How far can stack [LIFO] solve do automatic garbage collection and prevent memory leak ?

John Bokma john at
Sun Aug 22 20:12:36 CEST 2010

David Kastrup <dak at> writes:

> John Bokma <john at> writes:
>> David Kastrup <dak at> writes:
>>> John Passaniti <john.passaniti at> writes:
>>>> Amen!  All this academic talk is useless.  Who cares about things like
>>>> the big-O notation for program complexity.  Can't people just *look*
>>>> at code and see how complex it is?!  And take things like the years of
>>>> wasted effort computer scientists have put into taking data structures
>>>> (like hashes and various kinds of trees) and extending them along
>>>> various problem domains and requirements.  Real programmers don't
>>>> waste their time with learning that junk.  What good did any of that
>>>> ever do anyone?!
>>> It is my experience that in particular graduated (and in particular Phd)
>>> computer scientists don't waste their time _applying_ that junk.
>> Question: do you have a degree in computer science?
>> Since in my experience: people who talk about their experience with
>> graduated people often missed the boat themselves and think that reading
>> a book or two equals years of study.
> I have a degree in electrical engineering.  But that's similarly
> irrelevant.

Nah, it's not: your attitude towards people with a degree in computer
science agrees with what I wrote.

> That has not particularly helped my respect towards CS majors and PhDs
> in the function of programmers (and to be honest: their education is not
> intended to make them good programmers, but to enable them to _lead_
> good programmers).

I disagree. 

> That does not mean that I am incapable of analyzing, say quicksort and
> mergesort,

Oh, that's what I was not implying. I am convinced that quite some
people who do self-study can end up with better understanding of things
than people who do it for a degree. I have done both: I already was
programming in several languages before I was studying CS. And my
experience is that a formal study in CS can't compare to home study
unless you're really good and have the time and drive to read formal
books written on CS. And my experience is that most self-educaters don't
have that time.

On the other hand: some people I knew during my studies had no problem
at all with introducing countless memory leaks in small programs (and
turning off compiler warnings, because it gave so much noise...)

> Donald Knuth never studied computer science.

Yes, yes, and Albert Einstein worked at an office.

Those people are very rare. 

But my experience (see for plenty of examples: Slashdot) is that quite
some people who don't have a degree think that all that formal education
is just some paper pushing and doesn't count. While some of those who do
have the paper think they know it all. Those people who are right in
either group are a minority in my experience.

As for electrical engineering: done that (BSc) and one of my class mates
managed to connect a transformer the wrong way around.... twice. Yet he
had the highest mark in our class.

So in short: yes, self-study can make you good at something. But
self-study IMO is not in general a replacement for a degree. Someone who
can become great after self-study would excel at a formal study and
learn more. Study works best if there is competition and if there are
challenges. I still study a lot at home, but I do miss the challenges
and competition.

John Bokma                                                               j3b

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