've had to use far more number-crunching math.

Re:ACM out of touch (4, Insightful)

paskie (539112) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316909)

Basic automata theory is essential to software engineering - understanding capabilities of various computation models (what all can you do with a regex?), writing parsers and compilers, etc. Understanding basic graph theory (shortest paths, minimum spanning trees, bipartite graphs, maximum flows, coloring) is very important all across the field, from optimization to game development - sure it's well-known algorithms, but they are well-known only if you study and grok them. In the end, these really are the foundations of computer science and algorithmic thinking, while calculus etc. get useful when you get involved with real-world applications or simulations (or machine learning).

I'd agree that number theory is not that useful outside of crypto and anything regarding mathematical logic feels extremely old-fashioned in current AI research.

Re:ACM out of touch (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317317)

In my 14 years since I graduated in C.S., I wish I had taken more information theory (for crypto). I hated my finite automata class, but it ended up being quite useful (for serious parsers). And I needed differential equations even before I had taken the class (for scientific computing). I wish I had taken a class in signals processing. There simply isn't enough room in a four year degree for all the math one needs.

Re:ACM out of touch (2)

Sir_Sri (199544) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317009)

Sure, but there's still a lot of research on a automata theory and graph theory going on, it just depends on what field you land it and what problem is most needing solved where you are.

If you're making compilers for a living it's a very different job than if you're making user interface API's. And I have some friends who work for the same company, in the same building, on the same floor, where one does one, one does the other, and the skillsets required are completely different.

Re:ACM out of touch (2)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317051)

To me, design is an essential and unapreciated component of programming.

There arent many jobs where you just write big slabs of algorithms, it still requires a programmer to present the information as well.

When you implement mathematical algorthims, design is the difference between writing spageti code and low maintence code.

Students would be better served learning to appreciate design rather than learn more algorithms IMO.

Re:ACM out of touch (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320199)

Software design is part of Software Engineering, not Computer Science. Those two are about as different as Electrical Engineering and Physics.

Re:ACM out of touch (1)

bug1 (96678) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320299)

In my day Computer Science was run by Physics department

Re:ACM out of touch (1)

loufoque (1400831) | more than 2 years ago | (#40320353)

Then it wasn't really Computer Science. Computer Science is a theoretical field akin to Meta-Mathematics and Logic.

True, its main application is to solve problems, and the most complex and interesting problems are usually in Physics. But that's just an application, it's not what the discipline itself is.

Re:ACM out of touch (3, Interesting)

cryptizard (2629853) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317201)

Depends on what area of computer science you are in. For every field you point out that uses calculus I can point you to two more active areas of research that focus on discrete. Personally, I am in cryptography (which no one can argue as being "solved") where modern research still relies on new developments in the areas you downplay i.e number theory and graph theory (check out the new biclique attack on AES for an example).

I'll agree (on discrete math) (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40320985)

See subject-line above: Discrete Math's an INTERESTING course (& unlike any other math I'd ever taken, because it was more THINKING than just plain "by rote" algorithms - funny part was I had graph theory in the mix with it & other things that our professor told us "bordered on number theory")

However, like yourself:

I too found that the MOST of what I used was plain-jane number crunching mathematics (nothing algebra wouldn't get you through in other words) - that's from out of a MOSTLY data-processing standpoint in programming though!

(Where I concentrated my programmatic career efforts because most of the jobs out there were oriented towards business & are NEVER the same, because no companies do "exactly the same thing" in terms of data they have OR how they process it).

APK

P.S.=> There were 2 distinct degree tracks really: Straight Comp. Sci. (CSC - which had all the mathematics & this is what I pursued)

OR

The less "math-laden" one (CIS), which was actually geared towards MIS/IS (mgt. information systems/information systems/dataprocessing) - makes me wish I took the CIS track because I found some of the mathematics HARD & actual work!

Especially discrete math, which had elements of:\

---

1.) LOGIC (truth tables, & this I liked, well, not on LONGER proofs - even with the "shortcuts" possible)

2.) Graph theory

3.) Set theory (relations & such)

4.) Mapping

5.) Sequences

6.) Induction

7.) Recursion

8.) Counting techniques (ala Johnny Chan)

9.) Probability Theory

10.) Shortest Routes & Paths (I saw this in business degree I had too)

11.) Matrix Math

---

( & more - interesting & HARD stuff imo, but nothing I really ended up using, DIRECTLY, except for the shortest path work, in the CIS/MIS/IS/IT related coding work of information systems)... apk

Purdue was first in 1962... duh (2)

charnov (183495) | more than 2 years ago | (#40316653)

Purdue was first in 1962... and no I'm not THAT old and I didn't have to RTFA. I went there.

Re:Purdue was first in 1962... duh (1)

Darinbob (1142669) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317881)

Not a surprising answer really.

When I applied to schools in 1980, I noted that Stanford did not have an undergraduate computer science degree which seemed a bit ironic considering that so many CS advances came from Stanford.

The thing is, what "computer science" meant was not a very well defined thing. It could be computational theory at some schools, or it could be an engineering program at others, or a mathematical elective at others.

Re:Purdue was first in 1962... duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318083)

Cal Tech didn't have one then either. I don't know about MIT.

Re:Purdue was first in 1962... duh (3, Informative)

Yobgod Ababua (68687) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318339)

Hells, Caltech still didn't have a CS degree in 1995.

Our "CS" undergrads had to slide in under the fairly broad "Engineering and Applied Science" umbrella or else stick out the more stringent requirements (EE151, AMa95, etc) of a straight EE degree with a focus on "Computing". There were CS courses and professors, but no degree plan.

Re:Purdue was first in 1962... duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317957)

Boiler up!

Re:Purdue was first in 1962... duh (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318503)

We know you didn't read the article, it's /. afterall

Ok when the did the tech schools had degree as par (1)

Joe_Dragon (2206452) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317183)

Ok when the did the tech schools had degree as part them???

Yes there is a need for tech schools but maybe the not the degree part.

Maybe they will be better off not being tied down to rules cover by degrees and can be more about teaching real job skills.

BA Mathematics (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317623)

I began studying computer science and realized I should have pursued a BA Mathematics so I changed majors. The mathematics degree has proven far more useful and those computer science courses with a mathematical foundation (discrete structures, discrete mathematics, compilers, algorithm analysis, databases, and data structures). The computer programming courses were dull and boring because I had already taught myself several programming languages before beginning university; I was helping other students in the computer labs after completing my own assignments within hours of them being issued by the professors or their teaching assistants.

Lately... (1)

underqualified (1318035) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317723)

Especially with the fresh grad hires with BSCS degrees, there seems to be more BS than CS.

It's been said & proven (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40317903)

CS is a new and brilliant approach based on mathematics to an idea which never existed in any person's head until von neumann & turing and even lady ada before. It's a new science which literally changes every day.

Get the degree : It's _so so so _ worth it

When colleges started to have computers (1)

shoor (33382) | more than 2 years ago | (#40317907)

I wrote my first, very simple computer program around 1966 in a class in numerical analysis when I was an undergraduate math major. I was going to a small liberal arts college, less than 2000 students. The college computer was a PDP 8. You bought decks of cards, punched them up with your program and submitted them to a clerk in the Admin Building and hoped the thing would run. In the mid-1970s, after a hitch in the Navy, I went back to school at a somewhat larger place on the GI Bill. We timeshared on a Univac 1108 in another county, but, at least we had terminals, at first uniscopes, later hazeltines. You could also still use punch cards if you wanted to. But that was when it was even feasible to offer a computer science degree.

Should be renamed (2, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40318427)

Computer science now has "routes", "track", or "emphasis". C.S. with emphasis on Web, or Security, or Artificial Intelligence, or Crypto, or Machine Learning, or Software Engineering, or General/Mathematics, or Foundational/Theoretical. So I can tell an employer, "Yea, I am a computer scientist. But only the kind that works with web tech. I don't know enough about Embedded systems to get your water pumps working in sync, sorry!" I've even seen a "Developer" track offered. Hmm.

What's going on is these degrees are really just teach the current industry and market. Theory is shoved aside to make room for immediately practical skill, so the uni. can say "last year 98% of our c.s. grads got jobs". But 98% of their c.s. grads can only write Android apps or work with Joomla templates, so wtf does that mean for the future of our digital era? Not shit. I shouldn't have to commit myself to the Crypto track to get insider knowledge on Information theory, right? Shouldn't that be general knowledge to any C.S. grad ?? So I say put those "industry now" topics into survey courses as track electives, or assign them to a different degree altogether, or perhaps as a double major or minor. Then I can graduate with a B.S. in C.S. with a A.S. in web tech, or a double B.S. in CIS security, right?

I am going back to school this fall to finish my B.S. in C.S. degree after switching from religious studies to philosophy to C.S.. Can you imagine I only need 2 upper level math classes to graduate from this particular university? I have to double up with a maths major to get what I think is sufficient material for what I imagine a professional computer scientist ought to know .... it's ridiculous the way this stuff is run these days...

mod up! (Re:Should be renamed) (1)

DrEasy (559739) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319385)

Someone please mod this up!

Re:Should be renamed (1)

lightknight (213164) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319705)

Depends. Supposedly, at the university I attended, Software Engineers took one course from every track, while Computer Scientists took 3 from two tracks (for a total of six). In my case, I took Operating Systems (threading + the linux kernel) and Machine Vision / Graphics (designing GUIs + implementing mathematical algorithms for drawing images...in Java *shudders*). I already had experience with OpenGl, so not having a class in it was not a major issue; although doing image work in Java nearly made me break down in (manly) tears.

But then, any capable Computer Scientist should be able to come up to speed with unfamiliar information fairly quickly, so the tracks aren't a major issue.

I do agree, however, that CS degrees need to be more...inclusive / deeper than they often times are. I find nothing more disturbing than a CS graduate who doesn't know, or appreciate, the difference between an Intel and an AMD processor. And they need to learn more IT, at least at the place I graduated from. But then, the material for many of the classes needs to be rewritten, but no one has the time or understanding how to actually improve it.

Hmmm, then by [mathematical] induction (1)

recharged95 (782975) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318547)

"Sheldon-like snobbish mathematicians who look down on CS majors as failed math majors."

Hence, I can conclude that Physicists are lazy math majors. I can vouch for that at least :)

I think I have the answer (1)

hyades1 (1149581) | more than 2 years ago | (#40318893)

"Which U.S. college offered the first CS degree?"

I believe it was Jerry Falwell's Liberty Christian University. But the computer was an abacus, and it could only count up to 6,000.

Re:I think I have the answer (1)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40320849)

> I believe it was Jerry Falwell's Liberty Christian University. But the computer was an abacus, and it could only count up to 6,000.

As subscribers to the theory of intelligent design, Liberty doesn't believe the modern computer "evolved" from the abacus - certain features of the abacus and of a modern computer are best explained by an intelligent cause, not an undirected process such as natural selection.

Northeastern in Boston: the first College of C.S. (1)

jabberw0k (62554) | more than 2 years ago | (#40319551)

From http://www.ccs.neu.edu/about/index.html [neu.edu] --

Northeastern created the nation’s first college devoted to computer science in 1982, and today’s College of Computer and Information Science remains a national leader in education and research innovation...

I graduated with the first five-year class of NUCCS in 1988. Five years because Co-Op experience was mandatory and built into the curriculum. Freshmen and Sophomores used Pascal; by Middler (3d year) you had to take the 1-credit "lab" course in C to move into the Operating Systems track. We also had VAX Assembler and FORTRAN... Until 1985, the whole University's enrollment system still ran on punch-cards.

Other degrees accepted in 70s (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 2 years ago | (#40320787)

I remember software job postings in the 70s that suggested a variety of acceptable degrees, including Philosophy, Logic, Rhetoric, and the like.

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