Understanding CompSci: Learning a new language

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A lot of times, new computer science students want to know what programming languages they can expect to use in their classes.  Java? C++?  Python?  People can tend to feel like there must be some single language they must know in order to learn computer science and make it in industry.  Many young programmers believe that computer science is about knowing programming languages expertly, being able to churn out code without having to look up syntax or paradigms because they remember a language so thoroughly.

In actuality, there are many languages, and over the course of a career, a computer scientist will have use a wide range of diverse languages.  Every language was developed to solve a particular problem: PHP is to handle queries on a web server, Java to automatically handle memory management, Python to offer rapid prototyping, etc.

Each language is like a tool in a programmer’s utility belt.  There may be more than one tool for  the job, but often times there is one that does the job better.  Don’t use a flathead screwdriver on a Philips head if you have a the Philips screw driver too!

Once you learn the theoretical foundations of computer science and grasp one language, learning another one is simpler than it may seem.  The syntax may be a little confusing at first, but the Internet is full of tons of references for every programming language imaginable.  Programmers are the ones who make websites, after all!


Getting a programming language under your fingers is as easy as practicing.  A lot of people will have small side projects such as apps, scripts, or personal websites they develop merely to practice and learn.  Doing these kinds of things are smiled upon by employers, and you will thank yourself!



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