Friday, February 23, 2007

More on the trouble with CS education

The title links to a Stanford press release in which Prof. Eric Roberts indicates that the problem underlying the current decline in CS enrollment lies with CS education. I agree with this: introductory CS classes, for instance, are probably the most in-your-face, student-unfriendly courses at a university. The article goes on, however, to say:

Universities also struggle with attracting enough computer science educators. 'In the '80s boom, there was one year in which there was one applicant for every seven open [teaching] positions, which means that six of the positions just did not get filled,' says Roberts. Today, there are more applicants than openings, but the ratio—hovering at around two to one—still stands in stark contrast to that in most humanities departments, where hundreds of applicants compete for one faculty job opening.

'I used to argue that Ph.D.s in computer science probably lowered your salary, because they opened lower paying jobs [in academia],' Roberts half jokes. 'There's an economic incentive not to teach but to go off and make your killing in the field.'

So, on the one hand, CS faculty are paid too little compared to industry. I'm happy to agree with someone who says I'm underpaid. On the other hand, there are not enough people trying to get faculty positions (two per job opening). Presumably, he wants more applicants and higher pay, not realizing that these are diametrically opposed goals. The reason pay is low is because there are more applicants than positions. If the number of applicants rose to the same level as in the humanities, then pay would fall to the level of that for humanities faculty.

Oh, well, Eric, thanks for playing anyway. We have an assortment of lovely virtual prizes for you to take home.

Saturday, February 10, 2007

Bad news and good news

Well, I guess I wouldn't call it good news; just perhaps the cessation of worsening news. Interest in majoring in computer science among freshmen is down 70% from its peak in 1999 and 2000. That's the bad news. The lack of worse news is that it was the same in 2006 as in 2005, so perhaps it is bottoming out. If you follow the link from the title, you'll see that this is the second such recorded cycle in CS interest. We're lower than the last trough, but from what I can recall of the mid-'80s, the job climate is better now.

Friday, February 09, 2007

Math Education: A University View

Following up on a previous post, there's a new video about "reformed math" by Clifford Mass, a UW Seattle professor of Atmospheric Science. He doesn't say anything that most other university faculty would say: our K-12 math education system is failing our students, as they discover when they reach college. Unfortunately, that's a bit late.

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Thursday, February 08, 2007

My Mathematics Genealogy

Follow the link above; unfortunately, my advisors and myself are not close enough to being mathematicians to produce a very full genealogy.

Tuesday, February 06, 2007

UCLA identity theft

As a UCLA alumnus, I was not happy to hear that a database containing personal information of alumni, students, and employees was penetrated by a cracker recently. I didn't hear about this from UCLA (presumably, they are still sending out letters to the 800,000 affected people) but rather from Oscar Boykin, a fellow alumnus at the University of Florida. If you're a UCLA alum, ex-employee, etc., follow the link from the title to learn more about this and find out if you need to place a fraud alert on your credit report. My question: is there any reason that everyone shouldn't put fraud alerts on their credit reports all the time?