People in ruby and rails

Hi. Soon i will be deciding between studying "pure" computer science,
that is 5 years of unix, programming and the likes. But there are many
other courses out there that are good. Obviously I will choose what i
think fits me best and go with that, but in my interest and to try and
give me som guidance I started to look at the backgrounds of some of
the people envolved in rails, and a little in ruby and realised that
it was not as expected with a lot of variations from buisness studies
to philosophy (geoffrey grosenbach?). So how does it really look in
the community, or in this forum? What are your backgrounds?

Well I've got a degree in maths (as does in fact every one in our tech team, past and present) :slight_smile:

Fred

i was able to avoid any degrees so far and with a bit of luck this won't
change in future...

so my 'background' is a TI 99/4A

betaband wrote:

What are your backgrounds?

How about Statistics and General Linguistics...

Programming is just another form of language spoken to an, at times
obstinate, "I'm just doing what you told me to" responder...

English major to Christian Ministry major to currently undecided. I
think I might just become a part-time professional college student, if
anything, for the free stuff and various discounts at restaurants.

--Jeremy

Looks like someone has to speak up for the much-maligned computer science
degree. I've found my undergraduate and graduate computer science education
invaluable. A lot of it has to do with being able to recognize problems as
already solved. Sure, I may be pretty sure that there's a good way to find
out which points are "near" each other (for some definition of near) in a
two-dimensional space, but if I'd never heard of a Delaunay triangulation I
wouldn't be able to Google for code to do it.

A course on computer languages teaches you to think about languages at a
deeper level than how to express what you're trying to implement right at
the moment. A course on hardware (often called computer organization) gives
you insight into approaches to tuning performance. A course in algorithm
analysis (or more than one) gives a broad survey of various algorithms for
solving common problems, not to mention an understanding of their
complexity and tractability. A course on approximation methods and/or
probabilistic algorithms gives you tools to get a useful solution to
otherwise intractable problems. Approximation methods leads into AI,
particularly search algorithms, which leads into data mining.

These are just a few examples. I also encourage CS undergrads to take a
database course (not SQL training, but a course that talks about relational
algebra and how an RDBMS is actually built), an operating systems course
(if it doesn't involve writing assembly and servicing interrupts, it's
fluff), a compiler course (learn about classes of languages, and write lex
and yacc code), a graphics course (learning about quaternions is a bonus,
but you should be writing your own raytracer), something on parallel and/or
distributed processing (concurrency matters, though you can learn almost as
much from an OS or database course), and there are lots of special courses
(such as the course on how debuggers work that I had the good fortune to
take) that may come your way.

Mind you, I'm talking about good courses. I'm also talking about following
up the courses with discussions (and possibly graduate-level seminars) with
the professors. All the material for these sorts of courses is usually
available in books and online materials, but that's not the same as talking
to live human beings and getting a sanity check on the understanding you
think you're gaining.

On the topic of what's expected in the Ruby or Rails communities
(overlapping, but separate), that's irrelevant to your long-term future. If
you'd asked what you should study 10 years ago, before Ruby had significant
visibility, you might have been asking some Java community. When I was
heading to college, C++ was the big new thing. A solid basis in computer
science (and a willingness and desire to keep learning after school) will
keep you relevant through many Next Big Things.

--Greg

betaband wrote:

So how does it really look in
the community, or in this forum? What are your backgrounds?

Maths MA and Computation MSc. The latter involving semantics, analysis,
design and involving different types of languages. Using Smalltalk in
my dissertation was a lot of fun. :slight_smile:

Can't remember half of it now, but what I do comes in handy on a regular
basis. The thing is, though, that you can never stop learning. When I
did my MSc the web, Java, Perl and Ruby didn't exist. Things change a
lot all the time, so it's not always so important what you learn at the
beginning, but whether you continue to learn and discover new things as
you go.

I want to second everything Greg said. You can learn everything you
need to know without taking classes, but you are more likely to be
successful in a

Another peice of advice would be to search monster.com (or whatever
job site you please, try google, or IBM, or Sun) to see what is
suggested for the jobs you want to have. Nothing is set in stone, but
you will notice some trends about.

...
Lots of good stuff
...

Hi --

Hi. Soon i will be deciding between studying "pure" computer science,
that is 5 years of unix, programming and the likes. But there are many
other courses out there that are good. Obviously I will choose what i
think fits me best and go with that, but in my interest and to try and
give me som guidance I started to look at the backgrounds of some of
the people envolved in rails, and a little in ruby and realised that
it was not as expected with a lot of variations from buisness studies
to philosophy (geoffrey grosenbach?). So how does it really look in
the community, or in this forum? What are your backgrounds?

My academic background is a BA with double major in German and History
of Art, and a Ph.D. in Cinema Studies. I'm also a cellist.
Computer-wise, I started programming in 1972 -- having what was at
that time the extremely rare experience of being a kid (13) and having
access to a computer (PDP-10) and learning a great deal, mostly by
just being around it and being obsessed with it for about 1.5 years.
Then didn't do much with computers until about 1991, and then became
obsessed with programming again. I got my first Unix account in 1990,
so one thing led to another. I started using Linux in 1993 (0.99
patchlevel 14, I believe -- same as Dave Thomas, it turned out :slight_smile: and
I would say that I have, at the very least, a "minor" in system
administration, so to speak.

For some reason, merely *saying* anything in online forums is
sometimes mistaken for advocating some kind of position. I'm not
taking a position on how people should prepare themselves for
professional activity in the computer field, just describing my
background.

David

Thanks a lot to everyone for the great response! It appears to be even
more diverse than first assumed... ! I believe I understand your
points, Greg, about the difference between knowing and _knowing_ so i
will take that into account.