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CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

March 12th, 2011 03:13 admin Leave a comment Go to comments


theodp writes “Worried that his love-hate relationship with math might force him to give up the pursuit of computer science, CS student Dean Chen finds comfort from an unlikely source — the postings of CS professors on the SIGSE mailing list. ‘I understand that discussing the role of math in CS is one of those religious war type issues,’ writes Brad Vander Zanden. ‘After 30 years in the field, I still fail to see how calculus and continuous math correlate with one’s ability to succeed in many areas of computer science…I have seen many outstanding programmers who struggled with calculus and never really got it.’ Dennis Frailey makes a distinction between CS research and applied CS: ‘For too long, we have taught computer science as an academic discipline (as though all of our students will go on to get PhDs and then become CS faculty members) even though for most of us, our students are overwhelmingly seeking careers in which they apply computer science.’ Frailey adds that part of the problem may be that some CS Profs — math gods that they may be — are ill-equipped to teach CS in a non-mathematical manner: ‘Let’s be honest about another aspect of the problem — what can the faculty teach? For a variety of reasons, a typical CS faculty consists mainly of individuals who specialize in CS as a discipline, often with strong mathematical backgrounds. How many of them could teach a good course in cloud computing or multi-core systems or software engineering or any of the many other topics that the graduates will find useful when they graduate? Are such courses always relegated to instructors or adjuncts or other non-tenure-track faculty?’ So, how does this jibe with Slashdotters’ experience?”

Source: CS Profs Debate Role of Math In CS Education

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