Archive for January 2, 2010

Bjarne Stroustrup on what new software developers should learn and what CS is

The January 2010 issue of Communications of the ACM has an interesting piece by Bjarne Stroustrup, What should we teach new software developers? Why?. He suggests that “the first degree qualifying to practice as a computer scientist should be a master’s,” and that “professors who teach students who want to become software professionals will have to make time and their institutions must find ways to reward them for programming.”

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January 2010

I’m pleased that he talks about “software developers” in his title, as opposed to making more global statements about “computer scientists.” He does make the general claim that “The ultimate goal of CS is to help produce better systems.” Is that really the goal? If a scientist writes a 50 line script that enables her to create a visualization or analyze some data in order to gain some new insight, and then throws that script away, isn’t that also a goal of CS? Maybe Stroustrup would also see that 50 line script as a “system,” or maybe he would disagree that there is any “CS” involved in the scientist’s 50 line script. Hamming famously said, “The purpose of computing is insight, not numbers.” I wonder if “systems” are more about “insights,” “numbers,” or something else entirely.

January 2, 2010 at 3:04 pm 4 comments


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