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Are CS students poor programmers?

DavidHumus (725117) writes | more than 6 years ago

Programming 2

DavidHumus writes "Recently, at a computer conference, I heard two separate people say the same thing during the same day: computer science students are usually very poor programmers. Both these people were college professors in areas that do a lot of computing — mathematics and biology (population genetics) — and have dealt with a lot of students who have had to write programs for their courses.

The specific complaint of both professors was that CS students seem to have very superfical knowledge, that they don't understand things like the limitations of floating point arithmetic and verifying their output. One professor recounted the story of a student who wanted a good grade on a program because it ran to completion — never mind that the answers it gave were off by many orders of magnitude.

Do slashdotters agree or disagree with this? If it is true, why? Shouldn't computer science students be good programmers?"

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over generalization (1)

boobavon (857902) | more than 6 years ago | (#21175899)

So two professors at a conference complain about some students they had that were poor programmers, and now every CS student can't program? That is an affront to the rest of the CS students who can program. I know many, my school is among the top for the discipline.

Yes and No (1)

muridae (966931) | more than 6 years ago | (#21179917)

Sounds like those professors had been dealing with too many interns just out to pad their resume. Or their school's CS departments suck. Where I'm studying, there is a mandatory hardware level class sophomore year. I've talked to juniors who have already forgotten the details of floating point math by the next semester. The reason they forget? It is never used again until maybe the senior level classes in bioinformatics or data mining or simulations. Go with Human/Computer interaction, or another area, and you may never deal with floating point numbers more than superficially. Operating systems doesn't touch on it, much. We had to write some fixed point math, but to keep things simple the CPU simulator doesn't do floating point. Data structures doesn't need to focus on floating point math, again the stuff you are learning has little to do with that detail.

It is taught, though. In the same way it's taught that you don't use a PR-Quad tree where a binary tree will do. Is that something that the professors would be blaming the CS department for too, or would they have the brains to admit that they hired a D student?

All points within this post are null and void if the school really doesn't ever teach hardware, or the students hired got a 'CS' degree from ECPI or ITT.

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