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Insight Into a Third-Semester Schedule October 27, 2009

Posted by lifealgo in Class Madness.
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Like most CS students who haven’t picked their threads yet, I’m still following the suggested career path that was given to us sometime during FASET (wow, that seems like AGES ago… which makes sense, ’cause as Tech students we’ve been mostly awake since).

Anyway, this is what my schedule looks like after two semesters at Tech:

  • CS1050 – Constructing Proofs
  • CS1332 – Data Structures and Algorithms
  • MATH2605 – Calc III for CS
  • INTA1200 – American Government

Although the grand total of 13 credits seems a bit cowardly to me, this semester is turning out to be what my superiors could professionally call ‘very freaking challenging’ thanks to CS1332.

To be fair, the subject matter and material we cover in the class itself is not what makes the course difficult: binary search trees, AVL trees, hashtables, linked lists, and (our most recent topic) graphs… what makes the course difficult is the simple fact that there is a disconnect between the lectures (theory) and our homework (application).

Such realization was helped by an idea CS professor Mark Guzdial recently discussed in his blog, in which he argues that the way in which introductory CS courses are taught at Tech is incorrect.  I was mildly surprised by the objective self-criticism and the fact that someone within the CoC thinks so.

He mentions how studies have shown that learning from example leads to a better performance from students, which contradicts the theory-based teaching format of beginner CS courses at Tech. While it makes sense that we retain information and gain knowledge more efficiently from watching others solve problems first, it’s nice to see that there is at least some proof behind it.

Of course, if all introductory CS recitations/lectures were used to explain code and write methods students would never be able to come up with their own methods and classes from instructions, which contradicts the very definition of software ‘engineering’.

Although some people are able to translate the ideas into code, some aren’t.  It doesn’t help that homework is worth 1/4 of our final grade.

I’ll continue to battle through this weed-out class nonetheless.

Hello world! October 21, 2009

Posted by lifealgo in Uncategorized.
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I don’t even have to edit the title of this journal to make it relevant for this blog!

For those of you who know the significance behind “Hello, world!”, kudos.  Those who don’t know, that’s what the link is for.

I highly recommend you go surf elsewhere if you don’t live anywhere near the ocean or if you’re not interested in computing, programming, Computer Science as a major, Georgia Tech, or all those things combined.

Save for the ‘living near the ocean’ part. It’s alright if you don’t. Or if you do.