reading around computer science Watch

trance addict
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#1
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Basically in a few years time (if i get the grades etc) i'd like to apply to Cambridge/Imperial for computer science and since I have such a long holiday I thought it might be a good idea to start reading around the subject, due to medicine applicants doing work exp etc. However this got me thinking, there isn't really too much I can do for computer science?

What exactly should I start with/are there any books anyone can recommend that will help me get started. I was thinking of picking up on a few programming languages + reading some books on algorithm design and study some of the ways these are applied in various applications. Anyone recommend anything I could do to help my application for comp sci?
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Tipitman
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#2
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Learn some language, probs best to be java at the moment if not go for C. Also try get some work in your area, myself I have done work with web designers securing sites, and making promotional materials as well as general fix repair stuff.

Get too know your tutor who will write your referance and make yourself the first port of call for any PC repair they need. And don't be afraid to show off skills to them, wether theroy or otherwise.

Then when it comes to referance it will be glowing, apart from that good luck.
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trance addict
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Yeah i'm already learning C at the moment but I thought maybe I should touch on the more mathematical side of computer science such as algorithms etc.
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Tipitman
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You could do, it depends what you are into. I would look at an area of intrest, so programming, security, maths for compsci, networks. Don't really matter what it is just get really good at it.

The maths would set you out from crowd abit, tbf as long as its fairly technical don't matter what you learn.
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Supermerp
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#5
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Try reading The New Turing Omnibus. I heard about it from a weblog. It's got loads of random compsci **** in it (the weblog post tells you where you can read some sample pages).
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Scipio90
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http://www.cl.cam.ac.uk/admissions/u...practical_prep

Seems Cambridge advise against learning languages like C. Python would probably be better.
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DFranklin
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Note that the complaint is largely against learning C as a first language, however. Pretty much everyone coded much of their work in 'C/C++' when I was there (that was 20 years ago, however). I must say, my experience was also that most people had a lot more programming experience than that webpage would imply, though again, times may have changed.

Looking at the exam papers, it's interesting to see that ML still plays a role: it was the language used to "level the playing field" because no-one would ever have used anything like it. Of course, you needed to run it on the Uni mainframe back then - people were just starting to try to implement it on high-end PCs, but it didn't work very well.
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thomasjtl
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Tipitman- wtf? You seriously think that computer science has anything to do with repairing computers?

The turing omnibus is a good book, as is cormen's introduction to algorithms.
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alex_hk90
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I think someone's already linked to it but the Computer Science department at Cambridge gives some suggestions, and my friend who applied for Computer Science was asked to read some of The Pleasures of Counting as preparation for his interview.
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DFranklin
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#10
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Just remembered another site people might find interesting: http://projecteuler.net/

It's more fun/recreational than really serious stuff, and some problems require quite a bit of Maths knowledge. But it will give you some food for thought!
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Glutamic Acid
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Have a look at entering the British Informatics Olympiad next year.
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trance addict
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(Original post by Glutamic Acid)
Have a look at entering the British Informatics Olympiad next year.
Wow that looks interesting, always wanted to enter these subject competitions but never knew of any for computing. Also the college im going to next year had a finalist this year, so I guess they will support me entering this unlike my previous school who didn't even tell me about the national chemistry competition.. Thanks for the link
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Glutamic Acid
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(Original post by trance addict)
Wow that looks interesting, always wanted to enter these subject competitions but never knew of any for computing. Also the college im going to next year had a finalist this year, so I guess they will support me entering this unlike my previous school who didn't even tell me about the national chemistry competition.. Thanks for the link
No problem. It's quite fun, although I found the wording on one of the questions rather confusing.
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trance addict
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(Original post by Glutamic Acid)
No problem. It's quite fun, although I found the wording on one of the questions rather confusing.
One of those guys listed got a top 5 award at my college for computing last year, unfortuantly i dont think I can get a top 5 since we switched to WJEC :mad: Are you going to be entering?
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Glutamic Acid
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(Original post by trance addict)
One of those guys listed got a top 5 award at my college for computing last year, unfortuantly i dont think I can get a top 5 since we switched to WJEC :mad: Are you going to be entering?
Yep, probably. I don't expect to do very well, but I'll have a go.
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thomasjtl
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Tutors aren't likely to pay much attention to computing A level since the syllabus varies a lot from board to board and all generally have a more practical than mathematical bent to them. They certainly won't hold it against you, but will be a lot more interested in your mathematical abilities.
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trance addict
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(Original post by Glutamic Acid)
Yep, probably. I don't expect to do very well, but I'll have a go.
These problems are strange, the only ones ive seen that I could solve so far are the 2004 and 2008, are they just supposed to click straight away or not?

Also yeah thomas, I just want to beat that guy for personal satisfaction more than anything Cambridge have said they'd prefer further maths AS more than A2 computing, but its only 4 units with 2 being programming so I thought why not take it. Also I know Imperial give out computing offers something like : AAA maths physics computing
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pyrolol
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ML type languages are awesome. C(++) is not something you should touch till you have a good idea of what a well structured OO program should be like (bad, bad habits are easy to acquire), and even then it must be looked at with caution. The BIO is fun, although it's C/Pascal (urgh) only iirc?
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Gimperial
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Forget C.

Get the "Thinking python", excellent guide to programming with some interesting excerices.

Learning assembler will teach you far more about how computers work than any other language.
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trance addict
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#20
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C++ was really odd, I didn't like the syntax of it at all. I was thinking of python but can't seem to find many books on it, but i'll check that one out that you recommended to me Gimperial.
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