Monthly Archives: September 2014

How Many Computer Scientists Does it Take to Change a Light Bulb?

… and other wild and carefree – probably offensive – stereotypes.  A collection of ‘light-hearted’ (see what we did there?) thoughts and anecdotes trying to get to the bottom of what makes a Computer Scientist tick.  There may or may not ultimately be a serious point …

It’s an old one but a good one:

There are 10 types of people in the world; those that understand binary and those that don’t

(At least, it’s as old and as good as CS jokes tend to be, which may not be a long vector in either direction.)  But how much truth lies behind it?  We hear a lot about this ‘computational thinking’, for example, these days but what does it take to be good at it?  To what extent is CS ability a natural thing compared to what can be realistically taught?  How much ‘computational thinking’ does everyone need today and how much can be left to the ‘experts’?  In which case, what do we expect from the ‘experts’?  Are programmers born that way or can the skill be developed?  (Compare with artists: can you teach someone with no sense of perspective to be a landscape painter?)  How much have Computer Scientists ‘evolved’ from experts in other disciplines?  Whatever the underlying statistics might say, it does often seem that Computer Scientists are a breed apart from the rest of the world so what makes them so ‘special’?

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