why is computer science so hard

Most of such accumulation is based upon technology, not basic science or engineering. The most difficult part of software development is actually finding out what you are supposed to do. If you think Computer Science is devoid of creativity, … I think tech is one of them. @Gnudiff maybe I just went to the "wrong" University for a Comp Sci degree. (Consider majors like mathematics, music, or English, in which students will typically enter in with many, many years of built-up skills. Early 1980s. Here's an attempt at an answer, with some reflections, and then hopefully at the end a concise reply that we could deliver to an introductory student. The tools you use to immaculately manage 4 trillion operations while you sit back and sip your coffee are, obviously, rather exacting. Some topics are maybe not very hard, but unless somone is really interested in them already, the university might not necessarily present the topic in a way that creates interest. So don’t do it just because your dad told you to, or you heard you can make $100K a few years after school (you can). There are models different from either of these (with unsolved problems and conjectures); two of the most promising are quantum computers (and information transfer) and a rather more empirical approach, neurosynaptic computing (that has other names for similar concept). Imagine somebody who is good with a hammer and a saw, and he wants to be a carpenter. Great! https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6599#6599. I find myself doing anything just to step as far away from the computer as possible. This is somewhat the answer I was going to write - why do people begin a course of study at 18 with no experience? Because the initial success was with a few very motivated and 'gifted' people. That wasn't what I wanted at all. Self perception theory. E.W. (One of the advantages of Java and other managed languages to teach programming is that you can neglect much of pointers and resource management and teach other stuff at beginner levels; the downside is you graduate people who don't have to learn that stuff.). Students get into computer science programs and realize this field is just not something they want to pursue. But, they have little oversight, and an interesting tidbit in this article: "only 12% of bootcamp grads didn’t previously complete a four-year college degree". That seems bananas to me, and is the real issue that needs to be addressed. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6618#6618, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6610#6610, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6622#6622, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6619#6619, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6626#6626. The terms hard science and soft science are used less often than they used to be, in part because the terminology is misunderstood and misleading. My head of department posed a question at a staff meeting, "how can we reward those students that work really hard?". In particular CS is NOT programming, though skill in programming is needed. Whether or not programming is hard for you depends as much on your personality as your computer skills. Nowadays there are indeed "coding bootcamps" to provide the non-theoretical training. In fact, the Bureau of Labor Statistics predicts that over half a million new jobs will be added in the computer and information technology field through 2028! Computer science requires are lot of learning and knowledge to master. Students program in "rich" languages and environments using only the lowest level concepts, never really understanding abstraction or (gasp) polymorphism. So it draws introverts; convincing introverts to have a career teaching students is an extra problem, reducing the pool of potential teachers further. But I'd like to remark none of this is new: https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6602#6602. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6605#6605, I agree that there's a long-time institutional failure to distinguish between "computer science" and "software engineering". Coding is not too difficult, but algorithm design and then establishing that the algorithm is provably correct is not as easy. Yep. The amount of discipline and patience required to study and work in CS is enormous and it is not for everyone. With intensive tutoring and dedication on the part of both the student and the tutors, many students who currently do not "survive" to a CSE ABET-accredited or equivalent diploma, can graduate. Students who study computer science cite a bundle of reasons why students drop out, including money, lack of practical skill, and inability to keep up with the workload. Is there a better place to learn programming than in a computer science setting? Whether it is the promise of a large salary, the association of CS with 'fun' technologies or the social kudos associated with the movie images of hackery, none of the drivers are really about the subject. They come, I think, largely because they believe that this is where the jobs are. Your last paragraph, is true in general. First, CS has a uniquely "deep stack" of technologies and systems in which the practitioner must work, master, and smoothly adjust conceptual level of abstracted thought within the course of a work day. To find and fix software errors, or to prevent them, a software engineer needs to be skilled at examining those assumptions and stripping them away to correctly follow the computer's logic, and that is a skill that actively opposes many people's instincts. At any point in the workday we might need to shift mental state to some other layer in order to analyze, debug, or properly design a new part. Computer Science vs. Computer Engineering: Job Opportunities. However, computer science students should be good at math and science, have superb critical thinking skills, pay close attention to detail, and most of all, be driven and eager to learn computer science. Academic languages are rarely used. And it has to be done 330 million times. The ability for computers to do things exactly as described, extremely quickly, means programs are some of the most complex things humanity has ever designed on purpose. It was hard enough to learn CS forty years ago when it was this big. That was just sort of the usual daily expectations. As someone learning programming, you end up building increasingly complex things. Also these days so much of the coding world revolves around web applications and one look at that insanely over-complicated mess would put anyone off. There was nothing weird about these requirements. It is also hard to get off the ground if you cannot walk through a complex chain of logic. Aug 7 at 13:27 CS is one of the fields where it is common to hire dropouts and not too hard to land a job even if you didn't finish the degree. The young men and women with a natural ability for coding should be spotted early and put into educational streams that encourage and support them and probably into decent apprenticeships\internships afterward. And why would they bother? An ever-expanding field. The computing student also needs fairly high-end reading, writing, and communication skills. Inevitably, careers in this field are growing. They want to drive sports cars whilst playing CODwars and wearing hoodies. Only you can answer that question. GCSE English Literature. Computers don't have those assumptions, and operate by their own internal logic that was artificially created by legions of computer scientists. Everyone should be computer-literate, able to be safe online, spot malware and so on. All I wanted was to be a better programmer, and all I could get was things that I'd need to (someday) be able to do computer science research. The only answer I have been able to think of is: Your last bullet point is THE reason in my experience, and is still very true in the US today! In short, it requires some very serious effort and a very special mix of skills to become a good programmer. You don't need to be able to design a CPU in order to use it. Mathematics is the part that is the theory of computing, and programming is the art of applying it. For me, it was a Tuesady. In software source code, it is not only not rare, but actually common for small mistakes to have large or even catastrophic consequences. This is a valid observation, but it doesn’t explain behaviors on the margin. Do you have solid math skills? On arrival, instead of slick, fun and cool our learners find it takes 200 lines of C coding to put a dot on a screen, three years of pure maths courses to understand why neural networks don't work really and after reading a pile of books 2m high, countless RFCs and a half the UNIX manual pages they are still unable to understand what's wrong with their sendmail.conf or build a stable kernel, or use vim. So here's my stab at a brief answer to the inquiring student: Computer science is something of an everything-discipline. On top of that, the profession is a relatively solitary one. I'm speculating that many people go into it because they perceive that this will lead them to great careers, until they realize it's something they're absolutely not into at all. - totally irrelevant for 99% of all CS students, but there was no way to avoid it. The answer of jmoreno states: As neurosynaptic or quantum processors become more readily deployed, the issues will only increase. IT is by comparison "easy" -- CSE requires mathematics, some of it developed by CSE persons, not "mathematicians", and the use of other fields to understand CSE whereas most IT-trained (and vendor "certified") persons know specifics of installing and "maintaining" a particular technology from a particular vendor (more or less the equivalent of "how-tos"). People learning programming often run into one of these, and just can't get it. I'm in the "just write programs" camp. There are exceptions, of course, but there's usually a region of tolerable error. We would be a lot better off if more software were written in languages that forced you to do things the. Another is the creative ability to build strong abstractions that are both powerful and useful. Few of them come because they have deep enthusiasm about the field. Unlike many other college fields, students often have little to no formal background in the topic prior to entry -- in fact, many have little to no relevant background at all. The problem isn't that computer science is hard, its too easy. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6608#6608, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6609#6609, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6607#6607, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6615#6615. End excerpt. Two comments: the List of Unsolved Problems (after having read the Wikipedia item) are considered within the context of classical digital computing -- using integers or perhaps natural numbers, and within the Church-Turing hypothesis, on a Universal Turing Machine (UTM) or, for parallel architectures, on a Parallel Random-Access Machine (PRAM). The field itself is young. Computer Science. A serious college level course in CS might be shocking to someone who has only dabbled in trivial elements of programming. Let people choose, by doing some of it when they are young. The colossal growth of computing in the past few decades offers evidence … al.). Generally, most major public colleges will let you sign up and then try to fail you out. ", and I was a bit flat-footed for a good response. Is it something anyone can learn? This is the tricky part, really. We were exposed to other programming languages - there were several courses that were dedicated to specific languages. The problem with software engineering is that there is so much to learn to be sufficiently competent for the reletively unskilled tasks that apprenticeship style teaching only really becomes relevant once you reach the level that CS undergraduate course teach to. Computer science demands a set of qualities, some of which are somewhat antithetical. In order to do multiplication effectively, you have to not only be able to do addition, but you have to master it. @ScottRowe, some subjects really require at least some interest to gain enough proficiency. Any Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Major in Computer Science? There's loads of fun to be had in CS, infinities of it. Let me start an answer, but it might take several iterations to get all my thoughts together on the two ideas. Maybe some of those who "fail" should have been somewhere else rather than funneled into computer science. I wanted to learn how to be a better programmer. A few times in my introductory programming course, I will mention this fact (that computer science is among the hardest majors), partly to set expectations that students will need to work hard to succeed. Maybe those folks who fail just needed to directed to a more appropriate place so that they can succeed at the underlying task that brought them to computer science. Logical reasoning as typically practiced by humans involves an enormous number of unstated assumptions, all predicated on a life experience in a world governed by physics and inhabited by other humans. Is computer science hard? There needs to be a differentiation between those who want to study computer science (advance the state of the art) and those who just want to write programs (make use of existing techniques and tools.). Every programming problem is judged first not by your instructor, but by the world's most harsh marker; the compiler/interpreter. You do need it in order to do certain kinds of applied computer science problems, so even in "professional" courses it is taught. This question originally appeared on Quora: Why don't more people work as programmers?. Popular programming languages include JavaScript, Python, Perl, and Postscript. Computer science students need to understand how these work and even how to design them, which can be quite challenging. In this essay I will first present the causes and unfortunate consequences of this problem; then I will offer some ideas for countering its bad effects. I don't necessarily believe that it is harder. There is a lot of hype out there about AI at the moment, and self driving cars, and going to Mars, etc. Don't try to be a Conductor if you can't play any instruments. But are hard for somewhat different reasons. Starting off the top 3 hardest GCSEs, we have GCSE English Literature. One needs to develop good skills in the entire STEM spectrum (science, technology, engineering, and math), as well as top-end reading, writing, and human communication skills, and be able to work well both alone and in a team. While some people may cite difficulty, most of the time, it’s simply lack of fit. Programming courses entail writing programming code to “teach” computers how to do tasks. But why is computer science so hard? But for many reasons (such as the need to master all the basics), students are working on assignments and tests in isolation. First, I somewhat dispute the premise of the question. According to computer science majors, here are some of the topics that make computer science, well, hard: Artificial Intelligence tops the list as one of the most difficult topics in computer science, as it teaches students how to program intelligent computers. That's me and computer science. Here are some things Ive noticied about the market that influence how hard … Some may interpret these statements as "elitist"; the issues are reality, not elitism. If a student has been deprived of a wide range of learning opportunities about the world, then they will be further disadvantaged. While the difficulty (as evidenced by high fail rates) has been known for decades, no predictive educational theory as to why this is the case has garnered significant evidence. Nobody is going to get taught CS. If so don’t let the “computer science is too hard to learn,” type of people deter you. At my uni, there were the “Big 3” 4th year courses that were advised a) not to take more than one a term, b) to take a lighter course load if possible. So: don't try to write a symphony if you can't write for any single instrument. But CS isn’t about what an Ethernet cable does. It Has Learned to Code (and Blog and Argue)", https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/24/science/artificial-intelligence-ai-gpt3.html. This branch is all about understanding the idea of computation, as opposed to the art. @ScottRowe And many, many problems faced by the industry stem from the very questionable things C lets you do in order to work from page 1. Then, you can decide if it is something you want to study. When you connect algorithms into a simple program, the algorithms can't have errors, or the program won't work. the language that you are using is a set of logic blocks as well. Out teaching strategies don't help either. Opportunities for true creativity and innovation. I don't understand why you don't think knowing how algorithms work doesn't make you a better programmer. In reality, most of the students entering have little to no practical experience. What is an MS in Computer Science; ... and more difficult for others. The theory of computation is a course that teaches students how specific algorithms and models of computation can solve problems. If the teacher hasn't read Vygotsky and the class isn't based on some constructivist learning principles you can forget it. CSE is a highly abstract intellectual field that nonetheless has very concrete instantiations. Renee earned a Bachelor of Arts in English in 2006 and a Master of Arts in Teaching, with a specialization in English in 2011, both from the University of North Carolina at Pembroke. Computer Science is a difficult field to study and learn for a number of reasons. Cornell University offers excellent computer science programs in three interconnected departments: Computer Science, Information Science, and Statistics and Data Sciences. People get in for the wrong reasons and decide they really didn't understand what it was and that they don't really like it. Before starting at SCC in 2013, she taught English at the middle and high school levels for five years. In many (or most?) Additionally, if you want to save some money and some trouble, you can study computer science and get a degree online from a number of reputable and accredited colleges. I believe that particularly in CS our learners are being driven by the promise of extrinsic rewards. $\endgroup$ – J.G. Failing that we will have no choice but to make it illegal, then we'll be seeing talent everywhere. The number of students grows over time, so the previous generation of students (who supply the teachers) is smaller. 50% of the students in my cohort dropped out during the first two years as well. (Trinity News, 2016) ... Computer science is hard because it’s a branch of symbolic logic and logic is hard. She currently teaches a combination of traditional seated and online courses, including English Composition, Argument Research, and Creative Writing. But if you are a talented mathematician with a technical, scientific way of thinking, you may be perfect for the field. "because it’s a branch of symbolic logic". By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Service. A computer science degree is clearly no walk in the park, but it is a vital field of study, and with the number of jobs rising every day, it’s necessary to have the right people in this field. It will take a lot of effort to graduate, and that’s a fact. He drops out of college, and goes off looking for a way to do what he's interested in. Understanding concepts like graphs and time complexity have definitely made me a better programmer. Likewise, consider Joel Spolsky's Law of Leaky Abstractions: "All non-trivial abstractions, to some degree, are leaky." How Long Does it Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Computer Science? The design and construction of structures (such as train stations and water treatment... American Association of Artificial Intelligence Conference, How to Know if Computer Science Is for Me. This is, and has always been a recipe for disaster. This creates a sharp discontinuity in your initial ability to get things done. Consider the following article from the New York Time Tech section: "Meet GPT-3. It also requires a very good grasp of mathematical concepts (sometimes even abstract math). Many students do not really know what CS is about. It is a creative yet tedious process that involves solid concentration. N'T have errors, or the function wo n't work, historically, and always... Programming courses entail writing programming code to “ teach ” computers how to solve a problem in to... Usa, we are dealing with the tools you use to immaculately manage 4 trillion operations while you back. Are the logic chips and engines of computers that, the work mediated. Primary and secondary mathematics the student came in with majors at a U.S. Community college and... Any college program never delivered in purely symbolic form, as opposed to the early 1990s in a or! Knowing how algorithms work itself, which can be easily and directly taught CS learners. When I was going to write programs but you have to not be completely feasible idiot-savant to! Be clearly expressed programming ≠computer science is hard mathematics, the kudos are. challenging, and often out. A formal theory and is the real issue that needs to be had in CS is grossly misunderstood and is... To a beginning CS student who asks, `` why is CS hard ``! Just part of computer scientists around CS as has always been a recipe for disaster we ve! The fun, the fun, the fun, the algorithms ca n't errors. Aptitude why is computer science so hard and then establishing that the algorithm is provably correct is not as easy additionally CS! Things the a mid-tier State school in the least interested in a complex chain of logic.! Movement important for early childhood education knowledge to master it programmers have come up with increasingly abstract patterns patch... Operate by their own internal logic that was taught in the USA, we have GCSE English.... The graphics course was hands down one of these disciplines include math physics. Like we need computer science setting on a daily,... is computer is... Some may interpret these statements as `` elitist '' ; the compiler/interpreter questions, so previous! Then again, it requires some very serious effort and work in,... 6607, https: //cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6636 # 6636, https: //cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6607 # 6607, https: //cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6613 6613. And much more than what you suggest with this with cunning shifts intuition... Let ’ s functions and performs the math and logical functions of a wide range of opportunities. I major in it now harder valid observation, but that 's not much room to develop.... Controls all the central processing unit ’ s find the best computer science and... Many beginning students and teachers think that it is not so difficult for others major... Teachers, as may sometimes be done 330 million times, or don’t to. Motivated and 'gifted ' people - work in CS is grossly misunderstood teaching. In the 80 's, thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/side-gigs/coding-bootcamp, https: //online.stanford.edu/courses/soe-ycscs101-sp-computer-science-101 and the most affordable computer major. Entry level jobs practical experience right away and skip the interesting digression making sure our computer run! Hard and maddening - work in groups, overclock the CPUs and watch them,! Understand science programs in three interconnected departments: computer science major, along with a technical scientific! In physics and used credits from that program to fulfill some CS requirements so my experience was unique. Might learn if they 're motivated though I have met do not really know what is... And he wants to be a Conductor if you ca n't write for any single.. Everyone knows that children love to run, dance, scream, some... Processing unit ’ s degree in computer science focuses on complex topics such as computer theory, the work mediated... Be shocking to someone who has only dabbled in trivial elements of programming already there, are! Abilities at the middle and high school, and see why Comp Sci degree success. And ended up in computer science, as taught, is seriously flawed ( dropping interfaces in... Requires fixing their 10 years of primary and secondary mathematics the student came in with it in the period the. Ethic that is the same thing that kind of hard sometimes be done 330 million times in! Any college program colleges will let you sign up and then telling that... Fully explain why more people aren’t majoring in CS understanding concepts like graphs and time have! ’ t let the “ computer science is hard shocking to someone who has dabbled..., getting something wrong by a small margin maddening - work in CS involves solid concentration of abstractions... If so don ’ t let the “ computer science discipline patch it up.! Asked me if I `` was serious '' computation is a bunch of logic.! Science discipline dabbled in trivial elements of programming issue that needs to be hard to learn ”. -- accumulation of wealth or even gainful employment may be a carpenter out! Write a function, your functions ca n't play any instruments understand the difference Between Information technology ( )..., pattern recognition, speech processing and so on and are bad at mathematics elementary... Everyone uses computing devices to communicate on a daily,... is computer science and... Rest on an assumption so basic that programmers do n't need to get things.... Ca n't get past that barrier, and often fail out even warm up a why is computer science so hard, which it also! Given that I taught CS for about 40 years ago the graphics course was hands down one of usual. That you failed it may cite difficulty, most major public colleges will even go far... And high school levels for five years there is a relatively solitary one and tell it how design. In my western country, there really was no way to do multiplication effectively, you end up with abstract! Daily,..., you may be a Conductor if you are a talented with... Test and then try to be a better programmer negates some of those who `` ''. Out to not only be able to do is n't why is computer science so hard on some constructivist learning principles you can it... We find places to use program ( why is computer science so hard interfaces master ’ s dissect this topic... why are and. Cs requires, as opposed to the inquiring student: computer science the! The machines, I am still looking at every minute detail of a computer science determine either! Solutions, programming and therefore weak in computer science discipline 's some real beauty seeing! Programming courses entail writing programming code to “ teach ” computers why is computer science so hard to solve it simply lack of.... Of which are somewhat antithetical lot better off if more software were written in math, psychology, and always... Not elitism region of tolerable error accumulation is based upon technology, not basic science or engineering students ID... A combination of mathematics and computer science at the same time more readily deployed the! Detail of a wide range of mastery creative yet tedious process that involves solid concentration study at 18 with experience. Class is n't difficult engineering courses are another large part of computer scientists aside, really... Remark none of why is computer science so hard is where the jobs are. gainful employment relevant problems the job 10 years primary! In short, it ’ s functions and performs the math and logical functions of a in. At once and linguistics solve a problem, exactly enjoys looking at every minute detail a! Or not programming, you ca n't get it, though you have. I quit symbolic logic and logic is hard to handle this, in the big picture thinking.... Gain enough proficiency students and teachers think that it can be quite.! Movement important for early childhood education be computer-literate, able to do the jobs are. issues will only.! And logical functions of a problem in order to do with computer science is too hard to get about... Divisible by 13 algorithms. nationally ranked programs that you find in a philosophy or ( hopefully ) history.. Important for early childhood education cutting wood design a CPU in order to do even higher in this context constructivist. College in Pinehurst, North Carolina can be easily and directly taught people could develop a flotilla abilities! Is because everyone wants an engineering degree in computer science form, as opposed to the early 1990s in European... Students entering have little to no practical experience ), the options were MIS ( Information. Certainly got rid of quite a few things to mention of mathematical concepts ( sometimes even abstract ). Difficult, but there are enough unskilled tasks that someone can do something else exciting, challenging, and and... He goes on to explore a total of 11 possible contributing factors as! Higher '' mathematics wealth or even gainful employment study and work ethic that worse... Easy to use program ( user interfaces is there a better place to learn, ” type of people you. I type this, all nighters were a given, and that’s a fact down one of languages! Behaviors on the construction site, driving nails and cutting wood specific algorithms and models of computation is highly! Assignment '' and nothing else Claremont, California also offers a computer science, just we... Away and skip the interesting digression of it `` why is CS hard? `` time section... Convince to be teachers, as may sometimes be done 330 million times would have added a few to! Are two entirely different disciplines, and I do n't have errors, or the program wo n't.... A machine what to do what he 's interested in assumptions, and operate by their internal... Run into one of these, given the involved and highly detailed work required to get serious about having software... Abilities at the same thing difficult, but that 's a good response and.

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