[Beowulf] Re: A start in Parallel Programming?

David Simas dsimas at imageworks.com
Wed Mar 14 11:55:37 PDT 2007

On Wed, Mar 14, 2007 at 11:29:51AM -0700, David Mathog wrote:
> Conversely, the CS departments like to teach with idealized didactic
> computing languages.  What that language is changes from era to
> era, but they are in any case notable for rarely being used to
> accomplish anything significant outside of academia.  While these
> languages may be ideal for conveying key CS concepts to the
> students, they in no way represent the sorts of code the
> students will be encountering in the real world.   That code, like
> the mechanic's practice cars, are imperfect, and most of what
> they will be doing when they encounter such code is dealing
> precisely with the problems associated with those imperfections.

You may need computer programming to do Computer Science, like
you need English/French/Chinese/Farsi/whatever to do History.
But History isn't English, et al, and Computer Science isn't
computer programming.  What programming language you use for
Computer Science is quite arbitrary.  Or, maybe, a matter of
taste - de gustibus non est disputandum.

David S.

> I'm kind of glad the folks who teach CS this way don't teach foreign
> language too - they'd make the students learn a fair amount of Latin
> before letting them enroll in a Spanish class!  Sure Spanish is based
> on Latin, but "Ubi latrina est?" isn't the fastest way to find a 
> bathroom in Madrid.  Well, maybe if you ask in a church.
> Let's see, what language is CS is using here these days? It has
> been a while since I looked: 
> CS 1 (Introduction to Computation, first quarter) uses Scheme.
> CS 2 (Introduction to Programming Methods, 2nd quarter) seems
>   to be mostly Java.
> CS 3 (Introduction to Software Engineering, 3rd quarter) uses who
>   knows what, since the course info is locked up in a "moodle"
>   I do not have access to.
> CS 11 (Computer Language Shop, any quarter for up to 3
>  quarters total) is for programming practice in any of
>  several languages, including C, C++, Java, Python, and others
>  but not (any type of) Fortran.
> So the undergrad here who just wants to learn to program in order
> to get some work done in engineering, physics, etc. would either
> slog through a quarter of CS 1 and then enroll in CS 11
> for a few quarters, or would maybe try to talk their way into CS 11
> without having to take CS 1.  CS 1 is "strongly recommended" for
> those taking CS 11, which is catalog speak for, "it is possible
> to weasel out of the prerequisite". 
> Regards,
> David Mathog
> mathog at caltech.edu
> Manager, Sequence Analysis Facility, Biology Division, Caltech
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