Daniel Lemire's blog

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Advice for a student going into Computer Science

I was recently asked what kind of advice I would give to someone who wants to study Computer Science. Where to go, what to study? The best article on the matter, at least the best I ever saw, is Undergraduation by Paul Graham. Here is an amusing quote:

The social sciences are also fairly bogus, because they’re so much influenced by intellectual fashions. If a physicist met a colleague from 100 years ago, he could teach him some new things; if a psychologist met a colleague from 100 years ago, they’d just get into an ideological argument.

Or this one…

Another way to figure out which fields are worth studying is to create the dropout graph. For example, I know many people who switched from math to computer science because they found math too hard, and no one who did the opposite. People don’t do hard things gratuitously; no one will work on a harder problem unless it is proportionately (or at least log(n)) more rewarding. So probably math is more worth studying than computer science.