Fog Creek Software
Discussion Board




Why programmers so down on formal education?

Hi everyone,

Why do most programmers seem to be so down on getting a BS or MS in computer science or any certifications? 
What is about programmers that makes them think they are above being educated?  Are the curriculum at most colleges really that bad?  It seems to be a badge of honor in the IT industry to not have any formal training.  Can you imagine any other profession taking the same attitude towards education.  Imagine a surgeon with the same attitude towards their education, "I didn't waste my time at medical school, I just need to learn to cut!". 

Steve-O
Monday, April 26, 2004

My brother is an intern at the local butcher. In two years he'll be graduating from cows to people.

RP
Monday, April 26, 2004

Heck, since he's got two year's experience, give him a copy of VB. 

The logic in the IT world is:
*Has no formal training or degrees
*Has experience (doesn't matter in what, just as long as it's experience)

Steve-O
Monday, April 26, 2004

I'd argue IT is down on education because so few members of IT ae formally trained in it. This works because IT changes so fast that a poorly designed education from 10 years ago is almost worthless today.

As someone who has a CS degree, I think it's valuable to me because it forced me to learn enduring theory that underlies what I do everyday. That's not to say that I couldn't have gotten much of that knowledge outside of school, but I do think it was much better structured.

What IT really needs is better continuing education, so that we have less people who "know Java" because they read a book one night, and more people with a firm grasp of things like OO and AO principles.

JasonB
Monday, April 26, 2004

Comparison to a doctor is not really appropriate.

A programmer is more like a musician.  Part science, part art.

My Cousin Vinniwashtharam
Monday, April 26, 2004

> Why do most programmers seem to be so down on getting a BS or MS in computer science or any certifications?

I can't speak for 'most programmers', but I personally have not acquired an MS or BS in computer science, or any 'certification', because:

- It would take 3 or 4 years
- I'd prefer to be working (employment is more lucrative *and* more interesting than academic work)
- The people who are willing to employ me (by definition) don't care about my lack of 'certifications'

> What is about programmers that makes them think they are above being educated?

I think I have been educated: not by college, but by 20 years of 'industry experience', and self-study.

> Are the curriculum at most colleges really that bad?

I wouldn't know.

Christopher Wells
Monday, April 26, 2004

It comes from working with programmers who have a formal education but still can't manage to produce any useful code.

Jorel on Software
Monday, April 26, 2004

I don't think programmers in general see down on formal education. The optimal programmer is a MS with 2 years working experience here.

If you want to create normal Windows apps a BS is just fine, but if you are more facinated by the production of cutting edge programs combined with parts of research you will not come around a MS.

Peter Monsson
Monday, April 26, 2004

I don't value college education a lot.

In IT, you can have a guy who has a Master's degree or a PHD and who is useless on a project, and a guy without college education who reads books and practices IT for 12+ hours a day and is extremely effective as a developer.

I have college education, and yet I don't value college education in IT. Why? Because I have seen the situation above a lot of times.

See also http://info.astrian.net/jargon/terms/l/larval_stage.html

MX - not a native English speaker
Monday, April 26, 2004

In the UK, most employers are more interested in your work experience than your degree. They want to know that you can get the job done, and they judge that by how good a "fit" your recent experience is with what they have in mind for you.

In some cases, such as financial institutions, they may require that you have a degree, but they don't care what subject it is in.

Certainly with all of the recruitment I have done (approx 100 jobs, over 20 years) for UK-based clients, they have known what they want done, so the emphasis is on finding someone who can do that, rather than finding someone with more general-purpose IT background.

I imagine that the exception to that would be if you were actually looking to take on a graduate, with a view to grooming them up the corporate ladder over their career. In this case, it may make sense to hire someone with an IT degree.

Note: I'm not saying it is correct to work in this way, its just how it is. I suspect that part of the problem is the way in which most IT recruitment agancies in the UK match candidates with vacancies, using a glorified grep algorithm.

Steve Jones (UK)
Monday, April 26, 2004

I would postulate that the UK is still big on formal education.

More about where you studied than what you studied though.

This is more so in professions like Investment Banking and Mgmt Consultancy.

Oxbridge anyone?

Tapiwa
Monday, April 26, 2004


"It comes from working with programmers who have a formal education but still can't manage to produce any useful code. "

Which,of course, is very similiar to the hordes of today's programmers who lack a formal education and can't produce any useful code either.

Mark Hoffman
Monday, April 26, 2004

Two reasons (which form a sort of vicious circle):
1) Many universities are now merely product training and certification centers and not true education
2) The IT industry is full of people in that situation; nobody's even aware that there is anything beyond tools that practitioners should know, so why value an education? Note: education in this context does *not* mean B.S./M.S./Ph.D etc. but critical thinking, fundamentals, etc.

My favorite links:
http://www.apa.org/journals/psp/psp7761121.html

and

http://www.dbdebunk.com/page/page/622648.htm

MR
Monday, April 26, 2004

I don't think the problem is formal education.  The problem is people who can't learn on their own at all.  Technology changes rapidly.  I've found that people who can't learn without being sent to a class generally are much less productive in general.

There are also the people who "got into computers" because they heard they could make a lot of money.  These people generally have some kind of formal education and are generally the worst developers out there.

I think best case scenerio would be someone who programs because they are drawn to it and learn a lot on their own AND has at least a BS.

Anonymous
Monday, April 26, 2004

Those that are down on it, don't have it. Or, those that have it and are down on it ... are lying.  ;)

A degree has never "degreed" you as qualified . . . the only thing it has EVER provided is the opportunity to get you in the door and into the manager's office to state your case.

Steve
Monday, April 26, 2004

First, I don't agree that _most_ are down.  I would say the majority of programmers who I have found are down on formal education, do not have one.  (Dilbert's circular reasoning.)

In the US, most of the mid-sized companies and above expect a 4 year degree. The reason is they want more than someone who can code.  They want people who have a wider reach and a greater depth.  People who can work with a client and understand both their business and ours. 

While there are individuals, without formal education who can do these things, they are always a risk, and business hates risks.  They would rather select someone with a similar background.  I would even go so far as to say, if you are getting a 4 year degree, go for a business minor or MBA after.  Long term the prospects are better as you are seen as the "bridge between the geeks and the business."

Sad, but true. 

MSHack
Monday, April 26, 2004

"It seems to be a badge of honor in the IT industry to not have any formal training.  Can you imagine any other profession taking the same attitude towards education."

I've worked with hundreds of people in a variety of firms, and I've never encountered a "down on education" attitude, nor have I _ever_ encountered a programmer holding self-training as a badge. Quite contrary, in fact.

What I think you're really saying, and it's hinted at by the end of your post, is "why isn't it a badge of honor in IT to be educated/certified" (and no, one doesn't necessarily mean the other).  In other words an entitled protest of "I have my MS : Why wasn't I immediately promoted above all of these unwashed community college/self-taught programmers?". You will encounter disdain in these circumstances, and you may misinterpret this as people being down on education, when in fact they're down on you and any sort of feeling of entitlement outside of demonstrated abilities.

Dennis Forbes
Monday, April 26, 2004

"Those that are down on it, don't have it. Or, those that have it and are down on it ... are lying.  ;)"

And those who are up on it have one and are only trying to defend their barrier to entry.


Monday, April 26, 2004

If someone is 18 and wants to go into IT, I would recommend a degree.  I think the days where a young, self-taught programer can get a job without a degree are fading.

For better or worse, it's a maturation process that every professional career field goes through.

This doesn't apply to experienced programmers that don't have a degree, so please don't misinterpret my statement.

Note - I don't have a BSCS degree, but I am working toward a MSCS. So if you want to consider my opinion biased, so be it.

I decided to pursue the MSCS because of the hiring trends I've seen in my area for the last several years.  However, my area is very hi-tech manufacturing heavy, so it is probably different than most areas.  When hiring managers at these companies are looking for developers to work along side their electrical and mechanical engineers (who all have BS degress and many have advanced degrees), then they are more likely to require that the software engineers have degrees as well.

Ultimately, the only opinion that matters is that of the person who's going to give you a job.  Since there is a lot of regional / industry variation on hiring requirements, the best place to look is in your local job ads (newspaper and on-line).

yet another anon
Monday, April 26, 2004

I dont' have a degree. On my third year I went to live on a kibbutz instead. Only when running my import/export business in Brazil did I get a taste for programming through writing macros. I should have been selling more. Well, after  not selling enough and with kids I returned to the U.S. and took up computers as I really liked it. Read, and read and coded and coded and I've got 3 bookshelves with technical books and I've probably written close to a thousand web apps from small to large.

That said, I imagine a BS or MS degree would give someone the fundamentals, the theory from which all of this springs and I think that would be excellent. I also would hope they would teach the need for architectures, nothing specific to any language but a need to organize, plan your app development. 

However, knowledge is not enough. Shakespeare. One must have a passion and then with talent and more of it they will do well. This is one reason why I always say, if you are going to hire a programmer read his code. If he has not written some application in his spare time then where is the passion?  Also, you will see his approach to code design. 

I've personally worked with a only a couple of degreed people and I see no detriment to their study. They enjoy what they do. I personally think I would be more valuable if I had the degree but I just have not wanted to devote the MONEY and time to get it.  I have been spending a lot more time reading about how the machine works, learning assembly, algorithms, etc.

I've never met anyone who was down on education btw, but the programming world is where it works or it doesn't and no amount of hot air will make it float.

must remain anonymous
Monday, April 26, 2004

I'm still in college, and yes, there are a lot of soon-to-be 'formally-trained' chaff that can't program anything.  I'm in a MIS VB course, and our professor mentioned that we will 'either have to read from a file, or from a database, by the end of the semester'.  That's as difficult as it gets, all semester, and most of them are struggling!  Unbelieveable.

So I definitely agree that formal education isn't 100%.  I'm pumped about getting a real job upon graduation (soon), primarily because I'll be learning more about programming by programming for money, rather than via a masters in CS.  Years later, maybe (maybe) I'll return, but for now, the plan goes:

get out of school -> get job -> shake foundations of earth

pds
Monday, April 26, 2004

A degree at least show some kind of completion of a "project" with a grade at the end.  Of course the grade is subjective and the means to that grade may be questionable (the person actually did the work, broke into the computer system and changed grades, slept with professors for the grades).
...but at least it shows initiative.

References of experience from work is even more skewed.  People hardly ever list a bad reference, even if they do people are afraid to give a bad reference due to lawsuits.

Either option or a combination of both most likely yield an experience that has nothing to do with the present job at hand.

...so its 6 of one half dozen of the other....

apw
Monday, April 26, 2004

Most programming is grunt work: managing databases, wrting front ends to databases, ripping apart files, fighting with MFC, and so on.  For this kind of work there's little you'll learn in school that will be of help.  That's the simple truth of the matter.

Junkster
Monday, April 26, 2004

"Culture" is the answer.

The obvious reason (to me, anyway): the IT industry and programming in particular have a strange mix of blue collar working class hero mentality blended with love of intellectual prestige.

Basically, the blue collar part is in evidence by statements that higher education results in no useful difference in output or quality of work. I think this is heavily influenced by the fact that many people in the field worked their way into it without a degree. IE, defensiveness. The low regard that executives and managements have for techies reinforces the "besieged" mindset.

The intellectual vanity part is pretty obvious; we're a field of contributors of no formally mandated standard of achievement, many of whom demand to be respected like college professors "just because".

Put together, it makes programmers look pretty ridiculous to the outside world, unless you work real real real hard to distinguish yourself in other ways.

Bored Bystander
Monday, April 26, 2004

"Basically, the blue collar part is in evidence by statements that higher education results in no useful difference in output or quality of work. I think this is heavily influenced by the fact that many people in the field worked their way into it without a degree. IE, defensiveness."

Your analogy is broken. Here's the problem - Most developers, including the "self-trained", have shelves upon shelves of the latest tomes which they read with enthusiasm to learn from the greatest minds in the industry. These same people are often enthusiastically reading and absorbing every new process and techonology, virtually begging for the challenge of change. This is completely paradoxical with your blue collar comparison. Developers are generally a group of fanatical students, albeit the pace of technology, coupled with the accessibility of tools (you don't need a $40,000,000 proton accelerator to learn how to write software), along with the fact that we all have "access" to some of the best teachers in this industry, has undercut most of the traditional foundations and advantages of a "formal" education.

Indeed the correlation between a lack of a "formal" education (i.e. 4 year CS) and "education" is flawed at the outset - For virtually all of us this is an endless training cycle because of the speed and progress of this industry. Interestingly the ones who don't pursue constant training (even self directed) and the university grads that think they printed their degree meal-ticket, and now they can coast from here on in.

But wait...this means that I'm just an uneducated oaf because I'm forwarding a contrary argument, right?


Monday, April 26, 2004

"Most programming is grunt work: managing databases, wrting front ends to database..."

Speak for yourself -- most programming in my field is algorithm development and embedded command and control systems. Most programmers have degrees in EE, comp sci, math or physics, with many MS's and some PhD's... I don't know how you could get a job here without a degree, except in testing maybe.

Ron
Monday, April 26, 2004

""" This is completely paradoxical with your blue collar comparison. """

Wow, you've never been around a mechanic that loves his job, huh?

experienced outside of the cube as well
Monday, April 26, 2004

Blank,

Your post's subject is a prime example of a cookbook style practitioner and why we have such abominations as XML being wholly abused, OODBMS, poorly designed databases, increased application code (and bugs associated with it), fad-driven IT market, etc.

Simply being enthusiastic is not enough. It can even be detrimental as you get people who are well intentioned but know *just enough* to be dangerous (and cause all sorts of havoc later on).

Experience is great. Experience separates the good from the absolutely fantastic. But you need a base in the fundamentals to become competent – otherwise you’re just building a skyscraper on foundations of a shack.

MR
Monday, April 26, 2004

> But you need a base in the fundamentals to become competent

A base in which fundamentals?

For example, Ron, who said "I don't know how you could get a job here without a degree", began by saying "Most programmers have degrees in EE, comp sci, math or physics, with many MS's and some PhD's".

And, are fundamentals only learned in school?

Christopher Wells
Monday, April 26, 2004

'Your post's subject is a prime example of a cookbook style practitioner "

And your post is a prime example of someone ridiculously jumping to conclusions and building a strawman ("Damn XML using fanatic!"). Nothing in my post was contrary to using good judgement and tempered analysis.

"but you need a base in the fundamentals to become competent – otherwise you’re just building a skyscraper on foundations of a shack."

And how exactly does a CS degree provide this? Seriously this pile of BULLSHIT just astounds me because it appears in virtually any discussion regarding the relevence of some aspects of educational system in the modern world (we still operate as if the house of knowledge had the people, the information, and the material to learn. This is entirely untrue nowadays, and is even counterindicative in some cases). Please tell me what element of a 'formal education' provides this "solid foundation" that a self-trained developer lacks.


Monday, April 26, 2004

College is fantastically beneficial for people that really want to learn, unfortunately most people get degrees to get a job that pays well, not because they care about the subject matter or are driven to learn. 

When the entire purpose of College has moved from getting educated, to getting a peice of paper for a high paying job, is it surprising that 80% of students cheat?


Monday, April 26, 2004


" Please tell me what element of a 'formal education' provides this "solid foundation" that a self-trained developer lacks."

The one thing that my limited CS college experience taught me that I hadn't taught myself was data structures. I took my first CS class after spending at least 5 years making a living as a developer. I thought "Hey, this will be simple. I know all of this stuff."

Then lo and behold, I started reading about binary trees, hashtables, linked lists, etc and I realized "Whoa. I never knew about this stuff." I never had a need for it up until then. Then we covered building search algorithms, optimizing algorithms, etc. All new stuff to me at the time.

Granted, I was still relatively inexperienced, and even without taking some CS class I would have certainly covered that stuff by now. But I bring this up to say that there are some "foundational" stuff that is taught in college that many self-taught developers don't pick up on at first.

I've worked with many developers who lacked a background in data structures and would build poorly performing code because they didn't recognize a place to use a specific data structure.

Of course, I never finished my degree and I'm one of those "uneducated, unwashed developers".

Mark Hoffman
Monday, April 26, 2004

Major problems I've seen with non degreed people doing engineering level creative work, or SW development:

Do not grok concepts of logical layering, encapsulation, and structure. Do not naturally understand that higher level things are built on top of less complex things. This tends to impact people most severely when they attempt OOP design and development.  *

Lack of mental versatility. Tend to adopt the first computer language they learn, for instance, as the holy grail that explains everything and suffices for everything and which contains unifying principles that bind the universe together. (I once worked with an ex-machinist retrained as a VB developer who would get absolutely hostile to the point of rage if you challenged his solopsistic views of things.)  *

Less than professional communication skills (technical writing and written communication as the big area of challenge.)

May not know how to learn. College, esp. engineering and some CS programs, teaches you to learn how to learn - how to learn from books and examples rather than from real time spoon feeding.  College expects you to do this, high school and most 2 year programs do not. *

I don't mean to push anyone's buttons, but those are the consistent shortfalls I see in non-formally educated people. And non formally educated people who lack these skills tend to downplay their practical significance.

-----------

* - Many self taught developers and some prodigies transcend  issues marked with *.

Sphincter Boy
Monday, April 26, 2004

Software development is like fields such as journalism or even sales, in that aptitude and talent are terribly important.

A talented individual will be far more capable than an untalented person, regardless of training. Software development is also a field where the material is available and can be learned by intelligent people working outside formal education systems.

On the other hand, university courses suffer from being out of date and from having lecturers who are out of date. In software, this is more important than in other fields.

To the moron above who says non-degree people can't write, get a grip sunshine. A statement like that is redolent of the narrow minded person who's not had much experience of industry or the world. In my experience, anyone able to teach themselves software development will have above average communications and learning skills.

To be honest, I have near contempt for the typical CS/EE grad when it comes to writing.

me
Monday, April 26, 2004

By the way, I do PhD level R&D and I'm self taught. I did do part of a degree, but left it. All my software development, including CS, is self-taught.

I often found, when reading on CS, that I had already worked out many of the principles being presented, and often better than presented.

me
Monday, April 26, 2004

>'Most developers, including the "self-trained", have shelves upon shelves of the latest tomes which they read with enthusiasm to learn from the greatest minds in the industry. These same people are often enthusiastically reading and absorbing every new process and techonology, virtually begging for the challenge of change.'

I hope you mean "most GOOD developers".  The above is true of GOOD developers whether they went have a degree or not.  But most developers in general just do the bare minimum to keep from getting fired, and they don't read any technical books outside of the workplace. Any technical reading they do is restricted to what is required right there right then for the job.

T. Norman
Monday, April 26, 2004

"I often found, when reading on CS, that I had already worked out many of the principles being presented..."

Which means you wasted your time, because a CS degree would have shown you what's been solved already, so you could have instead worked on something new...

Ron
Monday, April 26, 2004

> Which means you wasted your time, because a CS degree would have shown you what's been solved already, so you could have instead worked on something new...

Not true. It's exciting learning things, and incredibly valuable training, which is perhaps why I was hired to a PhD position. Also, from the classes and junior lecturers I've seen, I suspect I learned it quicker than sitting through several incompetent lectures.

me
Monday, April 26, 2004

You're jumping to the conclusion that "education" == "BS/MS/PHD" (and I never used the phrase "formal education").

As I have said most university "educations" are junk -- they only teach tools and not fundamentals.

For example -- fundamentals in data management would mean understanding issues that relate to:
1) Data redundancies
2) Data inconsistencies
3) Logical vs. Physical data independence
4) What is a data model

And some things specific to the relational model:
1) Normalization
2) Operator and type definitions, etc.

As I also said you are much less likely to stumble upon fundamentals without education (NOTE: NOT NECESSARILY A DEGREE, READ MY PREVIOUS POSTS). For example -- most people here (myself included) would not come up with QuickSort if tasked with sorting a list. We'd probably use some flavor of bubble sort or maybe binary insertion sort. But certainly not quick sort.

Education means that when someone, who is trying to sell you something (XML, Oracle, the-latest-fad-of-the-week, etc.), tells you their product/methodology/format is magic you ask them: prove it. And when they attempt to prove it you understand the fundamentals to be able to accurately evaluate their claims. This can be done by reference to the chain of reasoning that presumably supports the argument, and to the principles behind each step in that reasoning.

Faunting your "credentials", on the internet (where validity is impossible) is not a debate.

Some of these responses are not a shock to me -- American society is anti-intellectual and interested in keeping people as ignorant as possible.

MR
Monday, April 26, 2004

I have a degree in CS, and yet I don't value degrees much. When I hire developers, I usually ignore the degree or the lack of a degree, and ask them questions, put them through employment tests, etc.

I ask both technical and theory questions. I don't require a degree, but I do require that people know what quicksort is, what data normalization is, data structures, and many other things.

When I read a book on a subject I can choose the best book available, written by the best professor or author in the world.

When I go to the university, I usually can't choose the best professor.

So, it is often better to buy the best book, or the best few books available, and to learn from them, than to go to a course on a subject.

Also, when I learn from a book, I learn at my own pace - if I need to hurry, I can read the book 8 hours a day and experiment with the concepts in the book, and finish the material quickly.

So, I consider that learning from books is a lot better than learning from university for 2 reasons:

- I can easily choose the best book in the world about a subject. If I don't like the style of a book, I can easily change it, or read a certain chapter from another book.

- I can read the book at my own pace. If I need to learn quickly, I can spend a lot of time reading the book. If I don't understand something, I can stop and seek additional material.

Manager in Germany
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I'm just about to embark on a formal university education in sweden (I guess it's somewhat similar to a cs major, it's basically called a civil engineer degree in computing tech., 4.5 years) and I'm really, really excited.

I've been programming basically since I was six years old (A little silly text-based game on a C64 with a wee bit help from my dad) and I've learned all sorts of languages through the years (I'm 19 now) but it wasn't until like a few months ago I heard about functional programming. I'm trying to pick up haskell right now and being that I have a major interest in maths it's quite interesting...

What I expect to learn, which I don't think I could've thought myself (atleast not as efficiently), is the math, the cs fundamentals, all the physics, the ability to learn and pick up new stuff.

I'm basically doing this because of a passion for computers and math and I find it odd that some of you seem to loath education. What's wrong with wanting to pick up the fundamentals instead of building a career on buzzwords?

Marcus
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

I am a programmer who obtained a BSc in Software Engineering - i can safely say that there was very little that i did on that course or my course at college beforehand that helped me at all in my actual job. There was a single module in my uni course that was slightly useful - the rest was basically irrelevant.

When i interviewed people for a temp programming job here i wanted to get a graduate to help - i asked for only people who were proficient in VBA - i interviewed a number of candidates and only one was anywhere near to the standard we wanted. The only thing i can see worthwhile with a degree is to help get your foot in the door - unfortunately in my experience you don't get taught anything that will help in real world programming.

Perhaps if they were to change the courses so that people learned by building applications like stock systems etc then it would be better but building the "game of life" of "towers of hanoi"(sp) aren't relevant in the slightest.

Fothy
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Don't knock the Tower of Hanoi. It is a useful lesson in the power of recursion.

Some "professional" programmers have never used recursion or learned anything about it, so they spend days writing these long-winded solutions when a ten-line recursive function would suffice.

T. Norman
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"The only thing i can see worthwhile with a degree is to help get your foot in the door " ...

Fothy, that's the whole point. When you graduate, you start off running (and climbing the salary ladder), while the non-graduate likely spends years doing menial QA or customer-service work while teaching himself and waiting for his "chance" to move into programming. But it's too easy to get caught in a career rut since subsequent jobs are based on previous jobs, so a non-graduate at best has to start at entry level at age 28 or 30 while his age-peers are already senior developers.

Ron
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

When i got my job - it wasn't my qualification - it was that i happened to mention that i had some examples of work i had done (just small sample databases) with me. I left them with the company to take a look at and they called me at 9am the next morning to offer me the job.
I don't believe all companies will be this way - however having something you can actually show them to prove you can do it is 100 times better than having a degree.

As i said - when i interviewed people for a junior/graudate role it was all graduates and although they had all degrees - one single person could program out the lot of them. I gave them a simple test with three questions and only one person was able to get 2/3 right the rest didn't even get 1 (This was even with allowing unlimited access to help files etc).

I think you can teach people to program to a certain level but i believe that its all in the way people brains work as i have known guys from school who were top of the class in every subject and in most aspects of computing but just couldn't write code. I wouldn't hire someone or reject someone on the strength of a degree - if i had a ton of application forms i would perhaps filter out some without degrees. But the person offered the job would be the one that could show me through a programming test that they were best.

Fothy
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

http://channel9.msdn.com/ShowPost.aspx?PostID=4047


Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Education is important. A degree or having knowledge imparted by a person in a class isn't. For most of the heros I know of, circumstances stood in their way of acquiring a formal tuition.

Education != Tuition
Education != Silver Paper

Education = Mental Discipline
Education = Persistence
Education = Self-Motivation

As the saying goes, "Education is for life, not for a living". I don't think those who did not have a formal tuition in CS do in any way undermine its importance. What they probably mean to question is the discriminatory treatment they are subject to on this basis.

Sathyaish Chakravarthy
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

"peak for yourself -- most programming in my field is algorithm development and embedded command and control systems. "

And you're in the minority :)  The vast majority of software development is much less interesting than that.

Junkster
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

Is that because the vast majority of software developers don't have degrees?

Ron
Tuesday, April 27, 2004

>And, are fundamentals only learned in school?

Of course not, but (for example), before google became poular, I never met anyone without a degree who had even heard of the Perron Frobenius theorem. I'm sure there are people out there who pick up books on "fundamentals" and read them just because they're interesting, but I know I don't have the discipline to pick up a text like Horn & Johnson and do all the exercises on my own. From my own limited experience, I'd say that not many people have that sort of discipline.

Since CS departments teach theory over engineering, if I had the option of hiring someone with a few years of experience and great references, or someone with a degree, I'd take the experienced candidate, but, of course, there are people with experience and a degree. (not that I am in a position to hire anyone:)

شسیب
Wednesday, April 28, 2004

*  Recent Topics

*  Fog Creek Home