Wednesday, September 19, 2007

fewer computer scientists

economist vs. computer scientist?
so i stumbled upon this blog:
This is not necessarily a bad thing. It could be that in the past, in order to develop a useful computer-based product, you needed to be a computer science major. However, as computers have become easier to use and more generic, you do not need to be a computer science major to develop important applications. Think of Google hiring Hal Varian and a team of economist/quants to try to optimize its marketing by making better use of its data.

Yes, we still need cutting-edge innovation in computer science, but that is a function of really top-flight people, well into the 99th percentile of the distribution of intelligence. College students who are between the 80th and the 99th percentile might do more good using the stuff than attempting to help out on the bleeding edge.

haha. well this idea comes from an economist. its probably true our CS major numbers are down. but there is no correlation between that fact and his suggestion that you might not need to be a CS major to develop computer applications. haha, again to that blog.

we are seeing (in the industry) much more competition out there. i personally would love to see more CS majors that have software engineering skills in the hawaii high tech industry. again, it is what you make out of it. read my honors thesis blog.

yet, i see his point (at least a little). a good engineer to me is someone that loves to program and has domain expertise. so, maybe having both an economist degree and having a CS degree. or how about something more interesting that economy. say psychology, anthropology, biology, art, design, oceanography, etc. think about how cool it would be to do things like cultural modeling, design the next great visualization idea, implement better tracking systems for endangered specifies. my point of this is hacking is fun. i love hacking. i love it even more when i get to hack on things that love. it is a double bonus.

bottom line is to learn stuff that you are passionate about. period.

another blog about that article
here is some other thoughts about this:
Is It Better To Study Economics Or Computer Science? by Mike Masnick
His point appears to be that you can pick up enough computer science on the side, but that learning economics could come in a lot more handy -- even in the technology industry. Of course, he leaves out the fact that you can also pick up an awful lot of economics on the side. I'd argue that both skills are important, and it's difficult to see one being much more important than the other. If you have a proclivity towards one, then pursue that -- but if you're really skilled, why not learn both?

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