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Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?

Posted by JohanB 
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Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 28, 2006 05:11PM
Best fellow students,

I have begun with the scientific computing stream, and am almost finished with the first year. I am, however, beginning to wonder whether I should not have taken the software engineering stream in stead.

I enjoy math, and the company that I work for presently does some math-intensive work. On the other hand, I am afraid that the scientific computing stream is too academic, and the software engineering stream will make me more employable in the future.

I would greatly appreciate it if you could provide me with some feedback.

Also, how much work is involved in subjects like INF1059 and INF1208? I will need to do them extra if I do switch over.

Looking forward to your insights,
JB
Anonymous User
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 28, 2006 06:05PM
I did software engineering stream. I don't know how much difference there is. I have found though in my 4 years of working in IT that what I have seems adequate and that there has so far been no major need for more than just normal maths knowledge.

Perhaps the stream you are doing is very mathematical but at the end of the day most companies probably just see you have a degree with computer science....

inf1059 and inf1208 - lots of reading, most of it common sense. not too much work if you just want a pass or 60%. If you are looking for a distinction then I guess a little more work is involved smiling smiley
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 28, 2006 07:28PM
I'm also thinking of going over to the straight software engineering stream. I'm currently doing the Decission modelling and computing stream, but it's just not what I envisaged. Thought it would be more of computer programming manegerial stuff, but from what I see (which is just OPS101G and OPS102H) it's really all about operational research.

Can anyone shed som light on this stream? What's it about later on?

-Valkeye
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 08:54AM
You should be careful when choosing the stream that you want to follow. If I remember correctly your majors are different depending on the stream. I chose software engineering because you major in both cos and inf. As for operational research, I have a friend who dropped it as a major bacause the third level modules bordered on acturial science. I'm not saying that its not doable but it requires a lot of additional work from your side.

Navin
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 09:03AM
OK. Excuse my ignorance, but what are these so called majors? Everybody always speaks about them, but I have no idea what they are.

All I see is a list of 30 modules that I need to complete, that's it! I have no idea what these majors are.

But from my side I love programming, but I want to be more than just a developer getting paid R7000 a month when i'm 30. That's why I opted for the Decision modelling stream. I thought that it would give me programming ability but train to be more in a manegerial position. Although from what i see so far, which isn't very much, the course really isn't about programming at all.

-Valkeye
Anonymous User
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 10:37AM
developers get paid R7000 a month when they are 30??? ouch. glad I am not a developer... but wait.. I am. seriously, if you are going to be paid that little get another job at another company!

Majors are the "main" subjects you take. At unisa its a bit confusing because everything is broken into modules. But maybe see anything with COS infront as 1 main subject (split into many manageable modules). So then in 1st year you would take COS 1, INF 1 and then MAT 1 and a few other little subjects, then in 2nd year you do COS2 , INF 2 , 3rd year is COS3 and INF3. Those are your majors. If however you start doing other subjects - the philosophy ones, then one of your majors would be philosophy.
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 11:10AM
Aahh... I see.. smiling smiley

Cool. Yeah... I'm pretty sure i'm gonna go into the Software Engineering stream.. One question though. Throughout the degree do you stick with C++ or do we jump from language to language?

I must admit, I'm kinda keen to stick with C++.

-Valkeye
Anonymous User
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 11:55AM
Hi, when I started we were still doing pascal, then they moved c++ earlier (instead of just at 3rd year). Then in my second year (with c++) we were told that they were phasing c++ out and that by 2005 the 2nd year language would be java. so from what I can now see its c++ in first year, java in second year and then back to c++ in 3rd year for graphics and corba. Oh.. and there is delphi floating around in there somewhere as well - first year.
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 11:58AM
Most of the modules are in C++. Some modules are other languages like: COS114 is in Delphi, COS214 is in JAVA.
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 12:00PM
grinning smiley
I think me and celene posted our messages at the same time...(I did not want to repeat what she said)
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 12:27PM
Cool. Well I hope for as much C++ as possible. Although doing Java would make the degree a lot easier (having studied Java already).

Don't most people prefer to pick a language and just stick with it?

I would have thought that would be the best idea. Then you actually know and understand a language well.

-Valkeye
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 12:59PM
I have to agree with you...I like C++, and java. But I don't realy like Delphi. (althou Delphi is easier than C++, and JAVA IMO)
Anonymous User
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 01:07PM
I think languages in the industry change too much and too quickly - so universities have to keep up with the trends or else have a bunch of people with useless qualification graduating. I won't be surprised if c# or .NET aren't introduced somewhere along the line. And datawarehousing etc.
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 01:20PM
True, I understand why universities do it.. They've got to provide graduates with the best platform for life as possible. And by only teaching us 1 language they are really limiting us. So I understand that... But for someone who knows what language they want, and really wants to master that language, it can be a bit frustrating coding "Hello Wrold" projects in 6 different languages.

-Valkeye
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 02:15PM
Thanks everybody for your inputs.

I think what I'll do is change to software engineering, and maybe do an extra major when I finish with that.

I'll do the extra first year modules next year, together with some 2nd year modules that are common to both streams, perhaps.

Does anybody know how the honours courses are different between these two streams? Just out of interest's sake - I still have waaay to far to go for me to get exited about honours stuff...

Regards,
JB
Anonymous User
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 02:24PM
honours - doing it - just chose modules that seemed interesting and that were available - big hassle with available modules. I thin kthere are 4 main streams in honours - but I am just going for the main computer science one with a few inf subjects in to make up 10 modules *shrug*
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 03:30PM
I'm glad to see that everyone's very for the Software Engineering Stream. When I selected software engineering I did it based on the (incomplete) documentation I had on hand, and hoped for the best. Now it seems I made the right call grinning smiley
Mel
Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 04:22PM
I decided on the IT management stream as I didn't want to get too niched. But a lot of the subjects are very similar, and I think the added management subjects are an advantage!
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 29, 2006 06:04PM
When you strip the languages down to the core, all the 3rd generation languages are more or less the same. All of them have the same constructs (functions, while, do-while, for, if, case-selection, etc). It doesn't take long to learn the new syntax of a differenct language.

As a consequence, you should be able to work out the algorithm to a solution and translate it into any language you know. The biggest difference between the languages is not the languages themselves but rather the class libraries that come with the languages.

C++ doesn't really have a big class library other than the STL - which focuses on common internat processing and very little input/output. Delphi, Java, Visual Basic and C# all have huge class libraries attached and it takes quite a bit of studying to figure out what's available and how to use them.

In the end, the language you use is usually the last thing you think about when working out a software solution, although each have their strengths and weaknesses.

All that said, I still like C++. The only thing that it doesn't have that some other languages have are Property Functions ( Property Get and Property Set). No other language has templates or operator overloading and I think C# is the only other language that uses function pointers. One of the main reasons I dislike Delphi and Basic is that you can't overload functions.
avatar Re: Software Engineering vs. Scientific Computing?
June 30, 2006 11:57AM
A bit of late input:
I am not doing any specific B.Sc stream and have "built up" my subjects from the recommended and required list.
I have found the INF subjects much better to understand due to my work experience, I hate the Maths subjects disguised in the COS subjects and sort of enjoy programming in C++. ASM (COS221) is a pain and Delphi (COS114) a joy (are programming in that at work).
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