Computer Science at University

A place to discuss the science of computers and programs, from algorithms to computability.

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Adam Preston
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Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Sat Mar 19, 2011 10:32 pm UTC

Hey guys, new to Xkcd, but anyways I was thinking about taking Computer Science in a university but was unsure on what qualifications/specifications or anything related to it will be needed. Also what type of fields would I study in it (I'm sure courses vary from uni to uni but in general). And opinion on whether anyone thinks it's worth it? Thanks

kmatzen
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby kmatzen » Sun Mar 20, 2011 7:47 pm UTC

What do you want out of it in the end?

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby _Axle_ » Sun Mar 20, 2011 9:50 pm UTC

kmatzen wrote:What do you want out of it in the end?


On top of what kmatzen asked... What do you want to do as a job? Asking what can I do with a degree isn't the best question. Its more, What degree do I need to do this job?
Yakk wrote:Computer Science is to Programming as Materials Physics is to Structural Engineering.

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Moose Hole » Mon Mar 21, 2011 3:35 pm UTC

Generally to get into a university you need to have graduated high school, and many of them require that you had good grades and/or good standardized test scores, and possibly interesting extracurricular activities. But Computer Science shouldn't be any more difficult to get into than any other field once you're there.

Generally you'll be studying computer programming theory, a bunch of math, and a little physics. Many universities will require that you take other types of courses, like english and humanities, possibly chemistry, but these are not the main focus.

Is it worth it? It was for me. I enjoy sitting in front of a computer all day writing and testing code. But it isn't for everybody.

Adam Preston
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Mon Mar 21, 2011 9:34 pm UTC

Well, I'm getting generally all A*'s, A's and few B's, I am genrally good at Maths and Physics, but I really enjoy computer programming, but the only thing is I really don't know what I want to do in the future, thats why I am asking on whether it would be worth doing the course. A job in computer programming would be quite adequate for me
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Moose Hole » Tue Mar 22, 2011 4:08 pm UTC

It would be difficult, though not impossible, to get a computer programming job without a degree. If you really know what you're doing, you can test out of a lot of classes so that you graduate earlier and cheaper than you would otherwise. If you don't know what you're doing, a university is a great place to learn.

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby OmenPigeon » Wed Mar 23, 2011 3:32 am UTC

Moose Hole wrote:It would be difficult, though not impossible, to get a computer programming job without a degree.

This varies a lot by employer. Where I work we have a number of keyboard jockeys with CS degrees, and ones who majored in physics, geography or some flavors of the arts. There are a lot of good companies where hiring is driven a lot more by what you've done and what you can show you can do than what your really expensive piece of paper says. If you showed up in front of me in an interview with a philosophy degree and serious programming chops, I'd rank that a lot higher than the CS majors who stumble through tree traversals and simple list operations. (Also if you have a philosophy degree it would help if you laughed at my Sartre joke, because it is hilarious.)
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby poohat » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:06 am UTC

OmenPigeon wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:It would be difficult, though not impossible, to get a computer programming job without a degree.

This varies a lot by employer. Where I work we have a number of keyboard jockeys with CS degrees, and ones who majored in physics, geography or some flavors of the arts. There are a lot of good companies where hiring is driven a lot more by what you've done and what you can show you can do than what your really expensive piece of paper says. If you showed up in front of me in an interview with a philosophy degree and serious programming chops, I'd rank that a lot higher than the CS majors who stumble through tree traversals and simple list operations. (Also if you have a philosophy degree it would help if you laughed at my Sartre joke, because it is hilarious.)

I think he meant without _any_ degree, not just a semi/unrelated degree. And while thats certainly possible, youre probably going to be at a pretty big disadvantage unless you have an amazing track record.

To the OP; do whatever you find interesting. I doubt you'd have too much trouble getting a programming job with a maths/physics degree (especially if youre at a decent university) , so I wouldnt base the decision on career prospects.

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Moose Hole » Wed Mar 23, 2011 1:11 pm UTC

poohat wrote:
OmenPigeon wrote:
Moose Hole wrote:It would be difficult, though not impossible, to get a computer programming job without a degree.

This varies a lot by employer. Where I work we have a number of keyboard jockeys with CS degrees, and ones who majored in physics, geography or some flavors of the arts. There are a lot of good companies where hiring is driven a lot more by what you've done and what you can show you can do than what your really expensive piece of paper says. If you showed up in front of me in an interview with a philosophy degree and serious programming chops, I'd rank that a lot higher than the CS majors who stumble through tree traversals and simple list operations. (Also if you have a philosophy degree it would help if you laughed at my Sartre joke, because it is hilarious.)

I think he meant without _any_ degree, not just a semi/unrelated degree. And while thats certainly possible, youre probably going to be at a pretty big disadvantage unless you have an amazing track record.

To the OP; do whatever you find interesting. I doubt you'd have too much trouble getting a programming job with a maths/physics degree (especially if youre at a decent university) , so I wouldnt base the decision on career prospects.
I did mean with out _any_ degree. My brother in law is a programmer with a degree in English. He does have trouble finding jobs because his degree isn't in computer science, but he has a ton of experience, which helps too.

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Wed Mar 23, 2011 6:29 pm UTC

This has been helping me alot guys, another question which would benefit me massively is what university preferably in the uk would be a good choice for a possible CS Degree?
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Moose Hole » Wed Mar 23, 2011 8:31 pm UTC

I looked on Google for a list like that, but then I figured you could probably do the same thing, and you'd know more about those schools than I do because you probably live closer to them. Don't you have guidance counselors in the UK?

Adam Preston
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Wed Mar 23, 2011 9:05 pm UTC

We have a career adiviser yes, or a counselor as you would say, great idea I should really ask them whether they know of any good universities for Computer Science.
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby poohat » Thu Mar 24, 2011 11:00 am UTC

Adam Preston wrote:This has been helping me alot guys, another question which would benefit me massively is what university preferably in the uk would be a good choice for a possible CS Degree?

The 'best' ones for general academics and career prospects are Oxbridge/Imperial/UCL/Warwick, depending on your grades, and if you have a chance of going to one of those then you probably should, regardless of how their CS course is ranked . For computer science specifically I dont know, Southampton is meant to be decent I think (but really I doubt there's much difference between the rest of the Russell Group universities at undergrad level, and I'd personaly choose based on which city you'd like to live in).

In general (since youre interested in math/sciencey things) you probably want a course that focuses on actual computer science, rather than programming. So look for courses that emphasise stuff like algorithms, theory of computation, etc, and try to avoid places that (eg) teach only Java/C# in 1st year since theyre more likely to be focusing on producing industry programmers. I'm not sure what specific universities use in first year though. I know Imperial is Haskell, Oxford apparently is too, Cambridge may be ML, dunno about the rest.

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby HungryHobo » Fri Mar 25, 2011 11:40 am UTC

Computer engineering appears to lead to slightly better money than computer science.
depends what interests you.
If you're interested in software go computer science, hardware go computer engineering.

not having a CS degree isn't a total roadblock but it helps get the interview and get your foot in the door.
Give a man a fish, he owes you one fish. Teach a man to fish, you give up your monopoly on fisheries.

Adam Preston
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Fri Mar 25, 2011 9:26 pm UTC

I wouldn't mind doing either, but I think I would enjoy computer science much more as I would be indefinetly interested in algorithms, cryptography and other fields of study in Computer Science
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

Adam Preston
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Re: brainbox séance at University

Postby Adam Preston » Thu Mar 31, 2011 7:46 pm UTC

some douche has replaced all of the use of the words "Computer Science" with "brainbox seance". This I find very childish and would ask them not to do it again.
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

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Re: brainbox séance at University

Postby Kirby » Thu Mar 31, 2011 9:13 pm UTC

Adam Preston wrote:some douche has replaced all of the use of the words "brainbox séance" with "brainbox seance". This I find very childish and would ask them not to do it again and again.


I get annoyed when people leave out accent marks, too. It changes the meaning completely!

Adam Preston
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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Adam Preston » Mon Apr 04, 2011 3:27 pm UTC

agreed, but frankly i couldn't be bothered to enter it, therefore I will ignore your frustration :D
He who will not economize will have to agonize - Confucius

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Re: Computer Science at University

Postby Duban » Sat Apr 16, 2011 6:59 pm UTC

Adam Preston wrote:Hey guys, new to Xkcd, but anyways I was thinking about taking Computer Science in a university but was unsure on what qualifications/specifications or anything related to it will be needed. Also what type of fields would I study in it (I'm sure courses vary from uni to uni but in general). And opinion on whether anyone thinks it's worth it? Thanks

Computer science is interesting. The problem with it is it takes a certain kind of logic oriented mindset to be good at. Some people have it, some people do not. The fact that you like math and physics is a good sign. CS is an interesting mix of math, science, creative use of programming languages, and pure logic.

Before you make any decisions why don't you try learning about boolean algebra and gate level logic. If you find it fun and enjoyable you'll probably love CS. If you can't stand it turn around and try a different major.
It is not the gods I fear. No, It is those who claim to speak for them that concern me.


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