[Chicago] teaching intro programming to geoscience undergrads, via swc list

Lewit, Douglas d-lewit at neiu.edu
Fri May 22 10:27:14 CEST 2015


Which university did you attend?  Sounds like a great place!!!  When I was
working on my math degree I think my favorite classes were Calculus I
(because the teacher was so cool and really friendly ), Linear Programming
(not to be confused with computer programming ), Linear Algebra (great
teacher and I think arrays and matrices are just really interesting) and
also Maple programming.  (Yeah I know, Maple isn't fashionable anymore, but
it really is a nice software package for advanced mathematical analysis.
It also comes out of Canada, and I love Canada!  I may even retire there
someday, but we'll see about that.)

Every math department is a little different.  Generally (but not
necessarily) math department that call themselves "applied math" are going
to emphasize a lot of programming.  I spent a semester at IIT in the math
department and I really didn't like it.  For one thing, there seems to be a
strong cultural conflict there.  I felt that the professors treated the
Chinese and American students differently, but maybe that was just how I
perceived it.  But also, the math department there claims to be "applied
math", but I thought my courses were uber, super theoretical.  Not much
emphasis on programming or computer applications.  That's why I didn't
continue with the math program there.  So now I'm working on my M.S. in CS
at Northeastern.  Northeastern may not be the best university around, but
it's affordable and most of the people there are pretty open and friendly.
The profs are usually willing to help students, and for the most part
students communicate and cooperate with one another regardless of different
cultural or racial backgrounds.

Your Combinatorics class sounds really interesting!  There certainly is a
fair amount of overlap between math and computer science departments.  A
lot of math majors minor in CS and a lot of CS majors minor in math.  So
obviously the two disciplines are closely related, but again that doesn't
mean that ALL mathematicians are programmers!  NO WAY!  I know a really
good math prof at Northeastern who hates to program, and she will openly
admit it.  On the flip side of that you've got some pretty good programmers
who really do not like discrete math, discrete structures, finite state
machines, cellular automata, algorithms, etc.  These people can usually
turn out great code, but they're just not that good at or not interested in
a lot of the purely academic or theoretical stuff.

I think what got me into programming was really my course in Maple and also
my Linear Algebra course.  I thought Maple was really cool, and ever since
Linear Algebra I've been really into all kinds of algorithms that work on
arrays and matrices.  (A good example would be the algorithm that applies
the Gauss-Jordan reduction method to a matrix in order to solve a system of
linear equations.  It's actually not a trivial program to write.  Never
tried it in Python or Java, but I implemented the algorithm in Mathematica
using the Wolfram Language. )

On Thu, May 21, 2015 at 1:19 PM, sheila miguez <shekay at pobox.com> wrote:

> On Thu, May 21, 2015 at 1:11 PM, sheila miguez <shekay at pobox.com> wrote:
>> One of the coolest classes I had for my CS degree was a combinatorics and
>> graph theory class taught in the math department by a prof who was also in
>> the education department. Cool things about the class:
> okay, now that I'm reminiscing, the other favorite class I had was
> advanced logic with an eccentric professor who didn't use any text book and
> handed out a photocopy from a Greek textbook so that everyone would be
> familiar with the Greek alphabet.
> He totally lectured and wrote the hell out of the chalkboard, but it was
> so kick ass and we were completely enthralled and scribbling. He also
> refused to give grades during hte semester. We kept a homework journal and
> would turn it in periodically. He'd return it back with feedback and we had
> to keep turning it in until we reached the quality he expected. He'd leave
> fake grades like "probably eventually pass" and "pass".
> I got a kick out of the photocopy because it was from a Greek textbook I
> had from when I took some classical Greek courses for a couple of semesters.
> This was in the math department and also counted towards a CS degree.
> Okay... and while I was there, I found a mathy class in the philosophy
> department that also concerned logic and took that too. excellent combo of
> classes. I had thought about adding philosophy as a major for cognitive
> science stuff but ended up adding psychology because it felt like
> experimental philosophy.
> --
> shekay at pobox.com
> _______________________________________________
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