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Comment von Neumann probes (Score 4, Insightful) 391

A real head-scratching conundrum about the universe is explaining why it's not already overrun with self-replicating robots. Because if it's possible to send self-replicating interstellar probes, all it takes is one launch, plus a few million years, to get the galaxy overrun with them. So are they not possible? nobody's launched one yet? here, but not detected? The implications boggle the mind.

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

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".

"Consider a spherical bear, in simple harmonic motion..." -- Professor in the UCB physics department