Wednesday, February 13, 2008

My Programming Journey so Far

One of the great things about working in computer science is that you never stop leaning. It seems that many programmer follow a progression from one popular language to the next, and I thought I'd dedicate a post to reminisce about my journey so far. I first learned to program in C. This was at the age of sometime around eleven or thirteen. I was instantly hooked, and since then, I've kept right on learning. I think the path I've taken has been fairly typical. From C, I learned C++ (starting in high school). I learned Java during a summer internship after my junior year of high school. In college, it was more C++, Java, and C (I really learned the ins and outs of C in my networking class) along with some other programming languages.

My favorite two classes in my college computer science curriculum were the ones in which I learned assembly language and designed an arithmetic logic unit and then a simple processor. I finally felt like I understood exactly how computers worked. With assembly language I learned a bit about machine code, how many clock cycles specific operations take, and it felt so good to optimize a bit of code to run blazingly fast. In circuit design I learned where those clock cycles come from, why operations take the time they do, and how those machine language op codes are determined. In all things software, at some point it all comes back to electronics.

College was also a time to get a taste of other, less widely used, but none-the-less important languages. Scheme and Prolog were particularly interesting to me, but I haven't had much occasion to use them very much recently.

Through my career, I've focused primarily on C++, then Java. After that I've had the opportunity to use a large number of languages. I learned Ajax programming using JavaScript, I wrote some PHP, C#, and a rather large amount of Python. Outside of work, I like to explore new concepts and languages and I've taken a look at some other languages too. Some notable examples include Ruby and Common Lisp, but I haven't built anything serious with them yet. Python is a language which I've really grabbed hold of recently and I've been learning quite a bit about it. At least half of the side projects I'm working on in my spare time these days are in Python. There seems to be quite a bit of momentum behind Python, and I'm very interested to see where this all goes.

So there you have it, a small glimpse into my journey thus far. How does it jive or differ from your own?
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