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Computer Science vs. Software Engineering

timothy posted about a year ago | from the distinction-vs-difference dept.

Education 322

theodp writes "Microsoft's promotion of Julie Larson-Green to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering in the wake of Steven Sinofsky's resignation is reopening the question of what is the difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering. According to their bios on Microsoft's website, Sinofsky has a master's degree in computer science from the University of Massachusetts Amherst and an undergraduate degree with honors from Cornell University, while Larson-Green has a master's degree in software engineering from Seattle University and a bachelor's degree in business administration from Western Washington University. A comparison of the curricula at Sinofsky's and Larson-Green's alma maters shows there's a huge difference between UMass's MSCS program and Seattle U's MSE program. So, is one program inherently more compatible with Microsoft's new teamwork mantra?"

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322 comments

Engineer is better fit to lead product development (5, Insightful)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014287)

In my opinion CS majors have always been the philosopher kind who like to nit-pick every angle of development. Product development leadership requires someone more practical as an engineer.

Re:Engineer is better fit to lead product developm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014367)

Computer scientists understand what P=NP means and software engineers try to make people think they are smart by talking/acting as if they know means.

Discrete Math's not a requirement? (0, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014509)

That's where you cover that, & you do it as early as an AAS degree in CSC, in NY State @ least, by your 2nd year/Senior Year in the "SUNY" System... & the BEST COURSE during that, imo @ least? DataStructures!

* So this "masters in software engineering" doesn't HAVE that? I wonder if the "masters in CSC" does. IF they don't?? They ought to... it makes you *THINK*, not even like any other math out there imo.

(I thought it was hard too personally).

APK

P.S.=> I've got their undergrad degree (B.S., Business Admin + MIS concentration/minor) & am currently 90/120 credits built toward the B.S. in CSC (However - I don't have a masters in CSC or SE)...

Why?

Well, for example/instance: I've seen the coursework MBA's do for the Masters in Business is why - it's TOO "10,000 ft. view" & NOT DETAILED ENOUGH!

(Helped my brother during studies for his MBA & he was like "You did this stuff 20++ yrs. ago & STILL remember it?" & I was like "Well, yea - how can you USE it, IF you didn't COMMIT it?").

Hence, why I went for the 2nd degree in STRAIGHT CSC instead (more detail, & I took more languages than it required for the AAS work (60 cr. hrs.)), so I had more "detail"... & learned more (to me, that IS the TRUE BOTTOM-LINE on any degree)...

... apk

Re:Discrete Math's not a requirement? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014565)

Go suck a dick.

Re:Discrete Math's not a requirement? (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014641)

How about I SUCK YOURS?

(I've sucked a lot of cocks in my life, but NEVER a slashdotters.)

Why?

*because I usually have people come over to my basement so I can suck cocks while posting about HOSTS files.

(People sometimes ask: how I can DO BOTH at once. But when I have 20++ yrs experience shitposting/cocksucking, is second nature.)

My brother asked me to SUCK OFF a few FRAT BROS when I was younger and I was like "Well, yea - how can you MASTER it, IF you didn't COMMIT to it?"

Hence, to stay in shape, I'll gladly SUCK YOUR DICK with more power than any "WOMEN" could (men give the best head because they know what feels nice on a cock).

...apk

Trying to "impersonate" ME? Please... lol! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014683)

You can stop - you don't do a good job of it even! That's not even "original thinking" on YOUR part, troll!

* As in that is "not a 1st" here on /., in trolls *trying* to impersonate me & my "inimitable style"...

APK

P.S.=> PUNY TROLLS - they're ALL THE SAME, easy to "burn" even & resorting to their 'childish games'...

... apk

Re:Trying to "impersonate" ME? Please... lol! (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014717)

Fake APK, you are fake.

Time for "ReVeRsE-PsyChoLoGy", lol... apk (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014943)

".ekaf era uoy ,KPA ekaF" - by Anonymous Coward ANOTHER "ne'er-do-well" /. OFF-TOPIC TROLL on Saturday November 17, @04:42PM (#42014717)

"???"

Uhm... Could we get a translation of that off-topic "troll-speak/trolllanguage" of yours, please?

---

* And, you're an off-topic troll - no questions asked...

APK

P.S.=> Yes, it must have just have been another off-topic done nothing of significance with his life troll spewing his off-topic b.s. again & not contributing to the ongoing conversations. Oh well - No biggie!

("ReVeRsE-PsYcHoLoGy", for trolls - Courtesy of this code by "yours truly" in less than 1 second flat):

---

#TrollTalkComReversePsychologyKiller.py (Ver #2 by APK)

def reverse(s):
    try:
        trollstring = ""
        for apksays in s:
        trollstring = apksays + trollstring
    except:
        print("error/abend in reverse function")
    return trollstring

s = ""
print reverse(s)

try:
  s = "Insert whatever 'trollspeak/trolllanguage' gibberish occurs here..."
  s = reverse(s)
  print(s)
except Exception as e:
  print(e)

---

... apk

a C pRoGrAm 4 U (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42015023)

#define SUCK void
#include
#define MY main()
#define DICK {
#define DUMB printf("fuck you);
#define BITCH }
#define FUCK SUCK MY DICK
#define YOU DUMB BITCH
FUCK YOU

Quit "projecting" your own "'StRaNgE' tastes" and (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014655)

Take your own advice (since you enjoy "the flavor" (lol)), troll...

* LMAO, @ U...

APK

Re:Quit "projecting" your own "'StRaNgE' tastes" a (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014707)

Disregard this comment, it is not the real APK. This (http://developers.slashdot.org/comments.pl?sid=3258205&cid=42014641 [slashdot.org]) is the real APK.

Another application of "ReVeRsE-PsyChoLoGy" (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014957)

".KPA laer eht si )]gro.todhsals[ 14641024=dic&5028523=dis?lp.stnemmoc/gro.todhsals.srepoleved//:ptth( sihT .KPA laer eht ton si ti ,tnemmoc siht dragersiD" - by Anonymous Coward ANOTHER "ne'er-do-well" /. OFF-TOPIC TROLL on Saturday November 17, @04:40PM (#42014707)

"???"

Uhm... Could we get a translation of that off-topic "troll-speak/trolllanguage" of yours, please?

---

* And, you're an off-topic troll - no questions asked...SEE MY SUBJECT LINE ABOVE!

APK

P.S.=> Yes, it must have just have been another off-topic done nothing of significance with his life troll spewing his off-topic b.s. again & not contributing to the ongoing conversations. Oh well - No biggie!

("ReVeRsE-PsYcHoLoGy", for trolls - Courtesy of this code by "yours truly" in less than 1 second flat):

---

#TrollTalkComReversePsychologyKiller.py (Ver #2 by APK)

def reverse(s):
    try:
        trollstring = ""
        for apksays in s:
        trollstring = apksays + trollstring
    except:
        print("error/abend in reverse function")
    return trollstring

s = ""
print reverse(s)

try:
  s = "Insert whatever 'trollspeak/trolllanguage' gibberish occurs here..."
  s = reverse(s)
  print(s)
except Exception as e:
  print(e)

---

... apk

a C pRoGrAm 4 U (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42015039)

#define SUCK void
#include <stdio.h>
#define MY main()
#define DICK {
#define DUMB printf("fuck you);
#define BITCH }
#define FUCK SUCK MY DICK
#define YOU DUMB BITCH
FUCK YOU

Re:Engineer is better fit to lead product developm (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014675)

Yes, computer scientists understand all unsolved problems but can't prove them :P

Re:Engineer is better fit to lead product developm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014731)

Pretty much this, and they make the same money - sometimes less because they sense of algorithmic philosophics prevent them from delivering on time/in budget/on target. If you have a CS background and are in software development ur doing it wrong (overpaid for your education).

Re:Engineer is better fit to lead product developm (4, Interesting)

Lumpy (12016) | about a year ago | (#42014857)

Computer Scientists create things like linux.
Software Engineers create things like Windows 8.

Not trolling, This is a complete fact. Far more high level CS degrees are working on linux and OSS than Windows 8.

Re:Engineer is better fit to lead product developm (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014933)

No, computer scientists create things like the internet, LISP, and object-oriented programming.

Software engineers create products like Linux and Windows 8.

as if (5, Insightful)

iamagloworm (816661) | about a year ago | (#42014289)

as if the schools these guys went to makes a difference? their skills are learned from experience working in the industry and their value is in using their judgement based on that experience to make the best choices.

Re:as if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014391)

True story.
I am a computer science student but I do internship as a software engineer.

Re:as if (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014415)

In most cases that's true. Based on the comments at http://minimsft.blogspot.com/ [blogspot.com], it's the politics and social networking at Microsoft that matter much more under Ballmer's regime, not solely the technical competence. Having said that, there are some pretty rough reviews of her technical skills and the path she took to the top.

Re:as if (5, Insightful)

Dahamma (304068) | about a year ago | (#42014523)

Yep, these are senior executives with a thousand or more people reporting to them who spend most of their time in meetings. The details of computer science or engineering classes they took in college 30 years ago are pretty much irrelevant to their current jobs.

And it's especially true in this case, as personal computers were in their infancy when they were in college, anyway. Trying to compare two programs based on what they are *today* makes no sense when they graduated in the 80's.

Re:as if (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014561)

Who takes this bullshit "opinion piece" seriously anyway? He tries to force some kind of view on things, and pull out something by its hairs, that isn't there.

The whole thing is nonsense, and in fact, just like with trolling (which this probably is), we shouldn't even be discussing it.
Hell, we shouldn't even acknowledge the existence of TFA/TFS.
.
.
How did I get here? What are we talking about? Can I pick something?
How about creating a lobby just for us, with the power of hacking an social engineering and tech knowledge combined?
Yes, I think that's a vastly more fruitful topic than anything Slashdot has to offer right now. (Not that that it was hard.)

Re:as if (2)

eric31415927 (861917) | about a year ago | (#42014601)

This is the same in most industries. A degree from any number of schools gets one an interview. Experience and ability gets one a job.

Re:as if (1)

iamagloworm (816661) | about a year ago | (#42014699)

not to mention that i also just looked at their bios and larson-green has worked at microsoft for 19 years and sinofsky 23 years. these are not jobs where you send in your resume and a cover letter about how good you are.

It's the difference between science and tech. (1)

Pseudonym Authority (1591027) | about a year ago | (#42014315)

Computer science, is a ... science. It's concerned with algorithms, factorials, LISP, Turing machines, and all sorts of other crazy awesome shit. Software engineering is concerned with Ruby on Rails and Wordpress.

If CS were called engineering, SE would be called mechanics.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014337)

Yet for the most part in my experience, most CS grads coming out of school end up getting the same programming gig.

At a high level CS may have at one point been about the science of computing. At this point, unless you go to an ivy league school it has become a trade.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (4, Informative)

vux984 (928602) | about a year ago | (#42014385)

Same as any other science degree.

Most grads in math, physics, chemistry also end up doing relatively "mundane" jobs. A degree in bio-chem and you can be a lab technician. A degree in geology and you analyze oil drill results. Physics degree -- you might end up working on radio antennae...

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#42015075)

I don't know anyone who did studies in math, physics or chemistry but who didn't end up doing teaching or research-like work in their respective fields (well there was a guy who studied physics who ended up doing bio-chemistry, but it was because they were interested in the effects of lasers on their stuff).

Then again I don't know anyone who studied those fields and stopped before getting a MSc.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014439)

The bachelor-level curriculum of CS, like that of Engineering and a lot of other STEM fields, requires one to learn a lot of shit they'll never use. Even then doing well in school doesn't mean that one is that smart or useful in the field. As far as engineering goes, I for one don't understand why mechanical engineers have to pass dynamics, thermodynamics, and differential equations just to draw gears and hinges all day (which, admit it, is what most mechanical engineers do).

Same goes for computer science. All the wheels have been invented, so it makes no sense to be forced to do shit like proofs and set theory. And both computer scientists and engineers still can't speak clear English or use apostrophes correctly, even the native American ones write like a Chinese doctor's Google translation of a technical process.

Software engineering, at least in the U.S., is just computer science-lite with a bunch of bloviating buzzwords.

-- Ethanol-fueled

OT: Mech. Eng. requirements (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014605)

I for one don't understand why mechanical engineers have to pass dynamics, thermodynamics, and differential equations just to draw gears and hinges all day (which, admit it, is what most mechanical engineers do).

Dynamics is very important for mechanical engineers, especially once those gears start moving, and even more so if fluids are part of the design, such as in some automobile brakes.

As for thermodynamics, my guess is that there are enough employers out there who have jobs that require both thermodynamics and a mechanical engineer that it makes sense to keep it as part of the curriculum, even if the vast majority of graduates will never use it again once they leave school.

As for Differential Equations, it can give another way of looking at the math behind the engineering besides "lower" math like calculus or trigonometry. Having more than one way to look at a problem usually increases the likelihood of understanding it.

Oh, and then there's the cynical reason why most 4-year degree programs have classes that students will never use after graduation: It puts a "you have to be THIS smart and work THIS hard to graduate with a FOUR-YEAR-DEGREE from OUR-SCHOOL. And oh by the way you also had to be THIS-RICH or THIS-HARD-WORKING-IN-YOUR-PART-TIME-JOB to afford tuition or THIS-MUCH-SMARTER or PLAY-SPORTS-VERY-WELL to get a scholarship."

The less cynical reason is that a 4-year degree is more than just a trade school. A bachelor's degree really is meant as a general education of 4 years beyond high school with a concentration in a particular area of study sufficient to prepare the student for graduate school in that area of study.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (5, Insightful)

gtall (79522) | about a year ago | (#42014873)

I see you don't get the point of college education. It is supposed to stretch your mental capabilities so that when confronted with a new situation, you aren't without the mental faculties to understand and master it. Why should CS majors learn calculus? Because mathematical reasoning is important, and many CS people rub shoulders with engineers. You want to talk to them and be useful, learn your calculus...well.

Higher Education is just that Higher Education. It is not Trade School Skill Boot Camp so you can regurgitate the latest buzzwords MS and the rest of their ilk cram down managers throats.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (2, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42014373)

Computer science, is a ... science

Only in the old sense of the word "science," i.e. "knowledge," but then software engineering would also be "science." CS is not about gathering data then forming a theory; it is about developing logic systems from a set of basic assumptions (e.g. the semantics of your programming language, or of a theoretical computational system like a Turing Machine or Lambda Calculus). That would be mathematics (which at one time would have been called "science" as well). CS is a particular branch of mathematics: the branch that is concerned with computational methods, which was originally developed as part of an attempt to classify all mathematics in terms of symbolic manipulation (but which ultimately led to a proof that not all mathematics is symbolic manipulation).

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014837)

Empirical studies are a big part of computer science, because the worst case time complexity of Quicksort for example is an interesting fact, but what you really want to know is how it performs on the data in your application. While it is interesting to know that the Halting Problem is undecidable, computer scientists are nevertheless working on ways to find whether programs will run to completion (or have other generally undecidable properties), because for many real world programs there are in fact answers that are quite useful. Computer science is not axiomatic, i.e. built from the ground up. It is just as much about observing and explaining real world systems, like modeling big computer networks. In particular, CS is not a branch of mathematics, but uses it, a lot.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (1)

loufoque (1400831) | about a year ago | (#42015067)

Engineering is actually the science of applying fundamental science for practical applications.
So it's science too.

Using Ruby on Rails is not engineering, it's just development.

Re:It's the difference between science and tech. (1)

afgam28 (48611) | about a year ago | (#42015069)

That's not really been my experience. If you think that Software Engineering is concerned with RoR and WordPress, then no offense or anything but you probably have a narrow understanding of the (computing) world and lack breadth in your studies and experience.

Computer Science, like science in general, attempts to expand human understanding of a field of study. So Computer Scientists spend a lot of time exploring new things. For this reason, they rarely talk about Turing Machines. Some do, but most don't - they've been studied to death already and there's relatively little left to discover about them. How often do you see new papers about LISP or Turing Machines? Most Computer Scientists I know research things like Machine Learning and Computer Vision.

The term Software Engineer gets thrown around a lot, and the meaning depends a lot on who is using the term. At my company, Software Engineers are concerned with things like performance/scalability and reliability. For example, have we got redundant systems in place in case a data center goes down? And will the algorithms we use handle peak expected loads?

The key difference is that CS is about finding out about things that people don't already know. SE is about building thats that are immediately useful to people. The equivalent to mechanics is called "IT".

CS is Math, SE is an application (4, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42014329)

Computer science is a branch of mathematics; software engineering is a collection of methods for applying that math in the "real world." Software engineering is not about state machines, compilers, programming languages, parallel algorithms, etc.; it is about how to use write "concrete" implementations of such things in a way that makes sense for real-world computation.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (4, Insightful)

iamhassi (659463) | about a year ago | (#42014383)

Science is "why", engineering is "how". Science studies why things are the way they are, while engineering just accepts the way things are and works with that. That said, would rather have a scientist, since they understand things better.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42014427)

Eh, most computer scientists are not going to be able to develop a system that meets specifications by a deadline unless they also have software engineering skills. I know expert cryptographers who can barely implement a working software system and who have no idea how to make software for use in real applications. Computer science research projects are usually "write only" software that can only be used by the person that wrote it, because it is written without regard to anything beyond proving a particular point or idea (so-called "grad student code," at least at my institution).

So really, for a real-world project, you probably a (good) software engineer.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (3, Interesting)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#42014911)

Eh, most computer scientists are not going to be able to develop a system that meets specifications by a deadline unless they also have software engineering skills. ...which in practice are taught in nearly all computer science undergraduate programs. So anyone currently claiming some superiority of SEers over CSers is likely just trying to prop their own degree.

I've developed shipping code for companies as well as research projects at university. Research code is write-only since it is not worth architecting properly something that is meant for one time use, not because of some supposed lack of software engineering skills.

Heck! a good software engineer is equally likely to program a write only perl script to do a one time migration of their system.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42015077)

I have a question, for those who actually have some real world experience with this.

If most CS and SE grads have four year degrees, and they spent the first two doing gened courses like every bachelors degree, then how much practical difference is there really between them on only two years of differentiation, in related fields?

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014753)

False dichotomy. INTENTIONAL false dichotomy. (= lying for the purpose of manipulation)

We have, and need not only both scientists and engineers, but everything else there is too. Like teachers, software *users*, testers, designers, etc, etc, etc.
And it's rather beautiful that we have such a complete set of jobs for every aspect of the system.

Need I say more?

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014815)

Science is "why", engineering is "how".

Not really. Science is finding out how/why and engineering is applying that knowledge.

If you want to study computing devices and how they relate to computing methods (or implement them) then you're talking about computer science.

Software engineering is exactly that - building things. It helps a lot if you know how to build things well, but you can build software poorly (knowing nothing of computer science) and still be a "software engineer."

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014593)

Engineering is, by definition "applied science".
As a professional, licenced, software engineer I can tell you that we did nearly identical core math theory to CS majors, including state machines, compliers, theory of computer languages etc. However we had much less choice of electives because we were also required to develop in three other key areas that were optional in CS:
1. Basic sciences (Physics, Chem, Bio) in order to have the fundimental understanding required to work effectively on a multi-diciplinary team
2. Software Quality (theory & practice)
3. Project Management

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (1)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#42014657)

Computer science is a branch of mathematics;

False. Mathematics does not care about grounding or motivation in reality. Computer science without grounding in reality is math, computer science with grounding in reality is how should I put this, computer science.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42014855)

Mathematics does not care about grounding or motivation in reality

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Numerical_analysis [wikipedia.org]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Applied_mathematics [wikipedia.org]

Also,

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Curry-Howard_Isomorphism [wikipedia.org]

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (2, Insightful)

Alomex (148003) | about a year ago | (#42014949)

As to N.A. and A.M if you ask most mathematician they will tell you those fields are not really math.

The Curry-Howard link is neither here nor there. Math is applied routinely in many sciences, and is often inspired by reality (more so in the past that recently) yet this has never been central to what math is.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (2)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42015083)

As to N.A. and A.M if you ask most mathematician they will tell you those fields are not really math.

Except for those mathematicians who work in applied fields of math, who will tell you that they are mathematicians. Not that people could be biased or anything like that, or that experts might not agree on how to define their field.

The Curry-Howard link is neither here nor there. Math is applied routinely in many sciences,

The Curry-Howard correspondence is not a statement about an application of math in computer science. In simple terms, the correspondence is this: a mathematical proof can be converted into a computer program, and a computer program can be converted into a proof of some mathematical statement. Yes, there are some technicalities here (e.g. a program with an infinite loop), but this is not just some application of math to computer science, it is a fundamental link.

Re:CS is Math, SE is an application (1)

gtall (79522) | about a year ago | (#42014941)

Yes and no. Many mathematical disciplines were invented because some physicists or engineers were trying to solve a real world problem. At some indistinct point, the mathematics involved becomes a discipline unto itself. The deep problems are mathematical but they got driven by real world considerations. It also can flow in the opposite direction, number theory starts out from mere counting for taxes and commerce. It progresses until it is involve with problems that have nothing to do with its origins. But then computers and security become important, and suddenly, abstract number theory which had no claim to the real world except in an abstract sense, become vitally important for real systems.

The universe is wild place, there are rarely sharp-edged corners dividing academic disciplines.

From a network engineer (0)

AlphaWolf_HK (692722) | about a year ago | (#42014351)

To me Computer Science speaks of people who might want to design a new integrated circuit or otherwise do some kind of hard hacking, whereas software engineering refers to people who like to make said hardware do new tricks.

If Microsoft is sticking to the operating system department, I would figure the software engineer might be better qualified.

I'd say computer science would come into play when it comes to designing the surface tablet, except Microsoft isn't in the business of designing the bits and pieces, just the overall form factor. The bits and pieces come from the likes of intel, samsung, etc.

Re:From a network engineer (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014379)

Computer Science is a branch of mathematics. It's theoretical, and purely in the realm of software. Computer Engineering is the discipline that does hardware.

Back in the good old days .......... (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014355)

I don't know about America, but in India, when I graduated in in '98, Computer Science/Engineering meant learning both hardware (chip designs, architecture, programming for 8086, 286, 386 and other peripheral chips, studying hardware designs of computers and motherboards, right from AND, OR and NOT gates) and software (designing languages, operating systems, programming in C, C++, VB etc.)

USA in the same time-frame (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014637)

In America in the late 1990s some accredited (4-year degree from a reputable institution) CS-only and Software-engineering-only programs did very little hardware design unless you took those courses as elective. You probably got to play with AND, OR, and NOT gates but it wasn't geared to teaching you how to design circuits beyond a minimal level of complexity.

Other CS and SE programs were really computer-engineering or computer-science-engineering programs under a different name and they got the hardware elements you mentioned.

I haven't kept up with the times, so I don't know what the current program requirements are at reputable, degree-granting institutions today.

Scientists versus Engineers (3, Insightful)

Okian Warrior (537106) | about a year ago | (#42014361)

An engineer uses his tools and techniques to solve problems.

A scientist invents new tools and techniques.

If you're just using your knowledge to build things for people, you're an engineer. Unless you're exploring the limits of knowledge, coming up with and testing new ideas, you're not a scientist. And publishing has nothing to do with it, it's a mindset.

Knuth is a scientist - by laying out algorithms and describing their merits and deficiencies, he's essentially publishing a box of tools that others can use. Bill Gates is an engineer - he implemented known algorithms and solutions into a unified package (nothing new there).

definition of a scientist (2)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014667)

. Unless you're exploring the limits of knowledge, coming up with and testing new ideas, you're not a scientist.

So the lawyer at Apple who came up with a new way to patent page-turning is a legal scientist? Who knew?

--

--

--
Yeah, I know "Unless A then not B" doesn't mean "if A then B," but we are talking about a guy who is a proven expert at twisting meanings around.

CS ws SE (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014375)

CS is mainly theoretical science, software engineering is one part of CS - how to analyze, design and build software. Usually SE is taught as a part of the CS curriculum, but perhaps some places have a separate program on it.

It's about work experience (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014377)

Having recruited plenty of people here in Finland, I can safely say, that the education means very little in the work life.
It's good to have _a_ degree, as it shows your employer two things:
1) You are able to learn new things.
2) You are abel to finish something that you started.

The curriculum never touches the latest topics in industry, you will learn more _relevant_ things in your first workplace during the first half year than you did over your 5 year education. Maybe some useful theory is in the back of your head, but you really don't make use of it actively, it has just opened the right paths of thought for you to be able to learn new things in the field.

CS vs Engineering 30 years later (5, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014395)

Those guys are 50 something. The difference between Computer Science and Software Engineering does not matter 30 years after you graduated. Whether you kept up with progress and what kind of experiences you acquired during that time is what matters. Old guy did not left because of the school he was in and the new guy was not hired because of the school he was. They left / have been hired because of what they did last 7 years.

Re:CS vs Engineering 30 years later (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014971)

You know, one of these "guys" that you refer to doesn't even have a penis. Do you know why? Well, it's because Julie Larson-Green is a woman.

At that level, it's about experience (1)

Hentes (2461350) | about a year ago | (#42014399)

What you learned in school is irrelevant at that level.

Re:At that level, it's about experience (1)

gtall (79522) | about a year ago | (#42014955)

What you learned in school might be irrelevant. The mental training you received at school and how it influences you to approach problems very much is relevant.

Silly question (2)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#42014413)

Compare what is emphasized in each curriculum. Whoever is contemplating this needs to seriously RTFM. The terms have very long and precise histories. The question may as well be "what is the difference between physics and structural engineering?" and the response would still be "why don't you use an encyclopedia?"

...Or we could get down to the actual question that the submitter was insinuating, which is "It is most likely that Sinofsky and his replacement will have different mentalities about how the Windows department at MS should be run. But will having a software engineer replace a computer scientist yield results that are better or worse for the company's bottom line?"

99% of CS grads are Software Engineers (1)

Zadaz (950521) | about a year ago | (#42014435)

Engineering, as it's practiced in other fields, is applying existing models (often created by scientists) to make something new or modify something old. Bridge building applies a lot of science but doesn't do any science.

Scientists postulate new theorems, perform and evaluate studies, publish papers on those studies.

The vast majority of CS grads go into jobs where they use existing languages, algorithms, APIs and libraries to create something new or modify something old. Thus Engineers, not scientists. How many CS grads have even submitted papers to peer review?

Yes, there are the CS people doing actual science, performing studies, creating the new stuff for all the future SE's to use, but they're the vast minority. If you want to see more than 2 in the same room go to SIGGRAPH.

Re:99% of CS grads are Software Engineers (1)

godrik (1287354) | about a year ago | (#42014519)

In most universities the department is actually called "computer science and engineering".

Re:99% of CS grads are Software Engineers (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014861)

At California State University, Long Beach's College of Engineering, it's the CECS (Computer Engineering & Computer Science) department, and a lot of the earlier courses in both tracks are the same. http://www.csulb.edu/colleges/coe/cecs/

Re:99% of CS grads are Software Engineers (1)

headhot (137860) | about a year ago | (#42014639)

Thats the problem. The market needs Software Engineers that were trained as Software Engineers, not Software Engineers trained as Scientists. The why both approach and solve problems are completely different. I'm not saying CS people can't solve problems, but its the SE that know what problems the solutions create.

Re:99% of CS grads are Software Engineers (1)

Animats (122034) | about a year ago | (#42014969)

Yes, there are the CS people doing actual science, performing studies, creating the new stuff for all the future SE's to use, but they're the vast minority. If you want to see more than 2 in the same room go to SIGGRAPH.

True. More true in the 1990s, when rendering and physical simulation were being figured out. Game development used to need theoreticians. Now it needs people who can wrangle the large number of people and vast amounts of data that go into an A title.

Simple. (1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014441)

Computer Science is about the science of computation.
Software Engineering is about the engineering of software.

Wow, that was simple.

Take it from someone who worked there for almost a (-1)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014447)

Take it from someone who worked there for almost a decade: Larson Green will drive Windows (further) into the ground. Her degrees are from "fluff" schools which you go to after failing to get into at least University of Washington. For all intents and purposes Julie has no engineering experience at all. She's never been an engineer. She's never even worked closely with engineers. Her most recent (and only, as far as I can tell) accomplishment is taking someone else's idea for the Ribbon and passing it off as her own. Now she's being put in charge of an org well over 5000 people strong. She's way out of her dept, both organizationally and knowledge-wise. You can't run an organization (let alone an organization of this size and complexity) if you can't see whether people are BS-ing you. And she can't.

Schooling's what YOU make it though (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014619)

"Her degrees are from "fluff" schools which you go to after failing to get into at least University of Washington." - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

Could be, but... I felt (since I have the B.S. in Business Administration with MIS concentration/minor + AAS CSC gone long by, & into 90/120 credit hours of B.S. CSC currently in the NY State SUNY system here) school is what YOU MAKE IT, per my subject-line above.

I saw folks there "just for the paper" - most 'dropped out' in their 1st-2nd yr. of the major if they weren't "into it" & "living it" (true nerds/geeks - who have it right by the by, doing that. It's how you excel & have the drive to keep @ it + learn more).

No - along with your schooling studies, you should be an "auto-didact" & learn on your OWN also! Makes you, stronger/better!

---

"Take it from someone who worked there for almost a decade: Larson Green will drive Windows (further) into the ground." - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

That's what I am worried about. For instance - I've heard tell she is an "interface expert"? WTF is that?? It's not 'interfaces' in the classic sense, as in programmatic classes &/or units-modules to hook into a library, but rather, GUI fronts... personally?? I don't consider that "heavy duty", & anyone with 1/2 a braincell can do THAT much!

---

"For all intents and purposes Julie has no engineering experience at all. She's never been an engineer. She's never even worked closely with engineers." - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

THAT IS NOT GOOD! To lead men, ESPECIALLY MEN, you had to have "walked a mile in their shoes"... just to earn their RESPECT & TRUST!

I mean - personally, I always had a difficult time taking orders from an "alleged 'superior'", if they truly were NOT my superior & never did the job!

That happened a LOT over my time in the computer sciences... guys who had never done the job "hands-on, in the trenches" running coders, abounded by the truckload & were leading actual programmer-analysts (none of us respected them).

Give me the RIGHT leader, one whom I know KNOWS what he's talking about? I'd follow him into the gates of hell, since I know he'll get me back OUT again... since he HAS BEEN THERE/DONE THAT!

---

"Her most recent (and only, as far as I can tell) accomplishment is taking someone else's idea for the Ribbon and passing it off as her own. " - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

THAT IS WHAT SCARES ME, along with the STUPID FOR A PC DESKTOP "metro" interface...

---

"Now she's being put in charge of an org well over 5000 people strong." - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

That she can probably manage well enough by "delegating authority" & passing it down thru the chain-of-command, IF she hired well for her immediate subordinates...

---

"She's way out of her dept, both organizationally and knowledge-wise. You can't run an organization (let alone an organization of this size and complexity) if you can't see whether people are BS-ing you. And she can't." - by Anonymous Coward on Saturday November 17, @04:04PM (#42014447)

Oh, I absolutely AGREE, 110%, per my statements above!

APK

P.S.=> If you answer back - how was working @ MS? Yes, I am assuming you are being truthful (since you post as ac, many would doubt you, but I will take your words @ face value + accept them as truth for now @ least)...

... apk

Survey of employee names in Green's dept? (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014701)

Now she's being put in charge of an org well over 5000 people strong.

How many of them have the initials "A. C."?

There's no difference at some schools (1)

Niris (1443675) | about a year ago | (#42014453)

Where I'm finishing up my CS degree, there isn't a software engineering program at all, but rather you can take 3 electives in it. A lot of our CS electives are way more practical than our core classes, too. It's a pretty nice mix when you can skip the theoretical nonsense, I just don't know how well that holds up compared to other universities

What theoretical "nonsense?" (3, Insightful)

betterunixthanunix (980855) | about a year ago | (#42014805)

CS theory is not "nonsense" by any stretch of the imagination, even if you are only interested in doing "real world" work. The point of theory for professional programmers is to think about software in unusual ways; this broadens your ability to solve problems. The trend in programming languages over the past few decades has been towards the use of concepts that are common in theoretical CS; if that trend continues (and I suspect it will), theoretical courses will be more relevant as time goes on.

Even C++ now has lambda expressions. Introspection was once a theoretical topic (e.g. Turing machines that can read their own description). Type theoretic concepts (type constructors, dependent types, etc.) are probably going to become more mainstream in the near future.

Software Engineering = the grind (3, Insightful)

russotto (537200) | about a year ago | (#42014459)

Software Engineering, in the sense of the Seattle University program, is the attempt to reduce the production of software to a set of reproducible steps that any monkey (code monkey) could accomplish. You know, you start with your requirements, you proceed to a high-level design using object oriented design techniques, then you make a low level design, and finally, almost as an afterthought, you write code. As anyone who has been on a software project which attempts to follow this particular discipline knows, it doesn't work. It does, however, succeed in its secondary goal of turning an interesting job into a horrible grind.

I suspect working on Windows is already a horrible grind, so it probably won't make much difference.

Re:Software Engineering = the grind (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014759)

Oh, I don't know, I've followed that discipline many times and I enjoy writing up the requirements.

The problem is I or the team I was on have to re-write the requirements when we realize that either 1) the requirements aren't what the customer wanted (communication error), 2) the customer wants something else now (customer error), or 3) I/our estimate of the cost and time to deliver the product was way off because, like almost all programming projects, I/we had literally never done this exact project before and was/were unaware that certain things would take much longer than I/we estimated.

One of the most important black arts in project management is estimating what people and resources you will need and how long you will need them for. A rule of thumb I learned from a mentor ages ago still holds: Make your best estimate, double it, then raise it to the next unit of time: "2 months" becomes "4 years."

Why are managers talking about CS vs SE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014495)

Neither one is their job.

Re:Why are managers talking about CS vs SE? (1)

overshoot (39700) | about a year ago | (#42014663)

Neither one is their job.

Nice try, but wrong. CS is admittedly not about project management etc. (although SE is often either part of the curriculum or an elective) but software engineering, as formally defined, is all about management of software projects to get predictable quality results.

And, yes, I've been involved with both at the formal academic level.

Re:Why are managers talking about CS vs SE? (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42015003)

Well, I've been involved with management at the formal academic level, and for the type of work upper management does, it almost doesn't matter what company they work for. (Almost, because it helps if you don't have to blindly trust your underlings. It doesn't make a difference otherwise.)

Who cares - she's a manager (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014507)

She's at the top of the managerial pyramid, she doesn't need to know much about either.
Her job is to keep tabs on the progress of each of the projects managed by people one level below her, then kick some of them up the arse if their projects are not coming along properly. If the kicks don't work, then assign someone external to the project to find out the real problems and either re-evaluate the scope or replace the manager.
The idea of someone managing hundreds of projects doing any engineering or computer science is mad.

Why technical expertise helps (2)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014785)

If you are a manager with good tech skills, it's easier to detect technical BS and to ask the tough questions that will get you the information you want quickly.

If you don't have the right skills, you need someone you trust who does at your side to fill this role.

Now, at the 5000-person level, you do have a point. If she trusts everyone who reports directly to her not to BS her OR she has someone at her side who can ferret out BS, then she doesn't need a technical background. But if she isn't that lucky, she does.

Leaders don't matter (1)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year ago | (#42014511)

The leader of a program is not important. What matters is the service to the machien. What matters is that the professionals who do the job feel productive and that no lamers stand in their way. Microsoft has ements of an anti-software professional culture. They hate open standards. They rarely talk coding. Developers have a low status. Microsoft fails to inspire their developers. They are not treated with dignity.

Re:Leaders don't matter (1)

kwerle (39371) | about a year ago | (#42014645)

I don't think that the folks at apple would [have] agreed with you.

Re:Leaders don't matter (2)

Seeteufel (1736784) | about a year ago | (#42015019)

Steve Jobs was a professional presenter able to sell visions. He treated his teams very inhumane. His corporate policies were clearly anti-developer. Jobs is dead and Apple a brand.

Nominal differencs vs. actual difference (1)

davidwr (791652) | about a year ago | (#42014513)

The nominal difference is application vs. theory.

An engineer is concerned with making things work in a given situation.

A scientist is concerned with understanding how things work.

The actual difference boils down to the individual person and that individual's background. I can have a degree in software engineering from a heavy-engineering-emphasis school, but if my mind is more concerned with theory than application, at my heart I'm a scientist, not an engineer. Likewise, if I went to a heavy-science school and got a degree in computer science but my heart is on making well-built software, then I'm a software engineer.

There are of course other "kinds" of programmers. If a computer scientist is comparable to someone who studies building design and an engineer is comparable to an architect, a master coder is roughly equivalent to a master builder. The architect may not know the exact best grade of steel to use in a particular situation or the exact best local supplier of that steel, but a master builder will either know or know how to find out. Likewise, a good software engineer may not know the exact best library or function call for a given situation, but a master coder who is working in his area of expertise will.

At the low- and medium-ends of construction, you have less-than-master-level tradesmen. Some of these tradesmen may have small areas of extreme-zen-guru expertise, but their overall experience and expertise isn't nearly that of a master tradesman and they generally lack the high-level understanding of an architect and the theoretical understanding of someone who has made his life's work studying building design.

Likewise, in computer programming circles you have people who are relatively inexperienced and who have relatively little "big picture" or "deep theory" knowledge, but who - if their boss is very lucky - are zen masters in their own small domain. Over time, these people tend to realize "hey, if I want a job and I'm not both good at selling myself and lucky, I'll need a degree" and within a few years they have a 4-year technical degree of some type. Many adopt a mind-set of engineer or computer scientist, but some find that their calling is that of a zen-master programmer who happens to have some engineering or CS training.

Software engineer, computer programmer, or something else? It's time to look beyond the labels.

Re:Nominal differencs vs. actual difference (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#42014539)

For what it's worth, this story is from the "distinct-vs-difference dept." The topic of conversation supposed to be about the impact Larson-Green will have on MS's future, particularly given the differences in education, but alas the submitter is far too incisive to actually prompt any incision.

Re:Nominal differencs vs. actual difference (1)

iamagloworm (816661) | about a year ago | (#42014625)

we are in trouble if we start thinking that slashdot article's departments actually mean something other than the editor doing their best to coin a witticism.

Re:Nominal differencs vs. actual difference (1)

Samantha Wright (1324923) | about a year ago | (#42014633)

Well, it occasionally indicates complicity in miscommunication, such as this case. Or reveals a bias.

This is actually a question? (1)

PragMalice (2036176) | about a year ago | (#42014533)

Both obviously involve software, however, CS formally focuses on the study of capabilities and refinement of digital circuitry and the software written on top of it whereas SE formally focuses on the study of the process of writing software.

A Computer Scientist doesn't need to know about a Software Engineer's design patterns, even if it might improve the quality of the software. Likewise a Software Engineer doesn't really need to know the computational differences between various sort algorithms so long as one of them fits within his functional and technical specs and can be written in a well-documented, easily maintainable, easily testable, and easily replaceable manner. One might say that the best programmers for the workplace are going to be those that study both disciplines, and to be sure most school's definitely take steps to have a significant portion of shared curriculum between the two even if the lion's share is otherwise not directly related. On the whole, I'd lean towards most businesses preferring an SE skillset over a CS skillset.

figureheads (0)

Anonymous Coward | about a year ago | (#42014569)

I don't think academics and/or achievements are priority qualifications for "leaders" of western institutions for a long time now.
Ballmer, Carly Fiorina, Meg Whitman, Marissa Mayer, Steven Sinofsky, Julie Larson-Green, Obama, GW Bush, Bill Clinton...
Nuff said.

I'm not sure (1)

headhot (137860) | about a year ago | (#42014609)

But,
I think the difference should be similar to a physicist and a engineer. When the engineer specializes in practical application of the science, and the physicist researches the science.

A computer scientist researches and develops sorting algorithms. A software engineer knows which one to use when.

Reminds me of the king's toaster (4, Funny)

Jim Hall (2985) | about a year ago | (#42014763)

While not a perfect match to the above, I think the story of the king's toaster [ryerson.ca] is a good example of the difference between an "engineer" and a "scientist". I originally saw this on USENET in the 1990s, so the technology is a little dated:

A great king summoned two of his advisors, and showed them both a shiny metal box with two slots in the top, a control knob and a lever. "What do you think this is?"

One adviser, an engineer, answered first: "It is a toaster," he said.

The king asked, "But how would you design an embedded computer for it?"

The engineer replied, "Using a 4-bit micro-controller, I would write a simple program that reads the darkness knob position to one of 16 shades of darkness, from snow white to coal black. The program would use that darkness level as the index to a 16-element table of initial timer values. Then it would turn on the toaster and start the timer. At the end of the time delay, it would turn off the heat and pop up the toast. Come back next week, and I'll show you a working prototype."

The second adviser, a computer scientist, immediately recognized the danger of such short-sighted thinking. He said, "Toasters don't just turn bread into toast, they are also used to warm frozen waffles. What you see before you is really a breakfast food cooker. As the subjects of your kingdom become more sophisticated, they will demand more capabilities. They will need a breakfast food cooker that can also cook sausage, fry bacon, and make scrambled eggs. A toaster that only makes toast will soon be obsolete."

The adviser suggested a future-oriented embedded computer innovation, with a forward-ready platform: "Specifically, we need an object-oriented language with multiple inheritance. Of course, users don't want the eggs to get cold while the bacon is frying, so concurrent processing is required, too.

"We must not forget the user interface. The lever that lowers the food lacks versatility and the darkness knob is confusing. Users won't want the product unless it has a user-friendly, graphical interface.

"Having made the wise decision of specifying the software first in the design phase, all that remains is to pick an adequate hardware platform for the implementation phase. An Intel 80386 with 8MB of memory, a 30MB hard disk and a VGA monitor should be sufficient. If you select a multitasking, object oriented language that supports multiple inheritance and has a built-in GUI, writing the program will be a snap."

The king had the computer scientist thrown in the moat, and they all lived happily ever after.

The Women Behind Windows (1)

westlake (615356) | about a year ago | (#42014797)

Julie Larson-Green will be promoted to lead all Windows software and hardware engineering. Tami Reller retains her roles as chief financial officer and chief marketing officer and will assume responsibility for the business of Windows.

Isn't the more important story here the rise of two women to senior positions in management and engineering at Microsoft?

The software and semiconductor sectors have the lowest percentages of women among the five highest-paid executives in a company, with 4.4 percent and 2.7 percent

Where Are the Women Executives in Silicon Valley? [nytimes.com]

Julie Larson-Green is no slouch when it comes to logging the years and time at Microsoft. She joined the company 19 years ago as a program manager for Visual C++ and has worked her way up through the ranks.

Larson-Green worked hand-in-hand with Sinofsky on Microsoft Office. Before that she worked on Microsoft SharePoint and Internet Explorer. She actually led one of the most dramatic redesigns at the company when she worked on the so-called ribbon interface in Office.

The Woman Behind Windows [go.com]

''I don't even know how to explain how amazing and exciting that is to every woman who works in tech right now and probably in business across the board,'' said Michele Weisblatt, executive vice president for Women in Technology International.

''It"s not just about (the company) putting them over a division, it's about them leading the flagship product --- the money-making, revenue piece for Microsoft. It's just phenomenal.''

Women hold just a quarter of computing and mathematical jobs in the U.S., according to a 2008 report on women in technology from Catalyst, a nonprofit research organization.

''Microsoft's move is important because of its visibility as a technology and corporate giant, so girls in school who see women like Larson-Green and Reller move into such high-profile roles will carry that with them for a lifetime,''said Jenny Slade, a spokeswoman for the National Center for Women & Information Technology.

Women rising in the ranks at tech companies [nbcnews.com]

engineers and scientists (1)

crutchy (1949900) | about a year ago | (#42014817)

engineers take responsibility for the work they do (and cop the flak when it goes wrong)

scientists just make shit up and if it goes wrong... well its all in the name of science

What Makes a Good Software Engineer? (4, Insightful)

twasserman (878174) | about a year ago | (#42014887)

I have always found that the best software engineers are those people who have a solid background in computer science. That knowledge is valuable throughout one's career and enables one to participate effectively in discussions and reviews of architectures, data models, and more even after being promoted to a position that doesn't include writing code. To me, the two areas are complementary.

Side note: I'm mystified at how someone with a Bachelor's degree in business can earn an MS in Software Engineering. Yes, management skills have an important role in an SE curriculum, but not to the exclusion of the technical skills.

Semantics. (1)

Pugwash69 (1134259) | about a year ago | (#42014959)

It's the same thing, probably. My degree was in Computer Science with Information Engineering. Unless you knew every module I did you'd be none the wiser. My first job title was Junior Programmer. Just words.

Difference (1)

Murdoch5 (1563847) | about a year ago | (#42014985)

A software engineer will complain about the structure of a comment, how you name varibles and functions. A computer science major just programs.
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