Thursday, October 14, 2004

This is year 2046. Two computer science professors at MIT is chatting.

Young Prof A: The standard of students is really too bad. Today I see a grad student from Hong Kong. He said he's never heard of the principle of inclusion-exclusion.

Old Prof B: This is not too bad. You don't know the effort required to clear their wrong understanding about the congruence modulo symbol in my cryptography class.

A: Worst still, he doesn't know what are floors and ceilings!

B: This happens all the time. Some 40 years ago I met a grad student from Hong Kong. He complained exactly the same thing you just said, and mentioned the interesting thing that students can do dynamic programming of matrix chain multiplication without knowing how to multiply two matrices together.

A: Oh really?

B: He also regretted that his teachers didn't teach enough basic stuff, like elementary graph algorithms, generating functions, pumping lemma, and so on.

A: Er - sorry - did you say "pumping lemma"? What's it?


Anonymous said...

The department does not offer formal courses such as automata, language, complexity, etc.
I have to read DFA, NFA, Regular language myself. I wonder if I will read PDA, CFG and TM someday (it is not easy for self reading).

your Math fans :)

spyfung said...

Oh, fans? Do I need a fan club? It would be better if you could leave some hints on who you are...

In fact, it's reasonable that they don't offer formal theory courses, since it is useless and there are far too many other things to teach. But whenever I read some theory stuff myself, I immediately forget them the next day. Seems I'll never learn them...