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Beginning Programming

  1. Jan 27, 2009 #1
    I'm a high school senior planning on majoring in computer engineering. In my spare time I would like to get a head start on programming. What language should I learn that would best prepare me for what I might be exposed to? My guess is C++ or Java, but I'm not sure. I'm also looking for book recommendations and a free compiler. Thank you!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 27, 2009 #2
    You may want to go to several job web sites, where one would normally go to find a job, to get a feel of the market demand and salary ranges for your area you intend to eventually reside. My intention is not to encourage you in choice of programming language or operating system targets or even books. I prefer one language over alll others so you might want to figure out your preferences between all of them. If you know the school you are going to attend, you can also find out what languages they are teaching.
  4. Jan 27, 2009 #3
    Easy: first Scheme, then C.

    Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs
    Abelson, Sussman, and Sussman
    (this one is available for free on its MIT webpage)

    The C Programming Language
    Kernighan and Ritchie

    [​IMG] [​IMG]

    Compilers to get you started:

    Linux/UNIX: gcc (probably already installed)
    Mac OS X: Xcode (contains gcc)
    Windows: Visual C++ Express or Bloodshed Dev C++

    All platforms: DrScheme

    All are free.
    Last edited: Jan 27, 2009
  5. Jan 27, 2009 #4
    Thanks for the replies.

    I'm going to look into Scheme.
  6. Jan 29, 2009 #5
    You're going to want to be familiar with many languages. Whatever can get the job done quick and efficient. Maybe you'll need to make a quick GUI, I'd say go with VB (ugh..) It really depends on the circumstances.
  7. Jan 29, 2009 #6
    I'm really just looking for learning something that will help me understand concepts that I can apply elsewhere.
  8. Jan 29, 2009 #7


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    I've never even heard of Scheme. How well will that prepare the OP for what s/he'll encounter? Are there any real-world applications that use it, or is it a learning tool?

    Something that will definitely help you that is language-independent is to pick up a book on object-oriented programming principles.
    You need to have a good understanding of:
    Understanding these concepts will get you muuuuuuch farther than learning any specific language.
  9. Jan 29, 2009 #8
    You wouldn't happen to have any recommendations on a book would you?

  10. Jan 29, 2009 #9
    Scheme is, to be frank, a pretty strange suggestion for a first language. A few American universities used to use it as an introductory language but it has largely been dropped in favour of Python. Moreover, apart from some limited use as a scripting language for Gimp, I can't think of any examples of where Scheme has seen real-world adoption.

    For what it's worth, my suggestion would be Python.
    Last edited: Jan 29, 2009
  11. Jan 29, 2009 #10
    Tell that to the CS faculty at MIT, who've been teaching intro courses with it for the past 30 years. (6.001 - see the page I linked to earlier)

    Universities and Colleges using SICP
  12. Jan 29, 2009 #11
    It is a very small academic dialect of Lisp. It has minimal syntax, which makes it very easy to learn, without the usual complications of C-like languages.
  13. Jan 30, 2009 #12
    I started with python for my first month, got bored of it and moved to C++ and never looked back lol. Its all about how your introduced to C and C++. If you get an amazing book like I did than youll really enjoy it and everything seems to go well. But if your introduced to it poorly than usually it ends up becoming the devil and scaring you away.
  14. Jan 30, 2009 #13
    Do you remember what book? Thanks.
  15. Jan 30, 2009 #14
    Which was a famously muddled and not-at-all missed course. That scheme course was dropped a number of years ago in favour of a new one based on Python.
  16. Jan 30, 2009 #15
    Here is a Python book:
    The source code for the examples:
    Solutions to some of the exercises:
    These are not orginized, but their names are the same as in PDF file(Ctrl-f), the top three are not from the book, but from:

    Some more solutions:

    The book is used in an introduction to programming for science students in Oslo, Norway
  17. Jan 30, 2009 #16


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    Homework Helper

    Learning scheme as an intro to programming isn't (IMHO) a good idea.
    Yes it's an interesting language with an elegant syntax without all the real world baggage of C++ or Java - but it's like Tolkien inventing elvish to study language, great if you are a grad student in language design but we don't teach kindergarteners anglo-saxon first before English.

    I would say the best languages to learn from are Python/Ruby (see https://www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=284748 for links to books etc)
    I would also recommend reading this book (http://www.amazon.com/Code-Language...bs_sr_1?ie=UTF8&s=books&qid=1233345643&sr=8-1) although it's written in a non-technical manner it's an excellent introduction to what happens inside a computer.
    Last edited: Jan 30, 2009
  18. Jan 30, 2009 #17
    Thank you all so much!
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