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Comment: Algorithms, data structures, systems (Score 2, Informative) 396

by ColonelPanic (#31199572) Attached to: What Knowledge Gaps Do Self-Taught Programmers Generally Have?

If you know your algorithms and data structures, and have a firm grasp of the architecture of modern computer systems, you'll be way ahead of a depressingly large proportion of people with degrees in CS that come past me in interviews.

The most informative and entertaining book I can recommend on algorithms is Bentley's "Programming Pearls".

Comment: Re:Think you understand these things? Try this... (Score 1) 365

by ColonelPanic (#28782931) Attached to: Visualizing False Positives In Broad Screening

Okay, if you don't get the problem (and yes it is correctly stated), there are three things you can do to improve your understanding.

1) Write a simple computer program in your language of choice to generate a billion random two-children families and count the ones that meet the conditions.
2) Draw a Venn diagram.
3) Read up on Bayes' theorem.

Comment: Think you understand these things? Try this... (Score 1) 365

by ColonelPanic (#28781629) Attached to: Visualizing False Positives In Broad Screening

A family with two children is chosen at random from a large population.

If I tell you only that they have at least one daughter, what is the probability that both children are girls?

Most people can get that one (it's 1/3), but fail miserably on this question:

If I tell you only that they have at least one child named Mary, what is the probability that both children are girls?

Assume the obvious: the boy/girl ratio is 50-50 and only girls are named Mary.

Most people insist that this is the same question with the same answer, but no, it's not, and the answer is actually 50%.

If you don't get this puzzle, you don't understand conditional probability.

Cobol programmers are down in the dumps.

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