Coding is not too difficult, but algorithm design and then establishing that the algorithm is provably correct is not as easy. Now, both parts are hard. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6636#6636, https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6613#6613. To use an example from above, if a large population of students who had literally never read an eighth note (quaver) suddenly enter into college music majors, do you expect that the results would be very different from what you are seeing among your computer science population? They might think that it's about learning how to work with computers, or become "power users", or programmers, or something along these lines. When you write an algorithm, your functions can't have errors, or the algorithm won't work. That article links to this one: Where an English interpreter writes code on the fly... https://twitter.com/sharifshameem/status/1283322990625607681, 2020 Stack Exchange, Inc. user contributions under cc by-sa, many factors but maybe a big one is the high mathematical content, and some abstraction, etc. Experts are harder to convince to be teachers, as not-teaching is lucrative, and teaching is difficult. We were exposed to other programming languages - there were several courses that were dedicated to specific languages. Each of these patterns is [b]hard[/b] to master, as they encapsulate extremely complex problems with seemingly arbitrary rules. First, I somewhat dispute the premise of the question. So it draws introverts; convincing introverts to have a career teaching students is an extra problem, reducing the pool of potential teachers further. 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. I personally think CS programs need to get serious about having a software engineering track/degree. People learning programming often run into one of these, and just can't get it. But that's certainly a good observation about upperclassmen, and also about graduate students who don't finish because they are specialized enough in something like AI to earn mid-6-figure salaries even without their PhD. I'll dub the Mathematics party "theoretical", and the programming part "applied". In reality, most of the students entering have little to no practical experience. This answer matches my experience pretty exactly. i.e. Some people realize this time commitment and determine they either don’t have, or don’t want to spend their time this way. Any Reasons Why You Shouldn’t Major in Computer Science? It takes some theory (of course it does) to be able to write programs. 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. The understanding of "how" the machine works, that is, a provably correct classical or quantum algorithm does not necessarily apply, but the empirical observations are intended to emulate what the biological brain would have done, including learning and adaptation to new "stimuli". (more on this coming up). They come, I think, largely because they believe that this is where the jobs are. Nobody is going to get taught CS. Or that many people could develop a flotilla of abilities at the same time? 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. : It's just a few conversational steps from thinking about worldwide internet protocols, to the need for check codes and error-handling, to the existence of cosmic rays in the physical universe that might corrupt transmitted data. Getting Into Class. Cornell University offers excellent computer science programs in three interconnected departments: Computer Science, Information Science, and Statistics and Data Sciences. You might be surprised to learn that A-Level Further Maths is not number 1 on my list, but it definitely comes in at a… Your last paragraph, is true in general. It Has Learned to Code (and Blog and Argue)", https://www.nytimes.com/2020/11/24/science/artificial-intelligence-ai-gpt3.html. They each top out somewhere and you have the normal range of mastery. By using our site, you acknowledge that you have read and understand our Cookie Policy, Privacy Policy, and our Terms of Service. Despite this, all nighters were a given, and some labs even had couches to crash on. Way back when I was young, I learned to program on home computers. That seems bananas to me, and is the real issue that needs to be addressed. Everyone knows that children love to run, dance, scream, and shout. Another is the creative ability to build strong abstractions that are both powerful and useful. @Buffy: yes, there is. Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California also offers a Computer Science Major, along with a Computer Science and Math joint major. Telling a machine what to do isn't difficult. Features such as modular functions, scope rules, local variables, classes and objects, encapsulation and data-hiding, etc., really only make sense in terms of a large team of programmers, engaged in a division of labor, communicating in a structured way so as to not corrupt the overall system. Some may interpret these statements as "elitist"; the issues are reality, not elitism. Admittedly, this is beyond what is covered in an ACM CS-1 course, but the issue is "why" do students find CSE "hard" (that is, a discipline in which many cannot demonstrate understanding proficiency). 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. 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". 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. Out teaching strategies don't help either. A lot of CS programs are pretty much already there, they just don't call it that. Programming is currently a lucrative, expanding field. 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. Others even are afraid of science! Which is not wrong. CS is maths, plus compiler design, the vim editor, gray codes, the use of tensor algebra to model shapes (Bookstein), the use of analytical topology to prove results about Perceptrons (Minsky and Pappert), the Godel incompleteness theorem, using gdb effectively, engineering philosophy, automated theorem proving, why this b = (b * 0x0202020202ULL & 0x010884422010ULL) % 1023 reverses a byte in three machine operations and with solving the integer knapsack using intelligent backtracking we get the tip of the iceberg. Compare to work written in math, physics, chemistry, etc. The other thing that I personally find challenging in teaching introductory programming is that so many of the core features of modern languages are designed to support large teams working cooperatively on long-term projects (see Brooks, et. Saying much the same thing, I think: computer programming is hard because "math is hard". You will feel like God. It's harder than it has to be, but that's a good thing. The answer of jmoreno states: When you write a statement, your variables and operators can't have errors, or the statement won't work. If a student has been deprived of a wide range of learning opportunities about the world, then they will be further disadvantaged. That said, the data seems to show that CS has even higher non-success rates than other STEM courses, so from this point on we'll inspect what makes CS even more challenging. and lets not forget that simply. It will take a lot of effort to graduate, and that’s a fact. 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). But when you try to do that in mathematics things just fall apart. The only problem is: you can't package and sell that. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6601#6601. Lisp seemed interesting up to around page 300 where they basically said, "But this won't actually work, so we need to use this big hammer to make it work." Computer science demands a set of qualities, some of which are somewhat antithetical. Compare that with big ideas that you find in a philosophy or (hopefully) history course. (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.). I don’t see anyone mentioning the fact that programming ≠ computer science. I didn't want to baby sit the machines, I wanted to program them and ended up in computer science. So, the first two causes are the important ones, showing that... these students chose a major that didn't actually fit for them. Some of these disciplines include math, psychology, and linguistics. I just found this to be a bit of a non-sequitur "... the theory, the mathematics of how computer logic and algorithms work. E.g. 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. 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". 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. Yes. Nearly everyone uses computing devices to communicate on a daily,... Is computer science hard? 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. Dijkstra already made these observations back in the 80's, thepennyhoarder.com/make-money/side-gigs/coding-bootcamp, https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_computer_science, https://online.stanford.edu/courses/soe-ycscs101-sp-computer-science-101. I am a programmer. CSE uses, develops, and requires "higher" mathematics. Is it something anyone can learn? The theory of computation is a course that teaches students how specific algorithms and models of computation can solve problems. Computer Science. Computer engineering students learn to master robotics, pattern recognition, speech processing and so much more. Finding a fast and efficient algorithm or data structure to solve you problem is - while certainly challenging - the simpler part of it, Computer Science Educators Stack Exchange, Computer science undergraduates most likely to drop out, Concern over drop-out rates in computer science courses. By contrast, many college majors come populated with students who have years of background in a topic, and are fairly certain that they like aspects of the field. And while... You are probably familiar with the field of civil engineering. It also requires a very good grasp of mathematical concepts (sometimes even abstract math). I teach computer science majors at a U.S. community college, and the non-passing rates are even higher in this context. @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. This question originally appeared on Quora: Why don't more people work as programmers?. What Is Computer and Information Science? Whether or not programming is hard for you depends as much on your personality as your computer skills. (https://dr-monsrs.net) Many people of all ages find it really hard to comprehend science and research! Are you good at science? And its rare that we find places to use them outside of CSci, so there's not much room to develop intuition. 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! Data pretty regularly shows that computer science programs have among the highest failure and dropout rates of any college program. I don't know how this is these days, but in my country, in the 1990's, CS was strongly coupled to maths - we had plenty of obligatory maths lectures which we shared with beginning maths or physics students; hardcore linear algebra, functional analysis, statistics etc. You do need it in order to do certain kinds of applied computer science problems, so even in "professional" courses it is taught. So we end up with a lot of people with a poor foundation in ciphering showing up in secondary education, then muddling though classes without every achieving mastery, then deciding to go into a lucrative field (programming). We shouldn’t be surprised that the academy breeds snobbery … As much as we would like to encapsulate computing technologies into neatly abstracted layers, this turns out to not be completely feasible. If so don’t let the “computer science is too hard to learn,” type of people deter you. I make a good living writing programs. I also started in Physics and used credits from that program to fulfill some CS requirements so my experience was somewhat unique. This most certainly got rid of quite a few students for better or worse. This is the "CS is misspelled math" fallacy. Quantum computing has a formal theory and is just starting to develop working hardware that instantiates quantum architectures. This is the tricky part, really. Popular programming languages include JavaScript, Python, Perl, and Postscript. If the teacher hasn't read Vygotsky and the class isn't based on some constructivist learning principles you can forget it. For students with weak English skills, possibly still learning the language for many foreign students, this is another significant challenge (probably more than other STEM fields). It is a creative yet tedious process that involves solid concentration. But CS isn’t about what an Ethernet cable does. Compare those topics to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_computer_science, and try to figure out how those topics even get you started on the path to figuring out how you might even frame those questions, let along solve them. This creates a sharp discontinuity in your initial ability to get things done. I daresay this is not much different from an electrical engineering student expecting to weild a solder iron a lot; or a mechanical engineering student expecting to work with a metal lathe. A while back, I did a computer science task which involved 4,000,000,000,000 operations, all of which had to be done absolutely perfectly in order for the answer to be valid. Compare those topics to https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/List_of_unsolved_problems_in_computer_science, and try to figure out how those topics even get you started on the path to figuring out how you might even frame those questions, let alone solve them. It was all about algorithms, evaluating them and using them. The first link says that the drop out rate is 10% for CS, 7% for Business or Engineering, so not a huge difference. Maybe you took a computer science course in high school, and you’re intrigued by the subject. These are all levels of abstraction programmers have developed to manage increasingly complex programs. It has a limited vocabulary that you can "speak" to it in, and it has a limited ability to give you responses. Does an IT person who is "information security certified" (typically with a vendor-based credential) understand encryption in terms of the actual mathematics (for example, I use both the declassified Shannon monograph as well the details of AES as explained in the original Rijndael exposition), or quantitative threat estimation, Nash game theory and what goes beyond Nash, etc.? That's me and computer science. Most universities offer computer science programs, but there are some with nationally ranked programs that you should keep on your radar. End excerpt. ), The processor that you are writing code for is a bunch of logic blocks. So: What would be the best reply to a beginning CS student who asks, "Why is CS hard?". We also need people who write programs just like we need people who pick up a hammer and a saw and build the things the architects and engineers design. Those weak in mathematics tend to have a terrible time learning programming, as the bulk of … But in certain combinations of economic factors and media hype, a lot of students go in to CS not really understanding what they are getting in to but are lured by the, perhaps elusive, draw of big salaries. Our basic problem is that they are the wrong students with the wrong motivations. There's something very unintuitive about how you had to work with them. GCSE English Literature. "because it’s a branch of symbolic logic". Do you have solid math skills? An IT person working on a quantum processor will memorize rules, but will most likely not have an understanding of quantum mechanics (and the underlying mathematics). But even if we cut out the heavy research/math components: many or most students can't pass even the introductory programming course that you're talking about. And unless you get it, you can't get past that barrier, and often fail out. While this code generation tool is impressive, I have serious doubts that it can be applied to actually relevant problems. That does not generalize. When you write a function, your statements can't have errors, or the function won't work. We can afford to make a few mistakes here and there, we just try to keep them small so that they don't change the result of the election. In addition to the many good answers on here, as a past student, TA and instructor in CS — most programming assignments and projects often take large amount of time, even if slimmed down to just fundamentals. ), https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6604#6604. Those small mistakes in software source code often appear superficially to be completely correct. Certainly, a fair number of them will be able to pick up and get things sorted out, but there will absolutely be a sizeable population who will find that wall too hard to climb. Computer scientists are involved in creating technology and systems that are used in a wide range of industries, including medicine, communications, entertainment, manufacturing, business, and science. As neurosynaptic or quantum processors become more readily deployed, the issues will only increase. Maybe that's where some of those "failures" and "dropouts" need to be - learning to do things with today's tools rather than looking for tomorrow's tools. He drops out of college, and goes off looking for a way to do what he's interested in. That apparent correctness tends to rest on an assumption so basic that programmers don't even realize they've made it. And, having done it both ways, the theoretically optimal way is often slower (until you get to very large numbers of records). Then, you can decide if it is something you want to study. If you think Computer Science is devoid of creativity, … 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. Is computer science hard? But no single one of these factors fully explains why so few people study computer science, even when there are so … 50% of the students in my cohort dropped out during the first two years as well. Some have called the computer the most complex creation of mankind; e.g., in the title of David Eck's introductory CS textbook, The Most Complex Machine. 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. And there's some real beauty in seeing how people grappled with this with cunning intuitions. So how hard is computer science, how much math is in it and should I major in it? Aug 7 at 13:27 Within AI, students learn how to program computers to hold traits needed for solving complex problems, such as the ability to reason, learn, and ask questions. Too many beginning students and teachers think that programming is "if" and "while" and "assignment" and nothing else. They want to drive sports cars whilst playing CODwars and wearing hoodies. I don't blame the teachers who have to do this as many are forced in to it (in the US) simply because schools are underfunded and understaffed with too few specialist teachers. Once you pass that tier, you end up with yet another situation where there are discontinuous errors that are harsh on relative beginners. Computer science students need to understand how these work and even how to design them, which can be quite challenging. In CS, the work is mediated by the computer system itself, which is fairly demanding in its syntactical strictness. Why would we think that it is something that can be easily and directly taught? In our world of ever-evolving technology, computer science professionals are absolutely vital in making sure our computer systems run properly. In short, to succeed well in computer science, a student needs to master a counterintuitive skill, and the bar for mastery is close to being pass/fail. The amount of discipline and patience required to study and work in CS is enormous and it is not for everyone. As a computer science student, you need to understand how a computer comes to a particular solution. My first programming lessons were with a math teacher who was good in algorithm but came to me regularly when a student has an issue because I started programming by myself before going to this class. This will make for some frustrating mismatches. Some people may say the extensive math and science involved in the subject make computer science hard to learn, and if you’re not good at math and science, that may be true. Do you have a mechanical brain that enjoys looking at every minute detail of a problem in order to solve it? Why are computer science drop-out rates so high? 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. The difficulty of CS (true or imagined) and the drop out rates are not the same thing. I also was a DP programmer (now a DBA), but even still that background has bee very useful in choosing the best library or database design to use. Introductory problems are likely to come from many different fields -- e.g., in my own course, book exercises involve geometry, statistics, savings interest, sound waves, biological population growth, workplace employment rules, taxation, meteorology, sports, corporate finance, etc. I'm interested in writing a program that makes some task easier - and that might involve using hashes or dictionaries or linked lists or what have you. Related to the English communication skills noted above, the student likewise needs a lot of "domain specific knowledge". He tells the folks in school that he'd like to build things - houses or furniture or bridges - and they send him to college to study mechanical engineering. Strategies that work at lower levels of complexity fail at higher ones, so students who are using "ill advised" strategies can easily pass a course then fall apart in the next one. Students tend to be unprepared for the constructive nature of the Computer Science discipline. Every program you write ends up being instructions for some idiot-savant computer to follow. Additionally, CS has also, and fairly suddenly, become a wildly popular major. A number of sources all echo the finding that roughly one-third of incoming CS majors do not progress to a second year, higher than most other majors. Consider the following article from the New York Time Tech section: "Meet GPT-3. All I'm looking for is the hindranc... Stack Exchange Network. Although I have been working in industry for a year, I am still looking at only entry level jobs. This dropout rate is considerably higher than in other majors. But with computer syntax no such flexibility is possible: if a single symbol is misplaced, then no defined program exists. Maybe your program was a more rigorous CS program that what I experienced. In order to do multiplication effectively, you have to not only be able to do addition, but you have to master it. Students are drawn to it not out of intrinsic interest or inclination, but because they want to make money at it. In many other fields, you can muddle along with the previous foundation layer having issues, and maybe patch it up later. 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. Don't try to be a Conductor if you can't play any instruments. Maybe computer science is hard, because it gets lost in translation. These are two entirely different disciplines, and it seems to me that there isn’t enough emphasis on this fact. For the purposes of this answer, I'll assume that in the first year or so, teaching computer science is synonymous with teaching software engineering. Computer science requires are lot of learning and knowledge to master. The computing professional must be detail-oriented (to the level of individual symbols), simultaneously be able to keep the big-picture in mind, and adjust the level of conceptual abstraction at any time. The first is periodic and I don't know where we are in the period at the moment. Computer programming and software engineering courses are another large part of computer science. I'm going to present the view from someone who left computer science early - one of those from the "failure and dropout" group. Yep. One also needs to be able to digest a fairly large amount of new technical detail at a rapid pace, learn about other arbitrary domains in the world to interface with them, and be committed to continually learning new fields and technologies throughout one's career. 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. On top of that, the profession is a relatively solitary one. That very simple step is mirrored along the entire tower of mathematical knowledge. As it happens I have been looking for an entry level software engineering position in Ohio recently as well. Reading these comments, I have a few things to mention. The reason why this is important is because everyone wants an engineering degree in computer science. The greats like Alan Turing and Grace Hopper truly revolutionized things with cunning shifts in intuition. First, let’s dissect this topic a little bit, and see why Comp Sci has such an intimidating reputation. Failing that we will have no choice but to make it illegal, then we'll be seeing talent everywhere. 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). This involves some pretty heavy lifting in the big picture thinking department. Unfortunately, making the book big enough to prove every known result is a double-edged sword, as it forces the computer to consider far more options. And without mastery of the previous tiers of mathematics, the theoretical computer science they teach is extremely difficult. The colossal growth of computing in the past few decades offers evidence … I've always wondered why corporate IT recruiters believe CS is relevant to most of the positions they are trying to fill. This is, and has always been a recipe for disaster. Starting off the top 3 hardest GCSEs, we have GCSE English Literature. Mechanical engineering teaches him how to design the things, but that's not what this guy wants. Why is CSE much more difficult than IT? These are good questions, so let’s find the answers. Learn how to make an easy to use program (user interfaces. But it isn't easy. You break the task down to pieces and phrase it in the vocabulary the computer has and tell it how to assemble its response. That is, studying things that would let you make better computers or discover new algorithms. Some people in elementary and secondary schools are forced to teaching CS and especially Advanced Placement CS when they have little understanding of the topic and just try to stay "one week ahead" of the students. 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. But for many reasons (such as the need to master all the basics), students are working on assignments and tests in isolation. In the past, when computers were weaker, what made CSci so hard is that the tools did not fit the problems as well as we might like. Is programming hard? When you connect algorithms into a simple program, the algorithms can't have errors, or the program won't work. Maybe some of those who "fail" should have been somewhere else rather than funneled into computer science. Most of such accumulation is based upon technology, not basic science or engineering. The problem isn't that computer science is hard, its too easy. Prelude A: This is an area of ongoing research, and there's no consensus theory at this time. The number of students grows over time, so the previous generation of students (who supply the teachers) is smaller. I have worked at brainless manual labor positions before and I find that so much easier and natural I don't feel drained after an 8 or 10 hour shift, instead I feel satisfied after a hard day of work. In short, it requires some very serious effort and a very special mix of skills to become a good programmer. @ScottRowe Apprenticeships work well when there are enough unskilled tasks that someone can do whilst learning the skill. @ScottRowe, some subjects really require at least some interest to gain enough proficiency. Like any STEM field, CS is technical, detail-oriented, and has objectively right and wrong answers (at least in terms of what counts as a syntactically valid program, a program that produces logically correct results, and so forth). ), (As an aside, there is a small added difficulty. Why are we still kicking this can? The graphics course was hands down one of these, given the involved and highly detailed work required to get things working. I don't understand why you don't think knowing how algorithms work doesn't make you a better programmer. And that negates some of the big benefits of why you should major in Computer Science in the first place! That was just sort of the usual daily expectations. Before starting at SCC in 2013, she taught English at the middle and high school levels for five years. So: don't try to write a symphony if you can't write for any single instrument. From my experiences (I studied about 15-20 years ago, and my cohort lost 50% of students within the first four semesters), the main reasons are these: By the way, this does not end in the university; the same phenomenon happens in IT companies - you get a few high-flyers who really live and breathe IT and CS (as far as CS applies to IT in modern software projects at all...), and plenty of people who just do their job on most days, or eventually find out that it's just not for them. I don't care how fast radix sort is, if you have to sort a bunch of numbers, you'll typically do it the intuitive way rather than the theoretically optimal way. https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6643#6643, Can it write FizzBuzz? What I wanted wasn't available at that time and place, so I quit. Computer Science, as taught, is a combination of Mathematics and Computer Programming. Each stage of this effort has to not only be good, but perfect, as errors in a lower tier of complexity will compound and make the next one impossible to do. 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"). Take a look at Stanford’s CS 101 https://online.stanford.edu/courses/soe-ycscs101-sp-computer-science-101 and the list of topics covered. Because it produces information and thus reduces entropy, that requires work that in turn produces waste heat (increasing the entropy external to the created information) -- and requires an understanding of at least classical thermodynamics, or preferably an understanding of statistical mechanics and how entropy arises. Microprocessors are one of the big topics in computer science, as they are the logic chips and engines of computers. The Hard Part of Computer Science? The other point is that computer science uses logic (the first-order classical predicate calculus or perhaps higher orders), but in many ways goes beyond such logic. It gives students the feeling that they are mastering aspects of computing, but hides away so many details that I believe it can actually add to the frustrations of students once they are faced with actual programming, working with command lines, importing libraries, etc.). I think there may be some other elements at play. 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. The number one thing that attracts me to a CS major is the fact that I a) build … And they aren't interested in that either. Particularly for students with ID's such as dyslexia, this may be a significant extra challenge. I've done quite well by it, though. Here are some things Ive noticied about the market that influence how hard … That is only a part of CS. Every programming problem is judged first not by your instructor, but by the world's most harsh marker; the compiler/interpreter. This is somewhat the answer I was going to write - why do people begin a course of study at 18 with no experience? $\endgroup$ – J.G. E.W. Afterall, they are here for the salary, the fun, the kudos. There's great frustration in the handling of 330,000,000 slips of paper (give or take, depending on voter turnout) and getting them into the right places and making sure they're all done right. Programming is the art of managing insane amounts of complexity while telling a complete idiot how to solve a problem, exactly. In software source code, it is not only not rare, but actually common for small mistakes to have large or even catastrophic consequences. There's loads of fun to be had in CS, infinities of it. I went off and joined the US Air Force, then got a job working in electronics, then cycled my way back to programming through my work experience. Computer science at the time was more about the theory, the mathematics of how computer logic and algorithms work. The field itself is young. This presents a very narrow view. The current AP curriculum, I think, is seriously flawed (dropping interfaces, in particular). I think there is a element where people are picking up on this 'everyone in the future must be able to code' attitude that has become fashionable in the last ten years or so. Computer Science is a difficult field to study and learn for a number of reasons. (Then again, it was a mid-tier State school in the mid 1980s. Can it write FizzBuzz in a special version that prints "manziel" for every number divisible by 13? As a current CS student, I'd love nothing more than to have a computer science class that actually challenged me, but 95% of my time has been spent on the associated math and physics requirements, which is why I'm currently in my 4th year of a "2-year" college, hoping to transfer to a "4-year" college next fall. Swarthmore College in Pennsylvania is another great option; students in this program have won robot contests at the annual American Association of Artificial Intelligence Conference and have qualified for the International Finals of the Association for Computing Machinery programming contest. … Many of the students I have met do not understand the difference between Information Technology (IT) and CSE. None of that was taught in the courses available to me. 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. Just teach me the big hammer right away and skip the interesting digression. @RonJohn Computer programming per se is not CS. So this also doesn’t fully explain why more people aren’t majoring in CS. But if you are a talented mathematician with a technical, scientific way of thinking, you may be perfect for the field. 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. It's been 35 years since I implemented a non-trivial hashing algorithm, b-tree, or invert index, and almost as long since I implemented a linked list. With other fields, we know millions of ways not to teach it; with computer science, we haven't had time to make as many mistakes and refine our education. When it was my turn I said "extra homework". What Area of Economics Focuses on the Interactions Between Individual Consumers and Producers? And even that is hit and miss. I have seen it and done it (with help from my TAs and myself) -- but those who dispense resources (funds, personnel, facilities) do not provide those resources, and students who could "swim" instead "sink". (Trinity News, 2016) ... Computer science is hard because it’s a branch of symbolic logic and logic is hard. That is, studying things that would let you make better computers or discover new algorithms." 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. @blues I think that this question mostly refers to the students who are dropping out from cs1, because they either didn't like it or couldn't keep up. This is of course as ridiculous as saying everyone must be an engine mechanic or concert pianist. While computer science doesn’t have a reading list, it has some of the highest contact hours and toughest exams – there’s much more to a computer science degree than people realise. the games industry which still motivates many people to register in CS. In this regard, I sometimes point students to this image (I believe first originating from a website that no longer exists, but e.g., referenced here). I don't necessarily believe that it is harder. This semester I had a student in my virtual office hour ask, "Why is computer science harder than other majors, as you say? What is an MS in Computer Science; ... and more difficult for others. Early 1980s. I can program most everyday business applications using existing tools and libraries, but I would be hard pressed if I had to attend university CS, which deals with the math underlying many of the libraries. To get to the 10,000 hour mastery mark, you need to put in those first 9999 hours. Getting into these UCLA schools is harder. End excerpt. How Long Does it Take to Get a Master’s Degree in Computer Science? This is a branch of mathematics, and like most kinds of mathematics requires iterative mastery. I think tech is one of them. My head of department posed a question at a staff meeting, "how can we reward those students that work really hard?". In some countries, like India, computer work has been touted as the way to earn a lot of money and many people rushed into it without being interested in the topic one bit. You have to reach near-100% reliability on each tier, and learn how to deal with the less-than-100% reliability, before you can get any kind of reliability on the next. The educators problem is that teaching that background requires fixing their 10 years of primary and secondary mathematics the student came in with. According to computer science majors, here are some of the topics that make computer science, well, hard: Artificial Intelligence (AI) Artificial Intelligence tops the list as one of the most difficult topics in computer science, as it teaches students how to program intelligent computers. This is not the fault of CS. ", and I was a bit flat-footed for a good response. That wasn't what I wanted at all. Instead, they are forced to examine each word in isolation, then after verifying them themselves they can look at each sentence in isolation, etc. To handle this, programmers have come up with increasingly abstract patterns. Students who are weak in mathematics tend to be weak in programming and therefore weak in Computer Science. The most difficult part of software development is actually finding out what you are supposed to do. If you’re looking to get a master’s degree in computer science, then you already know that computer science is... One thing is for certain – technology has become an essential part of how we operate and do business.... Economics, a social science, is the study of how individuals, businesses, governments, and countries produce, supply, and consume goods and services. @CeesTimmerman I was in a college course that used SICP almost 40 years ago. For example, one model uses an empirical connectome (at a specific scale of detail, not necessarily at each neuron and other brain components), observed from a non-human primate. He goes on to explore a total of 11 possible contributing factors. Renee Whitmore is an Associate Professor of English at Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, North Carolina. The actual science part is difficult, but not really any more so than any other science discipline. other fields, getting something wrong by a small margin usually has an effect that is worse than desired by a correspondingly small margin. It requires mathematics (including "arithmetic") to establish algorithms; however, once one accepts that, one is beyond logic that provably is consistent and complete, and faces instead the problem of Gödel's incompleteness theorems. Computers don't have those assumptions, and operate by their own internal logic that was artificially created by legions of computer scientists. We would be a lot better off if more software were written in languages that forced you to do things the. Computer science is hard. Academic languages are rarely used. Better approaches to breaking down problems. As an example: why does a real computer create heat? Many students do not really know what CS is about. Students program in "rich" languages and environments using only the lowest level concepts, never really understanding abstraction or (gasp) polymorphism. But why is computer science so hard? We need computer science, just like we need mathematicians and physicists and architects. I have been a professor of computer science and engineering (CSE) in the USA for a number of years in ABET accredited CAC and EAC undergraduate programs (graduate programs do not have ABET accreditation in CSE as I recall). In particular CS is NOT programming, though skill in programming is needed. While some people may cite difficulty, most of the time, it’s simply lack of fit. Given that I taught CS for about 40 years, I understand that and, moreover, what it does include. This branch is all about understanding the idea of computation, as opposed to the art. I would say the answer is shifting from "the strangeness of the platform" to "the raw number of operations that have to be perfect.". 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! Mathematics is the part that is the theory of computing, and programming is the art of applying it. My point is this: in addition to the stated classical unsolved problems, completely different approaches to computation are being proposed and actually developed into physical machines (with the understanding that biological systems are, in this sense, physical machines -- no supernatural invocations involved). I don't think the general public generally knows what CS is. Interfaces to the user must likewise be clearly expressed. I was really thinking about Bem's theory of self perception. "They come, I think, largely because they believe that this is where the jobs are." Our political representatives and managers want to see success in STEM subjects generally, so many false promises, bribes and other forms of encouragement are applied to 'encourage' learners into STEM. I studied CS from the mid-1980s to the early 1990s in a European country. 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. Homogenous systems and all the millions of software packages interacting with each other can be frustrating, but it's nothing compared to users who can't be … The student, whose goal was "get a highly paid programming job", finds this abstract computer science both hard and difficult to connect to their goal. There was a silence, then the head of department asked me if I "was serious". You need some idea of how the machines work, and how things get from code to execution. Hmmm. 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. I'm in the "just write programs" camp. In my time, there were the classic lectures like how to build a compiler for a programming language; or more theoretical topics like automatons, temporal correctness and such. Computer science is one of the most popular fields today, with millions of workers already working in the industry.... Technology and information impact every aspect of modern life. I believe that particularly in CS our learners are being driven by the promise of extrinsic rewards. Why are computer science drop-out rates so high? Nowdays, what I think makes CSci so hard is that the primary thing we do is operations that have to get repeated many many many many times. CS requires, as you say, ability in many areas at once. 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). At least in my western country, there really was no good way for a young pupil to really find out about this. : it will likely be read by a human instructor, who may be able to forgive or fill in some smaller errors in spelling, grammar, punctuation, etc. That kind of perfection is just part of the job. Its hard. That's why mathematicians still have to think so much. I wanted to learn how to be a better programmer. This is a story that I'm constantly trying to tell to my students and want them to visualize, but I fear that the lack of concrete experiences with this "large team, complex software" reality makes it hard to fully appreciate. This has a number of impacts. The last bullet point in particular rings true for me: I almost failed due to the stringent math requirements, despite doing well in math back in high school. When I started taking university courses, the options were MIS (management information systems - managing computer systems) and computer science. Inevitably, careers in this field are growing. @Gnudiff maybe I just went to the "wrong" University for a Comp Sci degree. Lets make it hard but lets have our students wanting to do actual CS. Using modern apps on phones and websites not only teaches students little about computer science, but in my experience, it has almost been a negative. We should return to teaching our young learners assembly language, get them editing real source code, throw all the maths from the trapezium rule to matrix inversions to axioms for semi-groups with unity at school. There is a lot of hype out there about AI at the moment, and self driving cars, and going to Mars, etc. I can relate about teachers in early schools (I don't know the American education enough to know which levels) not knowing programming enough. A serious college level course in CS might be shocking to someone who has only dabbled in trivial elements of programming. And it has to be done 330 million times. The tools you use to immaculately manage 4 trillion operations while you sit back and sip your coffee are, obviously, rather exacting. A few might learn if they're motivated though. Colleges will even go so far as making you take an aptitude test and then telling you that you failed it. We’ve ranked both the best computer science degrees and the most affordable computer science degrees that you can get online. 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. Prelude B: Of course, CS is in the STEM meta-discipline, and those programs are commonly more demanding than non-STEM courses. It doesn't need to be hard to drive people away, just boring. Opportunities for true creativity and innovation. It depends. The first is the economic motivation -- accumulation of wealth or even gainful employment. "... the. Well, nothing in life is easy, but computer science is a different kind of hard. There is much more. 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. Why Are Music and Movement Important for Early Childhood Education. So here's my stab at a brief answer to the inquiring student: Computer science is something of an everything-discipline. 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. This is a valid observation, but it doesn’t explain behaviors on the margin. Let me start an answer, but it might take several iterations to get all my thoughts together on the two ideas. Looking back on my experience and education as a software engineer, I think the largest inherent contributors of difficulty in computer science are that it has exceptionally strict and unforgiving standards for correctness, and that solving problems in it often requires an exceptional degree of questioning or ignoring "common sense" basic assumptions. People perceive "hard" to mean more difficult, whereas, in truth, it may be much more challenging to devise and interpret an experiment in a so-called soft science than in a hard science. 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. Computer science focuses on complex topics such as computer theory, computing problems and solutions, programming and development, and much more. 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.). There is much more to CS than that. Is there a better place to learn programming than in a computer science setting? https://cseducators.stackexchange.com/questions/6598/why-is-computer-science-hard/6599#6599. There is a definite learning curve to build the skills, and personal mental model surrounding syntax, compilation, building, layout, debugging and deciphering build errors, and that’s before the more interesting data structures and algorithms kick in. Students get into computer science programs and realize this field is just not something they want to pursue. I think I can count the number of students in "my" class who were really interested in the topic on one hand, amongst dozens or in some courses hundreds. As I type this, in the USA, we are dealing with the 2020 national elections. It also says that 53% dropped out because they weren't getting enough value for their money, 50% because they were not interested, and 33% because it was too hard. 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. I don't belong in computer science. It is not so difficult for some to understand science! And as academics are teaching it, often it is included anyhow, as the theoretical computer science often is needed to expand the entire field of knowledge of computer science. But are hard for somewhat different reasons. I lost all interest in Lisp after that. I didn't even warm up a grid, which would have added a few zeros to that. C worked from page 1. Actually, computer science is much more than what you suggest. Computer science is hard because it’s a branch of symbolic logic and logic is hard. A lot of people who I've worked with who claim CS isn't helpful for programming make very naive choices that lead to inefficient, overly complex, and inefficient solutions and have no idea how poor their choices were or why. Computer science is hard. WRT the second theme, it might even be that the current push to teach "CS" in elementary schools is actually part of the problem, not the solution. Neurosynaptic computing is a much more empirical approach to producing something akin to actual "artificial intelligence".
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