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This is easy answer. VMS didn't get in their way. When they needed help to get something done, they got an accurate, reasonable and...
We all have prejudices that simplify our decision making, but sometimes they lead to bad choices.
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In an abstract arm-waving way, that is a very plausible argument, but it is not...
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Elliott Roper --snip i think there is some of this in all the great high energy physics labs, and in several other physics departments in the early 80...
There's a certain mindset that makes a good programmer. People of my generation, and many since then with that mindset tended towards Physics or Maths because they were hot subjects (in the 50s and 60s), were the subjects available to them with a good match to their interests, and because they had acquired some familiarity with them at secondary school, so knew what to expect. While that explains why many Physics graduates make good programmers, this education itself doesn't actually have much effect on their programming abilities, and, indeed, many physicists and mathematicians make lousy programmers.
Since Computer Science has been available at universities, many of the people with the right mindset go for it instead of Physics, and that does them no harm. Unfortunately, two other groups of people also choose CS. First, there are the teenage whizkids, self-taught and full of bad habits and arrogance, who refuse to unlearn, and will not accept the discipline. Second, there are those who believe that IT is a good career choice, and go for it without knowing that they have little talent for it.
A problem is that universities are not trade schools. A pbutt is not an indication of mastery of the subject matter. A scrape pbutt may mean getting 50% in an exam. Contrast this with a driving test, where a single bad move guarantees failure. In contrast with other production lines, universities are expected to produce high rates of success without much control over the quality of the raw material. In those parts of the world where there is open entry, universities compete for students and funding is based on bums on seats, failing too many is considered a bad career move. And we all know that 90% of everything is crud.
When you compare CS graduates to Physics PhDs, perhaps you are overemphasising the subject difference and underestimating the importance of the PhD. Getting a PhD (in any science subject) proves a high intellectual ability, an ability to take responsibility, to work alone, and to carry through a large project to completion, all essential to success at programming. It's more difficult to buttess these qualities in any new Bachelor-level graduate, whatever the subject.
-- Wellington, New Zealand
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snip All so very true. I particularly like the part about quality of raw material -- some is, of course, quite good, but some is, well, not. And bad career moves...
"What's life? Life's easy. A quirk of matter. Nature's way of keeping meat fresh."