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#1 22/7/14 15:16

Samer
Member
From: Lebanon
Registered: 4/9/09
Website

Computer Science major ?

So some of you may remember I mentioned that I majored in pharmacy in university (5 years) but due to financial issues I can't get my degree anytime soon. So I've been working as a teacher for the past 2 years.
However, I don't want to do that only for the rest of my life .. and computers have always been a passion of mine and I'm drawn to that field more than pharmacy. So in the fall I'm considering going back to university and majoring in Computer Science (3 year program) in a much cheaper university, so I'll afford the degree this time  tongue .. and I want to ask you guys, some of you have done computer studies, I think .. do you recommend it ?  How difficult is the material ? And what kind of job oppurtinities can you get with that degree ?
I have some knowledge about operating systems, (registry editing, file types and such things) and know how to use formulas and conditions in excel for example but not so much about networking ... and about codding only what I've picked up here on bsl and xml .. so would that make things any easier for me ? Is java and c++ any similar ? What should I expect.

Last edited by Samer (22/7/14 15:23)


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#2 22/7/14 15:45

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

Well, I don't have a degree in CS, so I'm not equipped to talk about what the degree will do for you.  But I can tell you that XML is not programming, and BSL barely so smile  But with effort, anyone can learn CS.  I'm a little concerned that you have no existing programming experience, as many of your classmates will have been programming since middle or high school.

But if it's not too much of a commitment to start the classes and see how you take to them, I'd say it's the only way to find out if it's right for you.  It's not a question of whether you can do it, but how much you enjoy making programs, which you won't know until you've gotten some running.  Personally, I found it addictive and didn't think about anything but programming for the rest of high school after I took some C++ classes.

However, I chose not to seek a degree or career in it because many of the jobs in programming are not exactly working on exciting applications.  Gaming is probably the only field that is inherently interesting pretty much all of the time, but the act of programming anything always has parts that will make you want to smash your head against the wall.  I think the most important requirement for a programmer is focus, or perseverance.

And I don't program in Java, but I'd say that Java and C++ are similar as far as languages go.  They are both object-oriented and Java's syntax was modeled after C/++.


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#3 22/7/14 16:11

DC
Member
From: St. James, Jamaica
Registered: 14/7/14

Re: Computer Science major ?

The oni bsl coding is a tiny bit similar to that of c++, so I was able to mess with the bsl files with worrying about a thing . I'm not that good at c++ but Ive been trying to learn it before my PC went to its hospital. There are a lot of opportunities in anything that is related to computers, I am not sure about that in your country. JavaScript is kinda like C++ but easier and it's for web development. But if you were able to pull off some of those bsl codings then I think learning any other coding wouldn't be that hard. It just takes practice

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#4 22/7/14 16:38

TOCS
Member
From: Denmark
Registered: 4/4/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

I know from secondhand-experience that working outside of the gaming industry can be pretty tiresome work if all you do is programming. Like with any other job, you won't like every project that you're set to do. My dad is sometimes away for a few days to work on e.g. automatics for a silo in a company like Arla. He says it can be really frustrating when you can't figure out what's wrong. Most of the things you'll learn are pretty up-to-date, including the software you'll get familiar with overtime. Much of this is just waste because a lot of corporations use old as hell hardware and software. It's not uncommon to see huge parts of the food industry still running DOS, Windows 3.11, or something along those lines. So you'll probably get around a lot of things if you plan on working in industry outside of gaming.

But I suppose the possibility of getting lucky with an easy application on App Store or Google Play is always there. wink I know a guy who's working on a game all by himself that he plan on getting on Desura (and eventually Steam), which I've been tasked to compose the music for. If I ever had to work in the software/gaming industry, that would be what I'd do most definitely. smile And I think that's what it's about -- figuring out what part of the spectrum you want to tinker with. smile

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#5 22/7/14 17:58

Alloc
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From: Germany -> Darmstadt
Registered: 14/1/07
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

As a sidenote especially to what's been said so far: Computer Science normally is not about programming. Programming is part of it obviously but there's a lot more to it than that wink
But in the end it differs from college to college and can even change from one professors holding a lecture one year to another prof in the next year.

I'd go for what Irit said: If it's possible for you to just take one or two terms without financial or any other problems do it to find out if it suits you.


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#6 22/7/14 18:59

Samer
Member
From: Lebanon
Registered: 4/9/09
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

Thanks for all the feedback and advice guys smile I think I can manage to have the commitment to learn CS because I find it interesting ... studying pharmacy was exhausting at times (we had to memorize for example the chemical structure, mechanism of action, side effects, contra indications, trade names. etc ... for hundreds of drugs) and I managed to do that eventhough I wasn't very passionate about it, so I think\hope I'll be able to do that with CS too because i find it more interesting and I am more passionate about it (commitment wise)  ... what worries me if I still have the energy to do so after these 2 years that I haven't been in university and if I'll actually put it to use after learning it.

I'm a little concerned that you have no existing programming experience, as many of your classmates will have been programming since middle or high school.

actually no they won't, the education system here is a bit different .. all the nation takes same subjects in middle and high school (Biology, Chemistry,Physics, Math, English or French, Arabic, History, Geography, Civil studies, but the percentage of the grade varies on each subject depending whether the student chose the scientific or literature branch) and unfortunately Computer is not a taught subject in many of the schools here and when it's taught it's very basic (this is called hardware, this is called software, introduction to word and powerpoint) ... all I know about computers I learnt from the internet and by trial and error and from you guys big_smile, so I'll actually have an advantage there, because many of the students will be getting introduced to computers the first time that first year. (I hope they won't do the whole this is hardware, this is software stuff the first year because I don't have the patience to hear that again)

But if it's not too much of a commitment to start the classes and see how you take to them

I wish that was an option here sad unfortunately here there's a registration deadline, you can't then quit because they reserve you a place.

hopefully I'll get lucky and find a job with it later .. we don't have game making companies here (though that would be amazing), but there are those who make software for banks or schools or companies ...

thanks smile


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#7 22/7/14 19:50

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

Well, you definitely won't have to do the kind of memorization that you did for pharmacy, that's for sure.

Just to be clear on my experience comment, I don't know how many U.S. schools teach programming either.  My high school's programming classes were in their pilot years when I took them, and this was a very upscale high school (it was also the '90s).  I meant that the kinds of kids who are naturally drawn to programming were already doing it on their own at home.  For instance, I was making simple programs in HyperTalk and BASIC starting in middle school, and I was nowhere near the most advanced student in 10th grade when I took my first programming class.

My concern is not that you'll be at such a disadvantage that you can't overcome it in the first semester or so, but that you don't yet know what it means to really write a program.  If the school is going to require you to stay in (how do they even do that?; is there a fee for dropping out, or is it that you have to pay tuition way in advance?), then I would really suggest that, in order to have a sense of what you're getting into, you should buy a book and start learning the introductory material yourself.  Do the exercises and then design your own original program.  If you feel a certain "high" when you get your programs working, then you are probably cut out for programming smile  This will also catch you up a bit to the median level of experience that I think students will have in your introductory classes.

To acknowledge what Alloc said, computer science is more than programming, but I'm just not qualified to talk about general CS, which is why I keep coming back to programming.  I do know there's other interesting aspects of CS that people specialize in, such as human accessibility and security research.


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#8 22/7/14 20:40

Samer
Member
From: Lebanon
Registered: 4/9/09
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

I meant that the kinds of kids who are naturally drawn to programming were already doing it on their own at home.

I wish that was true, but knowing from my peers back in school and from the students I've taught the past two years and other teachers, that is very rare to find ... our education program exhausts the students with the 9 subjects I listed above (+ Philosophy or Economics depending on their choice) that they don't really have any time to learn things on their own and I'm ashamed to say most of them don't have that "think ahead, do it myself mentality" ... they're more of the ok "let's just pass this one exam and who knows what we'll do later" type, (besides facebook and chatting of course) ... most of them have no idea what they plan to do after they finish highschool ... the system is partially to blame because they don't expose the students to new areas of studies .. technology is still so undermined here. (but almost everybody has an iphone and a playstation though tongue) and things happen so fast ... they finish highschool and immediately (over the summer) have to decide what major to choose if they are going to go to university ... I could be mistaken though and just haven't come across similar kids yet.

even in university when I took an elective class in computers hoping I'd learn anything new it was still the same" word powerpoint intro stuff :\" there wasn't a more advanced class available except for computer majors.

or is it that you have to pay tuition way in advance

for this university which is owned by the government (public university and hence a bit cheaper) you have to pay in advance and reserve a place, I could drop out later but they won't give me the money back. (other private universities are more lenient but also much more expensive)

you should buy a book and start learning the introductory material yourself.

that's a good idea smile can you recommend a book ? or even maybe a website that will be suitable for my level ? because I don't know what to look for.

To acknowledge what Alloc said, computer science is more than programming

I've read on wikipedia that it includes so many branches, (virtual intelligence, graphic design, algorithms and encryption) I don't know if they will cover these in 3 years or if they just give basic stuff and focus on programming more. I've been trying to obtain a syllabus or something :\ but the university is closed till the registration is September, because they are not getting paid by the government tongue (I just love it here tongue)

also one more question .. do I need to review my mathematics tongue ? for example do derivatives and antideratives come into play in any course tongue ? because I've forgotten these (didn't use them in pharmacy nor teaching) and I read CS kinda relies on mathematics in some aspects.

edit : and I just realized I'm gonna be the oldest guy in the class  :\ 25 vs 18 .. that's not a huge difference right tongue ?

Last edited by Samer (22/7/14 21:00)


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#9 22/7/14 21:15

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

My recommendations for books are here: http://oni.bungie.org/community/forum/v … 554#p19554.  As I noted there, I think it's best to learn procedural programming (like C) before object-oriented programming (like C++) because OOP languages build on top of procedural programming principles.  Maybe some here have experience in learning OOP first, but it seems like a bad idea to me to mix the two paradigms while learning, and you can't learn OOP without also learning procedural principles at the same time.  Then again, when I studied the C++ Primer Plus (already knowing C from school), it started with basic C stuff, so maybe it doesn't do too much harm to start with a C++ book.

Re: mathematics, you'll probably be surprised how little higher math matters in programming.  I've never used anything beyond basic algebra, myself.  The challenge of programming is on a much different plane, more to do with following logic pathways mentally, and designing systems.

Re: age, I was in college as a teen alongside a few adults in their 30s and 40s who were extending their education or starting a new career (the average age especially went up during my night classes).  I doubt you'll be too out of place unless you're planning to live in the dormitory, and it didn't sound like you were.

Edit: I said previously that I took C++ classes in school, so why do I say here that I knew C, and studied C++ from a book?  It's because my C++ class in school hardly covered any C++; it was mostly C.  Our teacher was a bit overwhelmed and the class was in its first year....


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#10 23/7/14 9:57

TOCS
Member
From: Denmark
Registered: 4/4/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

harshchaudhary wrote:

BSL won't be taught as much as Java or C99, leave alone C++.

You'd be damn lucky to find anyone outside of this forum that even remotely knows what BSL is. wink

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#11 23/7/14 14:21

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

Harsh, I'm not sure what you think BSL is, but it stands for BungieFrameWork Scripting Language.  It's only used in games that run on Oni's engine, that is: Oni.


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#12 23/7/14 14:33

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

hmm  Okay.  Well, Oni is scripted in BSL.  Its engine is written in C.  I presume that's what you meant.


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#13 23/7/14 15:56

s10k
Member
From: Portugal
Registered: 14/1/07
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

Samer wrote:

Is java and c++ any similar ?

They are similar but mainly in the syntax. C++ allows you do fantastic things in low level which you can't or is really hard in java. That has some costs e.g. it is harder to learn and it is easier to mess up (e.g. memory leaks, segmentation faults).

My personal opinion is that people should start with c / basic assembly, then some functional programming like haskell then Java / C#. After learn those the others will be easier to pick.

and I want to ask you guys, some of you have done computer studies, I think .. do you recommend it ?

Yes I recommend it but only if it is one thing that excites you. People often quit in the first year when they realize that wasn't what they were expecting (some think they will play and develop games a lot of time and get disappointed, others just entered because they liked computers and can't keep with the difficulty). Does programming excites you (because that will be what you will be doing 85% of the time)?

How difficult is the material ?

It is difficult especially the first years when you are learning the basic of programming and the maths. You have to be a persistent person, like logical problems and be quite good at reasoning.


And what kind of job oppurtinities can you get with that degree ?

Lots of them. At least in my country and europe. In my country (Portugal) the offer are mainly for C#/Java web developer and some mobile programming. There are also some C++ programming for embedded systems but it is harder to enter here.

Other opportunities include system administrator, networks administrator, school teaching, researcher, operating systems and a lots more (you can search you will find a big list).

It is also very time consuming job, at least in my country. People rarely just do the 8 hours per day, when the deadlines rise it can even take a part of the night.

I have some knowledge about operating systems, (registry editing, file types and such things) and know how to use formulas and conditions in excel for example but not so much about networking ... and about codding only what I've picked up here on bsl and xml .. so would that make things any easier for me ?

Every one of these help. Personally BSL helped me in the first year since I had already some basis of scripting. It should help you too.

I recommend you to take some python classes online and do some exercises. Of course you will not be a pro or have definitive answer if you will like CS but it should help you. Python is a pretty straightforward language, simple and requires you to program with some important concepts like code indenting.

Last edited by s10k (23/7/14 16:04)

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#14 23/7/14 16:28

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

I like your suggestion of learning Python, s10k, I didn't think about suggesting a simpler language than C.  C has some famously difficult aspects to it (pointers and general memory management, symbol overloading, etc.) that are hard on newbies (and since C++ is built on top of C, you have to deal with these things in C++ too).  Programmers always have to learn new languages anyway, so it doesn't really matter what language you start with, you'll have to learn a few others as well.

Once you learn the basic principles of programming, they apply to almost any language, so picking up new ones is easy.  Well, aside from the fact that there are three families of languages, procedural, object-oriented, and functional.  Personally I cannot recommend spending any time learning Haskell, as it has almost no actual usage in the world of programming.  I think it's a neat concept, but Haskell's simply not being used anywhere today.

And what kind of job oppurtinities can you get with that degree ?

Lots of them. At least in my country and europe.

That reminds me. Samer, you've mentioned that you're not totally enamored with Lebanon.  Perhaps a degree like CS would be a ticket to emigration and finding a nice job somewhere else?  Just throwing that out there, don't know if you've given that any thought.


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#15 24/7/14 8:08

Samer
Member
From: Lebanon
Registered: 4/9/09
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

so to summarize I better learn about C than C++ first because the latter builds on the former.
I'll try to find any of these that Iritscen suggested on the other thread: "C Programming Language" by Kernighan & Ritchie, "Programming in C" by Stephen Kochan, and the "C Primer Plus" by Stephen Prata
if I find them too complicated I'll try Python or if I can't find these books here I'll go with Python since it sounds easier.
thanks smile
@ harsh thanks for the suggestions too smile but they sound to be more about security than programming and I'd like to have a better idea bout programming first.

s10k wrote:

Does programming excites you (because that will be what you will be doing 85% of the time)?

I'm not sure to be honest, Computers themselves excite me, learning how they work and how to fix them excites me, when I messed up with bsl in Oni and started understanding it, that was exciting, learning how software works excites me ... for example how Alloc made the AEinstaller or you the VagoGui .. that is appealing to me and I wish I knew how to do that.

You have to be a persistent person, like logical problems and be quite good at reasoning.

I think I can do that ... eventhough in pharmacy there was a lot of memorization .. the parts I enjoyed the most where the logical and reasoning parts, I enjoyed learning the drug mechanism for example, more than memorizing its trade names, even when the professor omitted the mechanisms to make "memorizing easier" I couldn't remember the drugs except if I researched and understood the mechanism on my own and then I could deduce the side effects for example rather than just memorize them  .. so yeah I like deducing stuff.

Iritscen wrote:

Samer, you've mentioned that you're not totally enamored with Lebanon.  Perhaps a degree like CS would be a ticket to emigration and finding a nice job somewhere else?

yes, that's the nice way to put "I HATE IT HERE" tongue hopefully it will be ...  that's why I'm going back to university because eventhough I studied pharmacy for 5 years and succeeded, technically I don't have a degree to use :\ .. not sure how easy it will be to emigrate though, and how my family (parents) will deal with that (family bonds here are very tight) ... but at least it will be an option if I get a CS degree.

Last edited by Samer (24/7/14 8:14)


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#16 24/7/14 14:15

s10k
Member
From: Portugal
Registered: 14/1/07
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

Samer wrote:

so to summarize I better learn about C than C++ first because the latter builds on the former.

Definitively. C++ is overkill to start with. With C you can learn the basis and since it a low level language understand important concepts like memory management, which are in fact important even in high level languages like C#.

However you will probably learn C in the university so I would recommend you python for some training before you enter in the university. In fact the better university here in Portugal for CS have recently began teaching students the basics of programming using python and only then jumping for the other important languages like C.

s10k wrote:

Does programming excites you (because that will be what you will be doing 85% of the time)?

when I messed up with bsl in Oni and started understanding it, that was exciting, learning how software works excites me ... for example how Alloc made the AEinstaller or you the VagoGui .. that is appealing to me and I wish I knew how to do that.

That's very very good. I also was like you before I entered in the university.

I think I can do that ... eventhough in pharmacy there was a lot of memorization .. the parts I enjoyed the most where the logical and reasoning parts, I enjoyed learning the drug mechanism for example, more than memorizing its trade names, even when the professor omitted the mechanisms to make "memorizing easier" I couldn't remember the drugs except if I researched and understood the mechanism on my own and then I could deduce the side effects for example rather than just memorize them  .. so yeah I like deducing stuff.

In CS the reasoning is fundamental and is much more important than memorizing the things. For instance you can memorize an algorithm but if the problem changes a bit you are screwed because you can't apply what you memorized. You can however learn the logic and with that you can apply it to different problems which are similar but not the same.

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#17 29/7/14 13:54

Samer
Member
From: Lebanon
Registered: 4/9/09
Website

Re: Computer Science major ?

Iritscen did you receive my email(s) ? No need to reply soon or anything, but I sent them from my phone so I just want to know if they went through because the internet on it has a tendency to mess up when submitting stuff.

by the way haven't found the books here yet, I'll try to find them as a digital copy or something when my internet is stable enough.

Last edited by Samer (29/7/14 13:56)


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#18 29/7/14 16:19

Iritscen
Moderator
From: NC, USA
Registered: 22/10/07

Re: Computer Science major ?

Yep, I did get two emails from you, will reply soon.


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