Who honestly hasn't seen this stuff before?

  • Thread starter vcxp
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I just ran across this: http://www.joelonsoftware.com/articles/TestYourself.html" [Broken].

Apparently everyone and their grandmother has already seen it. According to Joel (who I usually ignore, because I abhor the 'I once wrote this little thingy and worked on this other big project with 1,000 other people so now all my opinions on software development are scared' cult that the software world is saturated with), this is stuff most programmers aren't learning in CS programs. That seems a bit ridiculous, and from a neutral standpoint I'd like to see how many people learned how to do this during the course of their CS degree (I was able to solve all three problems very quickly, but I cheated by teaching myself Scheme and C in highschool, so I don't count).

For what it's worth, most of the schools I've dealt with teach C++, not Java, which is part of why I'm asking (because you'd think with C++, it'd be hard not to come away understanding a little about pointers).
 
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It's been 12 years since I've written a line of Scheme, and probably about 5 years since I've written any C, but I got the answers no problem.

Honestly, I remember pointers reportedly being the hardest part of our "intro to programming" course. Every major at our school seemed to have a "separate the men from the boys" class or topic, and for CS, that topic was pointers. If you understood pointers, you were gonna be alright. If you didn't, CS was probably NOT the major for you. Anyway, that was what our professors told us-- and it seemed mostly true. Non-CS majors that took intro-level programming courses frequently had problems with pointers.

I don't remember having too many issues with pointers. And in the real world, I've seen similar things in Perl (non-Perl folks have problems with understanding references in Perl).

Recursion was another mind-blower for non-programmers. I often had to sit and think about it for a while before figuring out how to write recursive algorithms, up until I took an AI class with Scheme, which beat me senseless with recursion. Now it's relatively simple for me.

So, did we learn how to do these in college? Sure. I probably could've gotten all three after my 2nd freshman term, although I might have screwed up the 1st one. But after a BS in Computer Science, and 12 years programming, I don't have much of a problem with it now.

However, I'm also a reader of http://thedailywtf.com/" [Broken], which is often good for a laugh. If nothing else, it teaches me how easy it is for people with NO formal training to write programs in the real world. People frequently get exposed to programming snippits, and move on to thinking they can be great self-taught programmers. It's these people you have to watch out for, because they're more common than you might think, and they CAN write functional code. But they've never really been taught the "right way" to code. My guess is that those are the people they're talking about.

DaveE
 
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