Academics slam Java

Levi Pearson levi at cold.org
Thu Jan 10 21:56:34 MST 2008


"Carl Youngblood" <carl at youngbloods.org> writes:

> My sentiments exactly.  I think that one thing that academia is
> failing us in is teaching people practical aspects of project
> management and defensive programming.  Languages can help with this,
> but there are always a lot more tips and tricks that should be used
> that aren't specific to any language, such as revision control
> techniques, testing of various kinds, continuous integration and other
> kinds of automation, all of which can determine a project's success or
> failure.  Most academics don't teach this stuff because they don't
> know it or are very rusty.

Certainly a set of best-practices is essential for developing
software, but that's tangential to what the article was talking about.
The authors are decrying the dumbing-down of computer science
education with respect to low-level computer knowledge and formal
methods.  While you could train a team of programers with little
low-level knowledge and no training in formal methods with the
practices you mentioned, and they'd be able to perform their typical
activities with much better efficiency and repeatability, they will
still be grunt-level coders plugging pre-written libraries together.
Thus, their jobs will be vulnerable to outsourcing.

If we want to have the talent here to create the sort of tools that
the grunt-level coders plug together, and have them be efficient,
secure, and correct, then we need to train up a new generation of
programmers who understand computers at a low level and are able to
understand and take advantage of formal methods.  Otherwise, we're
going to lose any sort of technical leadership we have in the area,
and all the nifty new tools will be imported from Japan, China, India,
etc. and you'll have to read your docs in translation.

I suspect that if our CS schools continue to get dumbed down, the pace
of innovation in softwaret tools will slow even further.  As computers
get put in more and more devices, and they start to have more powerful
hardware, you'll get the same plug-together grunt coders writing the
software in them and you'll see more and more devices crashing or
being incompatible with one another.  I hope enough people will get
decent education or educate themselves such that we can continue to
get similar reliability in our devices that we have now.

                --Levi



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