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Re: (OT?) Usefulness of CS

by Anonymous Monk
on Dec 28, 2001 at 06:37 UTC ( #134796=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to (OT?) Usefulness of CS

I am also, perhaps, in an unusual position in regards to this thread/debate.
I took a CS degree (UK) and also now work as a sysadmin inside a university. I was also a coder in 68000 assembly on the AtariST before I did either ;-)
My CS-based education is _useful_ to me in terms of knowing the theory of why certain practices, algorithms and structures are there, my sysadmin job is _useful_ to me in terms of knowing that the theory is often just not applicable and rarely applied, and my 68000 experience taught me that theory was only a begining to a solution ;-)
The problem I find with many CS grad students is that their supervisors/lecturers have drilled into them the superiority of the theory they have learned, to the extent that the practical wall they run into when they hit the "real world" is a tremendous shock to them and is often treated with contempt and denial.
I've had arguments with CS students on how SMTP works where they could quote RFC's and theory at me beyond my faltering old memory, but they still had no idea of how SMTP actually _worked_. Even when _shown_ email travelling from machine to machine they still denied the evidence. Theory rules.
I've found the same in relation to algorithms, or coding in general. My 68000 background on a 512k machine (or even 6502 on a CBM 64) taught me what effieceny was, in terms of speed, size (or just ease of coding) and the tradeoff between them.
Arguing with someone who has had 3 - 5 years of intellectual superiority thrust at them can be hard when it comes to algorithm/methodology choice ;-)
And I think *that* is the problem - both with CS + literary/art criticism. Knowing the theory is one thing - denying the equality of experience is another.... Sometimes a second-rate plot, with second-rate structure, average acting, humdrum montage and obvious direction can still give you a fantastic, perfect, blissful, classic film ;-)

Casablanca anyone?

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