CS50: Learning computer science can be pure, unadulterated fun!

I think I’m reasonably educated (I can still do a lot better) and have sat under a number of teachers in my short lifetime. Recently, I decided to make a move into the field of computing – it’s not been that easy but very rewarding.

First, let me state that I have grown to believe that a deeper knowledge of computing is gradually becoming an absolute necessity for any serious professional. The coming of Big Data, AI and IoT have convinced me of this. On a personal level, my interest in all things statistics and data in my work and business have naturally taken me down this path.

Not that I was completely strange to computers. Being the curious cat that I am, I wrote my first computer program (the creation of a sprite) while visiting a friend in my days in medical school. After compulsory national service, my colleagues couldn’t understand why I was walking around with a book on calculus – and I didn’t understand it either. Perhaps it was the cock in me that was crowing

But, let me get to the point of this post. Recently I’ve been enduring a lot of really boring instructors when learning about R and C++ (I read somewhere that programmers are really poor teachers, as this is evident when you try to decipher the standard documentation that comes with these programming languages). So, the first time I came across Harvard’s CS50, I just skipped it. (I had taken one course in Harvard 2 years ago and it was really lousy.)

When I decided to look at the course again, I was simply blown away. Indeed, CS50’s reputation as the most popular computer science course is well deserved. It is simply a fantastic experience of pure fun and at the same time challenging enough to get one going in learning about computing basics.

The Professor, David Malan, and the rest of the staff are super brilliant and so, so good at teaching computer skills to both neophytes and hackers. I have never seen it done so well!

The good thing is that it’s not about one particular programming language, but about principles and combs quite effectively through low-level C paradigms, to higher level coding such as web programming (HTML, CSS, PHP) and SQL.

So, to sum it all up:

  • Computing is very important and is going to be more important in the years to come.
  • An easy, fun and stimulating introduction to computing (as well as refresher for more experienced programmers) is available with CS50.

You can set aside the 12 weeks-plus to take the course online on edX. The ongoing course will be ending December 31, 2016, but I’m pretty sure there will  be another opportunity soon. To get a whiff of what’s in the course, take a look at this video!

If you’re thinking of learning about programming, go for it. You will never regret it.

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