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I apologize I posted one before finding this area and this is where I should have origonally posted.

I have become quite interested in three areas for an eventual masters degree, however with out a large amount of information it would be stupid for me to make any decision. Any help at all is greatly appreciated and I am asking for

  • Projects that involve one of the following areas
  • Career opportunities
  • average pay of specific computer science fields
  • colleges that excel in these fields (US specifically but global is okay)
  • common programming languages used for each field

HCI
(Human-computer interaction) I would like to know projects and when it is used mostly on this (I know game interfaces is part of this but I am looking for areas outside of computers more towards appliances etc).

Robotics/AI
I am interested in applied AI for robotics more then design/theory of AI itself, if anyone can help in any such area for this other then programming languages you would be helping a huge amount.

Scientific computing
Bioinformatics, Cognitive Science, Computation Neuroscience, Computation physics, all seem interesting and I know how they are used but colleges is an important part for this, as well I have heard that some of these are plateaued and I am interested if this is true, if the pay is better then average (average here for stating is 60-70k for a undergrad) and any independent projects.


If you know any forums that specify in these areas that would greatly help as well, and if you know any other big programming forums I could ask that would help a huge amount too. Any help is greatly appreciated.

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Last Post by Rich_121
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Take undergrad classes in the subjects to figure out what you're interested in.

common programming languages used for each field

It should be easy to pick up whatever programming languages you need when you get to them.

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Umm well that does show a problem. I can take 1 HCI undergrad class which I intend on taking this upcoming year and a few robotics/AI courses. But Scientific Computing isn't a undergrad area and only offered for graduates. Other problem is that here in the US you pretty much have to apply to a Grad program after/during your first quarter of your senior year which happens to be this quarter. Since none of these are happening it makes it a bit harder to do that. I could always wait a year but then I am wasting an entire year.
Yeah but the question was what languages I know I can pick them up....

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well, that's good advice for me, all of those fields have undergraduate classes at my school, so, i will just take some of them while working towards a computer science degree

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> Career opportunities
Hard to pin down now, nevermind in several years time when you graduate.

> average pay of specific computer science fields
Again, depends where you are and what's flavour of the month when you need to start looking. What's hot today could be well out of date by the time you get to it.
Besides, you should go for what interests you, not what pays a few K more. Once your basic needs are satisfied, then job satisfaction counts for a hell of a lot.

> common programming languages used for each field
Yet another moving feast.
Find a college which at least has a course on software engineering. A short course in "language X" ain't worth squat IMO. It just churns out "hello world" programmers by the 1000's. The real skill is knowing what to do when confronted by a task which will take 10's of thousands of lines of code (and up into the millions). If you don't know how to solve that kind of task, then it really doesn't matter how well you can recite code fragments.
The thing of it is, when you get to those kinds of programs, there is a lot of work which isn't actually programming.

Also, the actual detail of your degree (and the final year project you did) only matters for your first job. After that, your degree is just a tick box.
"Do you have a degree, yes, tick the box, next question".
Certainly past your second job, prospective employers are only interested in your past work experience.

If you're lucky, your 3 year degree will last you the 40 to 50 years of your working life. Choose things which will prepare you for the long haul, not necessarily things which are hot at the moment.

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Good advice all of it :)
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A lot of your answers seemed to be aimed towards someone that isn't in college. I am asking towards graduate school, pays -> average every year each industry has an average pay amount, computer science in Washington is around 60-65k starting I was wondering if a graduate degree (masters) on average pays higher, the only thing I have been told is that you start 20% higher generally.
As well I know that each college does that type of stuff, I was asking for the most common programming languages. Such as AI you do prolog a lot.
But I don't know anyone doing a CSS degree with 3 years I did mine in "4" (2 high school, 2 college) but that is beside the point.
I guess my question has changed it appears that HCI is mainly theory and the ways to program an interface better. I would like to know in AI/Robotics how easily you can program in languages like Java and combine it with Prolog and Lisp, or do you program everything in those languages? As well does anyone have some good websites or something for starting AI/Robotics? And colleges that work towards it, I am pretty interesting in computer vision and computer linguistics (programs understanding user speech). Colleges that major in these areas for a master program would be great help.
And if there are any websites that assist with normal knowledge of scientific computing. (Other then wiki)

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I can offer some insight into bioinformatics/computational biology. (I'm a university academic in these areas, coming from the computer side of things).

Above all, try things out as much as you can! There's no substitute for getting a 'feel' for a given subject. And the grad school level is a great time to do it.

I would suggest also looking to get into an area where there are lots of exciting things happening (and promising to happen over the next decade). Bioinformatics and systems biology certainly count, because there are so many complex data-sets beign generated right now.

This also highlights an important point. Does handling scientific data appeal to you? If so, then maybe try out some of the areas where there are people who need help with their data (eg. bioinformatics). If you're not so sure about that, then areas of research like AI or computer vision (based in a computer science department) may be more to your liking.

I hope this helps! Above all, try some stuff out and see what grabs you :-)

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Great help thank you.
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Thank you, I was actually quite interested in Bioinformatics, the problem is that class is only offered at the graduate level, I am hoping the professor will allow me to enter the class because the idea of doing science related information does seem very enjoyable however I was horrible in Biology. The idea of processing the data appears fun, it would be a area where you would learn not just technology but biology as well (or so it seems). May I ask what you learn through it, I have heard that the reason this type of major exists is because the data being collected is so large that it must be dealt with differently. Is the major study data structures or what?
Your also helped me in an important area of will Scientific Computing be big because earlier this month I had heard things like gene processing and a large part of Scientific Computing had plateaued, however in the last 3 days I have heard 2 times prior to you they will be big in the next decade and you are the first "personal poster" to do so. What was your back ground?
I am thinking AI/Robotics will be a large in the next few decades and it would be a fun specialty. Where is the major part of Bioinformatics being done as well? As well what college are you going to? CMU seems like a good one and I am looking for a "top 20" graduate school as long shot as that may be.

Thank you again.

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May I ask what you learn through it, I have heard that the reason this type of major exists is because the data being collected is so large that it must be dealt with differently. Is the major study data structures or what?

This is a major consideration, yes. The data are getting very large (gigabyte scale and growing), plus the biological systems they describe are inherently very complicated, which means real challenges for modelling the data (to understand what's actually going on). For example, an organism might have 20-30,000 genes, all of which might be interacting with a number other genes and in ways that depend on any number of factors (environment, age, disease...the list goes on).

I had heard things like gene processing and a large part of Scientific Computing had plateaued, however in the last 3 days I have heard 2 times prior to you they will be big in the next decade

I don't think bioinformatics/system biology have plateaued, in terms of scientific computing (quite the opposite!). There are loads of unsolved problems that it would be useful to solve. (although it depends on which area in particular that you're talking about). A big interest of mine is developing new statistical methods; this is definitely a huge growth area (and ties in closely to AI, machine learning and things like that.

What was your back ground?

Statistical astrophysics (!).

I'm a theoretical physicist, originally. My interests are mainly in statistical inference, computer science and scientific computing, so I've moved over to things like bioinformatics in the last few years.

Where is the major part of Bioinformatics being done as well? As well what college are you going to?

I'm based in the UK, so maybe not much help.

Bioinformatics (and system biology, which is related) is becoming a hot topic in universities. I don't know the major US centres, but I suggest you do a Google search for universities that have started specific centres for this sort of work. This will be a great indicator that they're very serious about it as a subject. Maybe also look for bioinformatics groups in computer science departments.

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