Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

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#1 fart  Icon User is offline

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Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 01:28 AM

I am planning on enrolling in a Bioelectronics (Engineering) degree for next year. I understand C and on my way to learning it completely and implementing it next semester in my Industrial Design course when I toy with microcontrollers in my major project. But reading through these course notes it says that I will working with Java, Assembly and MATLAB. Meanwhile, doing more microcontroller stuff. Does anyone know of an effective way to go about understanding/learning how to work in those formats before March next year? I have been cramming my C and I might even have to step up to C++ for some applications. I know Java will also be useful for when I attempt Android (not robots, the OS, but that would be awesome though...) programming. I am sure I could learn all of these in that period, my main concern is getting them all mixed up or forgetting some syntax as I learn another. Are there any simple rules to follow when moving between languages?

Thanks for your help, I am new to these forums, so please excuse my low post count, I will hopefully be able to contribute some of my design/web dev knowledge over time.

- fart

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Replies To: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

#2 DivideByZero  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 04:16 AM

Java is very similar to C in terms of syntax, so don't worry you'll pick it up VERY quickly.
I'm not sure what MATLAB is exactly, so try mastering that now :)

This post has been edited by DivideByZero: 16 July 2011 - 04:19 AM

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#3 darek9576  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 05:05 AM

MATLAB is different from Java and C but i have only done image processing with it so dont know much about it.
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#4 karabasf  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 07:03 AM

Matlab is a high level programming software, which uses Java. A lot of my fellow students prefer it, because a lot of functions are already builtin (e.g. matrix calculations) and so on.

It is a bit different when compared with Java, but the syntax is (if I recall it correctly) quite the same. Also, Matlab supports OOP (although never worked with it) and instead of methods, you have to write function files.

Personally, I'd say that the learning curve of Matlab is not that high. I used it for data processing (eigenmotion calculations of an aircraft), some simulations (Balanced field length calculations) and some image processing (for processing satellite radar data and converting it to images).

Hope this helps you out ^^
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#5 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 07:13 AM

View PostDivideByZero, on 16 July 2011 - 07:16 AM, said:

Java is very similar to C in terms of syntax, so don't worry you'll pick it up VERY quickly.


Not quite. There are three basic elements of a language. The syntax or grammar, the standard modules, and the paradigm.

C is an nice old school language, very simple, short, the essence of procedural. While it is that great progenitor of the curly brace grammar, there the similarity usually ends. C++ is in it's own category, multi-paradigm, kitchen sink, high and low level covorting a powerful stew of concepts. To really understand C++, you have to be familiar with a good number of those fundamental, sometimes oppositional, ideas.

Java, another curly brace, is draconian about it's vision of what Object Oriented means. If you treat the language like a procedural programmer, you loose. The paradigm, the idea, behind the language is not the same as C even a little.

You know Javascript? Curly brace. OO in an entirely different way. A prototyped language, nothing really to do with classes, more like a function cloning inheritance thing.

Then there's functional languages...

The point is, languages aren't that hard; you can get the grammar without much of a challenge. However, the concepts are what's important. You shouldn't try to apply methods from language A to language B, until you understand the best way to do the same thing in language B and why.

Can you learn four languages in eight months? It really depends on you. It's certainly possible. I feel you can be competent to write something in less than a week. Proficiency takes about a month. Knowing a language can take much longer. A lot of people seem to feel they "know" when they get slightly past competent. It really depends on your personal goal and how you judge yourself.
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#6 fart  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 16 July 2011 - 07:03 PM

Thanks for the quick and detailed responses! It is so reassuring to me that there is people out there waiting by the switch to give strangers insight.

Well, it sounds as though I will learn each language bit by bit :sweatdrop: . I know a good starting point for getting a good practical explanation of languages are the dummies books, but they can a be a little limiting in their scope (and don't often go into the nitty gritty of the language and what makes them truly unique. After finishing getting my head around C and learning about arduino and microprocessors and electronics, I will move on to Java while advancing my C knowledge, and then to MATLAB and Assembly after studying Maths next semester (so I am not too lost when it is explaining concepts to me).

I am not really aiming to be an expert in any one area any time soon, but I find that I can learn this stuff pretty quickly, maybe there is a book that helps people differentiate the languages in order to avoid confusion.

Again, thanks for your help.

- fart
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#7 karabasf  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 17 July 2011 - 03:58 AM

For Matlab, the undergraduates at my faculty use this book:

http://www.amazon.co...10900082&sr=8-3

It is quite reasonable to get a quick introduction in Matlab, it contains some assignments and examples and that's it.

If you want a more elaborate book about Matlab, I am using http://www.amazon.co...10900179&sr=1-1 for that purpose. I think if your faculty has excess to springerlink, you can download this book (well, at least each separate chapter of it).

And I guess you can always ask questions regarding Matlab on this forum ^^
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#8 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 18 July 2011 - 12:45 PM

Interesting that everyone picked up on the Matlab and the Java, but no mention of assembly, which seems to me the most alarming of the bunch.

I suspect that you're not going to be expected to show real expertise in any of these languages; instead, you want to shoot for familiarity. Basically, you want to know how to figure out how to solve a problem in each of the languages, not to become a rockstar in any of them. For example, in Java you're not going to worry too much about writing very intricate classes, you're probably going to be more of a consumer than a producer in that regard. I'd suggest you focus on learning the libraries and how to use them, and not so much on OO design principles. (this is the opposite of the advice I'd give you if you really wanted to learn the language deeply, but you want shallow and quick - you can go for deep later, if you want)
I haven't used Matlab, but from what I know of it, I expect that this is the one you'll use most - at least, it's the one that has the most application to generating the stuff an engineer needs immediately. I expect you'll want to know this pretty well on the first day.

As for assembly - well, it's a different world. Knowing C will help you a lot, and learning assembly will help you with C, but I find it pretty difficult to get my head around assembly language, as do most people.
Here's a trick: in the GCC, if you compile your C code with the -S flag, it'll give you assembly code as the output. This can help you understand some of the ways things are done. I found this was very useful for getting assembly code to examine.
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#9 J-e-L-L-o  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 18 July 2011 - 10:29 PM

you could easily learn more languages if you already know C. The trick with Matlab is that it is a language based on matrices.

maybe this could help:
http://www4.ncsu.edu...pers/matlab.pdf
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#10 fart  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 19 July 2011 - 12:54 AM

Wow! The plethora of responses! I have some java books now and will learn this semester with some microprocessor/electronics stuff for a major work idea 'i have which involves and electric positioning(reclining+footrest) and a separate interactive kiosk as a ticket terminal, potentially another one for the seat too to choose music for the seat, read news and order food, if C has no GUI capabilities (I am guessing that's where C++ came in?) and java offers it (with the added benefit of knowing it for the engineering next year and understanding android os), i guess it is my key code. I guess learning C was good for the microcontroller aspect (although I have heard assembly specific to the processor is more appropriate), and learning basic conventions.

My mind is now in active sponge mode. This community is great! Thanks again

- fart
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#11 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 19 July 2011 - 07:11 AM

Once you know one program language, you know them all. Or at least that's what they say. Java and C should come easily, and I heard MATLAB is just another dialect of C. Assembly is another beast, and it could be hard depending on how well you understand digital circuits and boolean algebra.
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#12 November-06  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 27 July 2011 - 05:29 AM

It wouldn't be too hard since the styles are so much alike. Just be careful not to mix up the syntax.

As for MATLAB, it will be very different from the others.

I had used it about thrice. You should only use it when it matters. If you are creating a mathematical program, you can create some dlls in MATLAB. I am not just sure if you should call it dll.

I am a .NET programmer but I have used C, Java, and MATLAB before.

Oh, yeah. You can graph with MATLAB too.

Are you trying to create a mathematics program that needs matrices or complex polynomial equations? The MATLAB is very useful for those. But if you do not need those complex equations, you should think twice before using it.

It is good to learn a lot but sometimes it is better to learn only those that you'll be needing.
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#13 fart  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 27 July 2011 - 07:43 PM

Well I finished reading the C programming text which was interesting, seems pretty simple, shame there is no simple GUI capabilities. Getting into Java, looks much easier, getting my head around the concept of classes, objects and methods. But it seems like once you write a bit of code, you can manipulate and reference it ad infinitum, which is awesome.

I guess I will be using MATLAB for a huge range of applications, even outside of what I am taught, like everything really.

Can anyone recommend good a good forum like this for electronics geeks?

- fart
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#14 Curtis Rutland  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 28 July 2011 - 12:15 PM

Quote

shame there is no simple GUI capabilities


You have to remember when (and for what) C was invented. It was made back before WIMP was even a thing, really. Read the Wiki article on C and I think you'll understand why there aren't any built in graphical libraries.
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#15 NeoTifa  Icon User is offline

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Re: Knowing 4 languages in 8 months?!

Posted 28 July 2011 - 12:23 PM

View Postfart, on 27 July 2011 - 10:43 PM, said:

Can anyone recommend good a good forum like this for electronics geeks?

- fart


There are plenty of us here. Depends on what you need help with, I can help you.
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