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Comment It's at least as much about understanding (Score 1) 1086

When I'm working with someone who's designed a horrible database system and they can't grasp the concept of exponential increases in difficulty (and therefore search time), it's a problem. I myself have implemented PID controller loops in systems I've developed. I may not have needed 3 years worth of calculus to do it, but I at least had to understand what I was doing and the significance of errors rather than blindly guessing why I didn't have it "right". Most common example of a PID controller people have seen is cruise control in a car. It's not as simple as "if speed preset, press gas harder, else ease off". Now, that said...where I went, you didn't need any truly hardcore math to get a CS degree...a basic calc class and discrete were about it.
Hardware Hacking

Grad Student Invents Cheap Laser Cutter 137

An anonymous reader writes "Peter Jansen, a PhD student and member of the RepRap community, has constructed a working prototype of an inexpensive table-top laser cutter built out of old CD/DVD drives as an offshoot of his efforts to design an under $200 open-source Selective Laser Sintering (SLS) 3D printer. Where traditional laser cutters use powerful, fixed-focus beams, this new technique dynamically adjusts the focal point of the laser using a reciprocating motion similar to a reciprocating saw, allowing a far less powerful and inexpensive laser diode to be used. The technique is currently limited to cutting black materials to a depth of only a few millimeters, but should still be useful and enabling for Makers and other crafters. The end-goal is to create a hybrid inexpensive 3D printer that can be easily reconfigured for 2D laser cutting, providing powerful making tools to the desktop."

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