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Basic Algorithms

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I'm 19 and I'm not going to school until next fall. I've been a professional programmer for 3.5 years. I've always regarded myself as being born 10 years too late or just a little bit old-school. I understand very well linked lists and data structures as well as complex mathematical concepts. I guess the irony is that even though I would more that love to get a R&D type job, I have only been able to get jobs in writing business applications and e-commerce software. I always loved studying about the complexities of computer software engineering (like linked lists, data structures, etc.), and I almost lost hope in ever finding a place where people actually put such things to use. Thank you for letting me know that I'm not the only guy out there that is aware of or even interested in lower-level things like that.

-Erik L. Elmore

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I'm 24 and finshed with college. My first college that I attended for programming only taught us VB4 and was only ever going to teach VB4. This was a total waste of money because I had bought VB4 earlier and pretty much figured it out. While the math courses did eventually touch on basic stuff like MOD, they were also a waste of time.

So I went to a career college here in canada. I checked them out first before I enrolled of course, and I found that they have a whole section devoted to data structures and one on Assembly. So, I enrolled. I wouldn't say that it was the best school, but at least I learned a few things that came in handy a couple of times.

I already understood most of the stuff they taught, but atleast now I have a piece of paper telling other people that I do.

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Speaking from the point of view of a software engineering professional who has not had any formal training in the programming field. (No college) I have to agree completely that if you want to succeed in this industry. You need a firm understanding of creating and designing data structures and a solid knowlege of how to build algorithims. Every thing I know about software development I have have taught myself and by far the most valuable has been what I have learned about structuring data and algorithims. I have seen many developers with bachelors, and even masters degrees fall short in the jobs because the only things they learned in school was how to write a fancier Hello World.
My gripe with the school systems also extends to OOP. I have worked with may individuals with large impressive framed degress hanging on their walls that are completely clueless when it come to the design of an application and its subsystems. They know all the terms and the high level concepts, but they come out of school having never applied them in a real world environment.
I thnik that the school system should start out by teaching students the high level concepts and theories in the first two years of school. Then spend the next 2,4, or 6 years making the student apply those theories on a day to day basis. If you look at schools like MIT, this is precisely what they do. Students get to work on real world reasearch and development projects, and by the time they are done they have all of the skills they need for the workplace.
These problems are exactly what have kept me from taking the time to get a degree of my own. I can simply do better on my own than I can at any college I could afford.

If I have offended any college grads or students in writing this, I apologize. It has just been my personal experience that all successful software developers are successful because of their extra effort and dedication, and not because of the school they went to.

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This post is aimed at those of us that are in the software industry professionally and have been through our schooling. If you haven't finished school take it how you like though I hope you seen the wisdom in it.

Is it me or has the school system in the US allowed its computer programming coursework to lose its foundation? I can't tell you how many times I have looked at a future employee of mine and thought "Wow what a resume". The person would have all the C++ programming skills I needed or any other language and when I got down to talking to them I was thoroughly unsatisfied with their basic knowledge of algorithms and data structures. I think schools these days have gone so visual in development courses, that a basic understanding of a linked list, binary-tree, graph, and sorting methods are becoming a rare skillset. If your in school and reading this, do yourself a favor, pay a lot of attention in Discrete Structures/Math class and your algorithms/data structures class. These two classes will be THE most valuable classes to you in the future. Discrete Math will teach why trees work and what make matrix algebra happen. Your algorithms class will put that theory to work for you and the data structures class will teach you how to organize data to support those algorithms. Many, many gaming concepts spring from these two classes and everything computers relates to them in some way. Guess this is more of a soapbox than a question. Please feel free to comment as I would like to hear other voices on the matter.

Kressilac

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Derek Licciardi

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