Mar 31, 2009

Advice to young programmers - Alex Stepenov (Principal Scientist, Adobe Systems)

Following is the summary of speech given by Alex Stepenov (Principal Scientist, Adobe Systems) at Adobe India on 30 Nov 2004.

Study , Study and Study
Never ever think that you have acquired all or most of the knowledge which exists in the world. Almost everybody in US at age of 14 and everybody in India at age of 24 starts thinking that he has acquired all the wisdom and knowledge that he needs. This should be strictly avoided.

You should be habituated to studies...exactly in the same way as you are habituated to brushing teeth and taking bath every morning. The habit of study must become a ‘part of your blood’. And the study should be from both the areas: CS, since it is your profession, and something from non-CS...Something which does not relate to your work. This would expand your knowledge in other field too. A regular study, everyday, is extremely essential. It does not matter whether you study of 20 minutes of 2 hours, but consistency is a must.

You should always study basics and fundamentals. There is no point in going for advanced topics. When I was at the age of 24, I wanted to do PhD in program verification, though I was not able to understand anything from that. The basic reason was that my fundamental concepts were not clear. Studying 'Algebraic Geometry’ is useless if you do not understand basics in Algebra and Geometry. Also, you should always go back and reread and re-iterate over the fundamental concepts.
What is the exact definition of ‘fundamental’? The stuff which is around for a while and which forms basic part of the concepts can be regarded as more fundamental. Of course, everybody understands what a fundamental means.

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