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Oct 23, 2013, 11:58 PM
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The more experienced you are, the less qualified you are

Looking over the exams for the MIT algorithms course on the recommended video feed is pretty intimidating. Each problem is as substantial as a research paper. It seems hopeless to ever finish all the problems in the allotted time, but most everyone employed in the software business nowadays had to pass the same course & take the same tests. It's the same test at MIT as the lowliest Cal state university.

They all have to master the asymptotic analysis, all the sorting algorithms, all the proofs. Proofs were always a great challenge. Doing asymptotic analysis in the required time requires memorizing the patterns & formulas, memorizing the differences between T(), O(), theta() & omega(). MIT requires it for all students, but others only require it for CS.

Nowadays, there's a wealth of previous exams & alternative descriptions of the material. 20 years ago, there was no wikipedia, google, or goo tube. We just had the lectures & our textbooks. It was almost cheating to have a previous exam. Professors have probably compensated by making the problems harder.

It helps to remember the same amount of work is involved in most any bachelor's degree & you already did that amount of work. Over time, you get used to learning 3 new concepts every 2 days, a white board covered in mathematical notation, sustaining that intensity for 14 weeks at a time. The number of hours of studying required for any degree are supposed to be equal.

Having studied many different disciplines, there is always a coast phase through material you have previous experience with, followed by a challenging phase. No matter the subject, the program is always designed so a group of students with a standard experience gets a gaussian grade distribution.

The interview process for any job is a lot more rigorous than it was 10 years ago. It's taking 7 interviews where it used to take 2. They're hitting the basic theory a lot more & practical experience a lot less. Asymptotic analysis has become a favorite interview question. Still don't know if it's a practice they copied from Google because it works for Google or if they do more theoretical computer science.

It costs a lot more to hire employees than it did 10 years ago. They have to pay more benefits to everyone to equalize the pot, but it makes the pot a lot smaller.
Last edited by Jack Crossfire; Oct 24, 2013 at 12:07 AM.
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Oct 24, 2013, 06:32 AM
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But I am so very grateful to be 60 years old nowadays.

Once upon a time, thermodynamics was about the most impossibly abstract class I could imagine. The repeated quadratic equation solving, as applied to thermo problems, about sent me around the bend - and it was a short trip even then.

Having spent a lifetime now, in pursuit of an engineering career, I guarantee I cannot hope to foster even a spark of interest in computer science. Narrow minded? Obfuscatory? Absolutely.

However. I do still know how to use a slide rule.

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