April 6, 2004 spout

Filling In Missing Computer Science Knowledge

Tuesday, April 6, 2004

Sometimes I get emails from folks that don’t have a formal computer science knowledge and want the benefits of one w/o actually going back to college. Since I was disappointed in my own formal education (despite going on to better” my BS in Computer Science with an MS), I can understand this desire.

My first thought was the MIT Open Courseware, which has a full course of computer science curriculum. However, while the course material is all there, unless there are officially sanctioned forums for each course, there’s really no place to ask questions even of fellow students.

After thinking on it for a while, I thought I’d go right to my favorite source. Prof. Joe Hummel is a professor of computer science at Lake Forest College in Illinois and has spent a lot of time thinking about how to fill in missing CS knowledge in professional programmers (VB programmers, mostly) at DevelopMentor. Here’s what he said:

For starters, I’d recommend a book by Brookshear called “Computer Science: an overview” (8th edition). It’s written for those new to CS, but introduces lots of nice CS concepts like algorithm analysis, theory of computation (e.g. that some problems cannot be solved!), and other things like OS, networks, DBs, etc. It’s a great starter book. After that, I’d recommend books on data structures and algorithms. After that, it really depends on what his interests are: Programming Languages? Theory? Operating Systems? Distributed Systems? Software Eng? AI?