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#1 john14ty66  Icon User is offline

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Should I take compilers?

Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:17 PM

So, I'm a CS major, and things like artificial intelligence, machine learning, and databases interest me. However, I'm not sure if I should take compilers down the road. Compilers don't really seem to interest me that much at the moment, but it seems like most CS students at my college end up taking compilers. So, I'm not sure if compilers is some foundational course. I want to go to grad school for CS, and I'm not sure if it's a foundational course that I need to take before grad school. Any experience or suggestions?

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#2 modi123_1  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:26 PM

Have you asked your counselor? Without knowing your specific curriculum it is hard to tell if it is a requirement course or not. Though it couldn't hurt to know what that big dumb ox of a program called 'compiler' is doing under the hood.
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#3 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 11 May 2012 - 01:37 PM

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So, I'm not sure if compilers is some foundational course.


Yes, it is. Take the class.

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 11 May 2012 - 01:38 PM

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#4 andycb  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:42 PM

I'm currently procrastinating on my compilers course work right this second.. I can tell you it's a dull course.

Take the modules your interested in and enjoy, at the end of the day you will graduate with a CS degree. If you enjoy the module you will do better in it and so your score will be higher (I'm guessing your in the US so I'm not sure what grade system you have). It doesn't matter what modules you take, it doesn't effect the degree, but getting good grades in those modules will.....

Above all, compilers are boring.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 08:48 PM

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Above all, compilers are boring.


Pay him no mind, he's completely mental, or maybe he has a lousy professor.
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#6 john14ty66  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:02 PM

why do you think I should take compilers, jon?
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#7 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:34 PM

Couple of reasons. First of all, if you want to understand the code you're generating, and you're writing to a compiled language, being able to think like the compiler helps a lot.
Second, the theory that you'll learn will help you understand language design, which will be useful.
Third, it's typically an intensive course that involves a heavy programming emphasis: you write a compiler, or at least large portions of one. When you're in school, this is something you should not turn down. Class assignments are good, and you should take them seriously, but classes that offer extensive and extended projects are excellent experience. You'll know a lot more about writing programs after any such class than you do before going into it. Fourthly, this is good resume material. Any serious programmer knows what's involved in a real compilers course, and if you've done this, they like you a little better. They know you understand the machine a little better, and they know you can take on a serious programming project and come out the other end with something. It's not slam-dunk, "oh, he's taken compilers" reaction, but it's a plus.

Nextly, a negative reason: if you don't enjoy engaging with an extended project of this sort, and you don't enjoy the theory of it, that's two very strong indicators that you don't actually like programming. The class combines two important aspects of the programming life, which some people see as opposed and sensible people see as conjoined: theory and practice. If you take this course from a competent teacher and you don't enjoy it, you probably don't want to be a programmer, because you either don't like writing programs, or you don't like understanding computers, or both.
If this is the case, it's a very good thing to learn before you commit any further to the field. There's plenty of time to become an accountant or something. In this case, the course will tell you perhaps the most useful thing you could possibly learn right now.

Lastly, it's just a hell of a lot of fun. You're engaging with real and deep problems that will work your brain in really cool ways, and you'll feel yourself getting smarter as you do it.
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#8 john14ty66  Icon User is offline

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:40 PM

thanks for the input! Compilers seems like a more interesting class now!
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#9 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is online

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Re: Should I take compilers?

Posted 14 May 2012 - 09:45 PM

Well, I enjoyed it anyway. :)
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