Thursday, April 21, 2005

What about Mathematics.

What about Mathematics - do you think your College years have shaped your mind, and so influenced your way of thinking about and approaching Oracle (or life in general) - or not ?

Do you think you would have been a radically different Tom without your education?


Let me address this in reverse. Would I have been a radically different Tom? No, I don't think so. I might not have had the same opportunities that I had, but I would not have been radically different as a person.

I owe much of what I am technically to a guy named Woody Lons. I answered an ad in the Washington Post posted by GRC (small company that no longer exists in Vienna Virginia) for "PL/I programmers wanted, no experience necessary". I absolutely qualified for that. On the same day I interviewed with GRC, I did an interview with another small company -- Quantum Computer Services, in Tysons Corner Virginia, not far away from GRC. (I remember eating at Wendy's in between, it was a really hot day out). With my BA in Math from the University of Pittsburgh - I had two job offers:

a) GRC. They wanted programmers writing PL/I on an IBM mainframe.
b) Quantum Computer Services. They were looking for help desk analysts for a consumer dial up startup.

The year was 1987. I of course took the cooler of two jobs and became a programmer/analyst (I had no idea what that meant, I had not touched a computer really in college, it was all proofs and theorems).

Well, google quantum computer services, go ahead, oh never mind go here instead. Now ask me if I made the right choice! Hind sight, no big deal. I could be retired

So, I took this job with a bunch of people that were beyond belief (in a good way). I was teamed with a guy Woody - he was about the age I am now as I write this. He taught me lots of stuff - he was my mentor. He taught me how to write code that was understandable, maintainable, debuggable, traceable, self diagnosing. He taught me to think before coding. He taught me to test test test and never say anything "was true" without testing and showing it. He taught me more than any school could have. He taught me how to do this computer stuff "right". I still to this day do the things he taught me almost 20 years ago now.

I could have been teamed with him out of high school and still be most of what I am now, that I firmly believe. Do not believe that a college or advanced degree means someone is better than someone without, it gives them an advantage, especially in the beginning but doesn't mean they are necessarily better. For many, the relevance of a person is in what they can do, not what school they went to a decade ago. They have either been successful, or not. On their own. Period. I especially respect people that are successful - without the initial silver spoon. They had to work harder to get where they are.

Now, did the math degree help me? Probably yes. It gave me a good foundation in what I do now - but that was ingrained in me over and over by Woody. Test, Trace, Prove, back it up, don't make it up. Do it right - you will be in a room with 20 of your peers and they are going to rip your algorithms/code apart. Back in the day of code reviews - )does anyone do those anymore?) those were scary events. Making transparencies for the overhead projector with psuedo code - a room with lots of other programmer/analysts who had been doing this for a lot longer then you - reading it all as you explained your approach to a problem. That is fear, real fear, sick to stomach fear. Criticism abounded, it was expected, it was not only allowed - it was demanded. You were expected to justify what you proposed. You could not just "say stuff". And, if you sat through a code review and just nodded your head, you were not doing your job.

I have "observed" (slipping totally into opinion) that some of the best programmers are math, engineering and history majors. Totally an opinion and observation. It might be the training in critical thinking and "analyze" mind set.

Did the college years shape my life? Sure, but only thru coincidence, because of who I met and made friends with. I met my wife of almost 18 years there when I was a junior. I learned to work 30-40 hours a week and do the school thing at the same time from the time I was a freshman. I was a first a cook and then a manager in the student union restaurant. I opened it at 6:00am (it opened at 6:30, but lots to be done to open). I worked lunch rush. I closed it at night at 7:00pm. Scheduled classes around that. Cut loose on the weekends, except during football/basketball season. I worked the games cooking or delivering food. Guess the weekends were mostly shot too :). It sounds bad but I look back on it with good memories. Made friends there that I have to this day, most from the restaurant.

So, it was just one of many experiences that brought me here. I had no formal training in databases in school, but I read the books, a deep book that made me see the light is on my links I like page, the book on transaction processing. The chapter on two phase commit (in the release I had) compared it to a wedding with the minister being the commit point. "do you take this man" (vote to commit) - yes, then PREPARE to commit, "do you take this woman" (vote to commit) - yes, then PREPARE to commit. "Anyone out there have a good reason not to do this?" -- no, then "I pronounce you man and wife" - transaction is committed. I got it! I had mentors. I listened to people. I learned from them. They made me what I am now.

School - it was important, but if you didn't have a chance to do it (it could be hard, not everyone can get there for various reasons), so be it. The school of experience is more than enough for me.

People are who they are. Especially after many years in the business. A good suit and piece of paper from years ago won't make you any smarter than you are today. I judge people on their work and contributions more than anything else.
POST A COMMENT

42 Comments:

Blogger Pete_S said....

Well said!
I was fortunate and went to a 'good' university here in the UK, met lots of good people there but more than a few people that I would not even employ to cut my grass. As one of my first managers said 'Heads-up consultants, but heads up where?' My strategy when recruiting is to ignore the 'paper' but look at the guy's capabilities and they approach take to answer my qustions.

Not done a formal code review for about 5 years now - perhaps IT teams are getting too lean to find peers that are not too close to the code.

Thu Apr 21, 07:02:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous tbotev said....

I fully agree with your thoughts about the college degree - it's not that important as we are used to think. But the facts are we live in a society that values such papers like college diplomas (even papers like Oracle certificates but that's another topic :).

If one goes to a job interview and had the great chance to have in front an interviewer named Tom Kyte, then the skills are what matters. But the facts are you just can't get to the most interviews if you don't have the degree - it's mentioned in the job offer already.

That's why most of us go the way through the college I think. Many of us even get Oracle (or other) certificates.

Thu Apr 21, 07:22:00 AM EDT  

Blogger melanie caffrey said....

I agree. Very well said! I too, worked my way through college. I think it builds character.

The very first manager I worked for was also an incredible mentor. NOTHING ever went into production without a code review. (And you're absolutely right about the terror that goes with it.)

Also, weekly, we had a team meeting where one of us was always required to present something we discovered that was "technically new" (at least, technically new, to *us*, that is). It really engendered a love of research and knowledge sharing among us.

After leaving that job, I discovered code reviews were rare indeed. As were any sort of technical presentations.

I was introduced to groups of people whose sole job it was to debug other people's code. Ugh! I can't think of anything more oxymoronic and unenchanting than debugging someone else's code. (Particularly when you don't work for yourself and don't make big bucks doing it.) I always proposed to dispense with such groups.

If I write a piece of code, I own it. And if there's a problem with it, it should be my responsibility to fix it (and, of course, get second opinions via a peer code review.)

I recently wrote a proposal to begin regular code reviews at my current employer. It'll take some getting used to the idea, I can see, for I'm not quite sure we have the same understanding of what a code review truly means. Some people have taken it to mean that they should send me random PL/SQL and SQL statements to look at.

I've responded with equating that to asking a builder to have a look at a particular brick or two-by-four and have them tell you whether or not they think it's appropriate, without also telling the builder what your overall objective in the final building will be. How large should it be? In what location? Do we have any existing materials on hand that we *don't* have to purchase?

Even so, I really like the group of people I work with now. At least the idea of having regular code reviews is being bantied about, which is better than the idea being dismissed altogether.

Thu Apr 21, 08:34:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Pratap said....

A suggestion - In your next blog will you cover something related to quality and processes. What you follow and make your team follow to ensure you get top most quality. For e.g. - Are you very harsh on people who do not indent their code properly.

Thu Apr 21, 08:49:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Matthias Rogel said....

"
Do not believe that a college or advanced degree means someone is better than someone without, it gives them an advantage, especially in the beginning but doesn't mean they are necessarily better.
"

Possibly true, but sheds some light on
the quality of our schools resp. our degrees, doesn't it ?

My opinion: yes, that's true, but *it shouldn't*

Own a degree in mathematics as well (German university), and experienced that a degree in maths doesn't mean
"he/she is creative in maths, can find out things his/her own" as it should.
(then it would mean, he/she would be also a better programmer)

Just my opinion !

Thu Apr 21, 08:52:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Scot from Jacksonville said....

Cool to hear you mention sports. I'm a big sports fan, follow the Jaguars of the NFL very closely. Other sports too, but not as much since the start of a family. But hardly anyone I've known in computers seems to care about sports; either just not interested or they think it is 'below' them or something (just a bunch of guys banging into each other). But I love the strategy and the matchups, and the front office stuff like the upcomming draft.

Are you a sports fan? Are there many of us computer guys who are, and I just happened to have not met them yet?

Thu Apr 21, 09:17:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Kashif said....

Interesting post Tom. I agree with the school not being the only thing to look at comment, though unfortunately a Harvard or Princeton graduate is more likely to be recruited or employed than a Rick's University (fictitious) grad. Point being that the honest few who know that the degree you have or the school that you went to is not the only thing, are outweighed by the other group which places a premium on your "educational pedigree". As Metallica would put it, "you know it's sad but true".

Code reviews - impossible in today's environment where developers/programmers are viewed as commodities by upper management that can be substituted by the next one that comes along. Manual labor almost. There's no ownership, and therefore no loyalty to the product. I think the real issue is those management types who have no earthly idea about software development and hardware running the IT department, and making decisions related to technology. How I wish for some real IT folks who rose up through the ranks to also manage IT. Anyway, that's another one of my rants, rant #43 actually... ;) And it's just my experience, others might disagree.

Finally, Tom, I'm curious to know your thoughts about outsourcing IT, I mean, how does that even work? Where do you draw the lines, who takes ownership of the end product, i.e the software? I work in an environment where because of our outsourced IT model, a simple change to one of our development/test environments requires a 5 day wait time, paperwork like you would not believe, and I don't even want to get into the politics involved where no one is willing to take responsibility for any issues and quick to point fingers at the other team. I think this relates back to the code review issue, where because the applications has been thrown around like a beach ball, there's no sense/proper design/thought put into the final product. Boy it felt good to get that out of my system... ;)

Anyway, thanks for this blog, it's good to hear about the man behind the forum (Asktom that is)...

Kashif

Thu Apr 21, 11:08:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

Well, thanks for answering my q and turn it into a full-blown article, I really appreciated it ;)

For what it's worth, i've had a different experience - I didn't start programming after graduation, but at the age of 15, as an hobby. And, as my formal education progressed in parallel, I noticed a steady increase in my programming skills (or better, approach to programming), peaking at my college years, where I didn't study IT but math+engineering (only loosely related to IT). I'm not sure i would be the same person without my degree , but i haven't met any Woody at the same time ... but still i test-test-test since my first job, and try to break my own code, try to open the black boxes ... I owe it to the mindset they instilled me in school, i bet (or perhaps i just chose the school that was best for my DNA ? Big question).

PS We may say the asktom is Code Review open to the whole planet ... next blog should be on "how AskTom was born" ;)

Thu Apr 21, 11:08:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Possibly true, but sheds some light on the quality of our schools resp. our degrees, doesn't it ?

Let me clarify -- I think a persons education never actually stops. If you go to work out of high school, you are being educated (I hope). As you meet people and get new ideas, you are being educated.

That I know how to integrate a function -- prove that the square root of two is not a rational number -- that was one way to get educated.

I think the mentoring I recieved was the deal maker. Without it -- I would be a radically different person.

Life is a bunch of coincidences, that's our education.

Thu Apr 21, 11:50:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I agree with the school not being the only thing to look at comment

Goes with what I said: ... I might not have had the same opportunities that I had, but I would not have been radically different as a person. ....

I would not have had the same starting opportunities, but if I made it - after so many years - it would not matter at all if I went to college or not.

Thu Apr 21, 12:05:00 PM EDT  

Blogger R Menon said....

Funny thing.. I clicked
on your profile and clicked
on the link to "My wife and kids".
Took me a while to figure out
that I was not looking at
the profiles of your family
members! ;-)

Great article, as usual.
I agree that education gives
you the initial advantage,
but that is about it. Sometimes
the advantage can be huge. And
many times, it can actually show
the level of intelligence in
certain areas as well (I know
I may get some flak here.)
For example, in India there are
sets of institutes called
IIT and the entrance exam for
that is known to very rigorous
and difficult (sometimes
10% to 15% score is very good.)
The people who top the
exam (I have known some of
them) are at a different level
in certain areas (e.g. analytical
skills, ability to grasp concepts
etc.) But ultimately it has
no strong corelation to
success (we are talking of
success as the "Tom Kyte" level
of success here.)Intellectual
capability is just one aspect
of success in any field - it
is the attitude, the drive, the
passion that really matters the most.

In the end, it is up to the
individual to make the
most of what opportunities
he or she gets in life. More
than any education, it is how
one deals with the opportunities
or even hardships one gets to
encounter in one's life that
really matters. What is a disaster
for one is an opportunity for
another in the same situation.
Easier said than done, though :)

Thu Apr 21, 12:46:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Richard said....

The thing about degrees, now, is that far more people are able to study for and then get one than, say, 20 years ago. This is just a natural product of an ever *elevating* society. It's similar to car & home ownership - when I was a kid (25 years or so ago), none of my neighbours owned their home, and relatively few had a car; now, it's the opposite.

The increase in number of graduates year-on-year doesn't, to my mind, mean that the quality of our acedemic institutions is necessarily falling, but simply that more people today can even think of going for a degree.

This increase in graduate levels, has, I think, demystified the whole *getting a degree* thing; I suspect that employers will place more value on interview tests (theory & practical) in future, as a true gauge of a candidate's abilities/potential.

The most intelligent person I know doesn't have a degree; some of the most incapable people I've known do.

Thu Apr 21, 01:04:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Kashif said....

Interesting post Tom. I agree with the school not being the only thing to look at comment, though unfortunately a Harvard or Princeton graduate is more likely to be recruited or employed than a Rick's University (fictitious) grad. Point being that the honest few who know that the degree you have or the school that you went to is not the only thing, are outweighed by the other group which places a premium on your "educational pedigree". As Metallica would put it, "you know it's sad but true".

Code reviews - impossible in today's environment where developers/programmers are viewed as commodities by upper management that can be substituted by the next one that comes along. Manual labor almost. There's no ownership, and therefore no loyalty to the product. I think the real issue is those management types who have no earthly idea about software development and hardware running the IT department, and making decisions related to technology. How I wish for some real IT folks who rose up through the ranks to also manage IT. Anyway, that's another one of my rants, rant #43 actually... ;) And it's just my experience, others might disagree.

Finally, Tom, I'm curious to know your thoughts about outsourcing IT, I mean, how does that even work? Where do you draw the lines, who takes ownership of the end product, i.e the software? I work in an environment where because of our outsourced IT model, a simple change to one of our development/test environments requires a 5 day wait time, paperwork like you would not believe, and I don't even want to get into the politics involved where no one is willing to take responsibility for any issues and quick to point fingers at the other team. I think this relates back to the code review issue, where because the applications has been thrown around like a beach ball, there's no sense/proper design/thought put into the final product. Boy it felt good to get that out of my system... ;)

Anyway, thanks for this blog, it's good to hear about the man behind the forum (Asktom that is)...

Kashif

Thu Apr 21, 01:48:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

[quote = "menon"]
it is the attitude, the drive, the passion that really matters the most.
[/quote]

Well said!!

[quote = "kashif"]
There's no ownership, and therefore no loyalty to the product
[/quote]

Absolutely true!!

More food for blogideas.txt (better making it a table, it's going to grow extensively, take this a safe bet ;)

Thu Apr 21, 02:49:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Scot from Jacksonville...

Not all sports fans have to be 'guys'...I'm an avid fan of the 'golden days' of sports
when Kenny Stabler, Dan Pastorini, Roger Staubach, hey...even Billy Kilmer(with the big beer belly) and Sonny Jurgenson didn't need drugs to perform.

Any boxing fans???...saw all the Ali, Frazier, Marvin Hagler,Tommy Hearns, Alexis Arguello, Sugar Ray Leonard, and my all time favorite Roberto Duran("manos de piedras")fights.

Sports today are a sad state of affairs from what they were back in the 70's and 80's...let's not forget Walt Chamberlain, Walt Frazier, Larry Bird, Danny Ainge, Jerry West and the rest of the basketball greats.

Tom...great career story...can't imagine you as a cook...got any good recipe's?

Thu Apr 21, 03:08:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

And sorry, but i can't resist to making a final comment - one can discuss about the pragmatic value of a degree, but the sheer beauty of things like the analytical functions (Laurent's and Cauchy's work mostly), or the Banach spaces, or the Maxwell's theory of the electromagnetic field, is something I remember even now and makes me happy, and i would have not meet those beautiful flowers without my college years. Slightly OT, but something to consider when choosing whether or not sweating in college.

Thu Apr 21, 03:15:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

Enough of your philisophical musings, Alberto. It's time for business.

Tom, if I PayPal'd you $2 would you put a link from your blog to mine, at http://oraclesponge.oracle.com?

:D

Thu Apr 21, 04:31:00 PM EDT  

Blogger DaPi said....

I must asmit I'm totally out of touch now . . . .

"The year was 1987. . . . I had not touched a computer really in college, it was all proofs and theorems)."

That's amazing. Already in 1967 (admitedly in Maths for Scientists) we had lectures on something ALGOL'ish (alpha labels with jokes about GO TO L) and queues forming the next day to puch program tapes for THE computer.

After 1976 solution to the 4-colour problem, I'm very surprised you'd get to the end of a Maths course in 1987 not having really touched a computer. (No disrespect intended).


What joy to see Alberto describe Mexwell's equations as "sheer beauty" ! ! ! ! !

Thu Apr 21, 04:34:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous John Spencer said....

Tom:

I am enjoying your posts here. It is nice to get to know the "real" Tom. I wasn't sure whether to drop this link here or on AskTom, but it seems to be somewhat related to this post.

On SearchOracle.com, Mr. Burleson has an article: Evaluating the Credibilty of Oracle Information.

http://searchoracle.techtarget.com/tip/0,289483,sid41_gci1081593,00.html?track=NL-93&ad=511800

Though you might be interested.

Thu Apr 21, 04:36:00 PM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

... and replies are starting at http://www.dbasupport.com/forums/showthread.php?threadid=47165

Thu Apr 21, 04:39:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

"My wife and kids".
Laughing out loud... They asked my interests and I listed them, they get linked to others that said the same....

but the sheer beauty of things like the analytical functions
Doing the proofs was was my favorite thing -- in pencil on paper. Being a lefty, my hand was covered with graphite and the pages sort of blurry. But nothing like having completed one and having it be "right"

I must admit I'm totally out of touch now
In 1987, Pitt was replacing all of the teletypes at the RJE (Remote Junction Entry or something like that) with these new fangled VT's. I could not bear to use a teletype, I had one computer science course as a freshman and quickly switched to math. Never looked back :)

Evaluating the Credibilty of Oracle Information.

I don't care much of Joe Smoe writes it, if it is

a) accurate
b) correct
c) legible
d) comes with compelling evidence

I'll read it. Even Einstein was wrong sometimes. Good thing he backed up what he said with "evidence"...

I still want to know how to see unbalanced freelists! Really, we might all be suffering from them, we just don't have his second sight to be able to see them....

Thu Apr 21, 06:05:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Doug C said....

I have gone back and forth on this argument for a while about “college grads”. I didn't have a lot of money out of High School and went to a state university but now, about 7 yrs later my company is paying for my masters degree in CS at a pretty well known school. I have missed two hotsos conventions because of the expense of getting my masters degree and I’ve been frustrated about it. I don’t know how many chances I’ll have to get a masters degree and I think hotsos will still be around when I finish up. Although I agree that a degree doesn't necessarily mean the person is the best candidate for the job or the best DBA and I also see that a few lugnuts get through higher education - for the most part, people who get masters degrees at least demonstrate motivation and the ability to do hard work on a schedule if not make a nice contribution to the field. I hate to see everyone take a collective dump on higher education, since yes, there are self-made people who never finished High School but odds are, you have a more qualified candidate with someone who has a higher degree. It’s just like actuaries with insurance companies in some cases. I said “odds are”.. I didn’t say it was 100% or even 90% or even 80% Also, I recognize we had a recent fight with Don Burleson about this very subject so perhaps it’s time to look a the side of people with no fancy credentials. Heck, if I had an idea for a technical best seller on matriculation day I probably would have gone with the book as well but there’s always tomorrow. I just know that there are an awful lot of sharp faculty where I’m going to school and I hate to think we don’t value them or what they can teach us. And there are an awful lot of very bright teachers who don’t get paid a lot of money and it’s a shame. That being said, although it is true that a person with a degree is not necessarily better, most of the time, a person without a degree is not necessarily better either. College/no college aside, I do agree with the fundamental razor in play here, if a person can prove it and it makes sense, listen to them.

Fri Apr 22, 02:58:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I hate to see everyone take a collective dump on higher education

Not saying that at all, trying to say the reverse of that.

We should not be taking a collective dump on those without these degrees, especially after they have proven themselves for years in "real life"

Not trying to dump on the degree at all.

Life if a bunch of coincidences, mine took me down this route.

Fri Apr 22, 07:22:00 AM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

One interesting thing about the article is that DKB appears to offer no opinions of his own, although many of us are familiar with his opinions on these topics before hand. It reads somewhat like one of those "FOx News" shows ... "Some people might say ...", "You know, I've heard it said that ...", "Apparantly some people are now saying ..."

so if you read it carefully you find that DKB puts forward tow sides of every arguement ... "I search Google to find out about people" vs. "Resume's are often faked". "You can really tell something about people based on their academic background" vs. "educated idiots".

Not much of an "editorial" in my opinion ... http://dictionary.reference.com/search?q=editorial

Fri Apr 22, 08:49:00 AM EDT  

Blogger David Aldridge said....

$2 on it's way! Another $3 if you take Mark and Howard off ;)

Let the bidding begin.

Fri Apr 22, 08:53:00 AM EDT  

Blogger R Menon said....

Doing the proofs was was my favorite thing -- in pencil on paper.

Yup. I can identify with that.
Back in India, during high school
days, Maths was my favorite subject
(OK I lied, I liked physics more
but never got the hang of it)

In Maths, my favorite topics
were trignometry, integrals,
differentiation etc. I used
to love to prove LHS = RHS,
especially in integration
related topics. My favorite
words were:
"Hence Proved"!
I also loved proving by induction.

Anyway, reverting back to physics,
are you interested in it? I love
it though as I said, I dont think
I have a good grasp of it.
It is amazing how one can construct
very complex problems out of
newton's three laws of motion
(Anyone heard of "Irodov"?)

What about Einstein's theory
of relativity? I always wondered
what it really meant...

Too off topic though I am not worried given this is not asktom!:)

Fri Apr 22, 12:47:00 PM EDT  

Blogger R Menon said....

"Resnick & Halliday" also
had written another lovely physics book with lots of interesting problems at the end of each chapter.

OK back to work...

Fri Apr 22, 12:51:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

Anyway, reverting back to physics, are you interested in it?

I've read the Hawkings Material and found Bill Brysons "A short history of nearly everything" to be good reads -- at the level I can take physics now.

In college, my path was abstract algebra. After sophmore year, there were fewer and fewer concrete numbers at the back of the book to be had. Seemed the fewer numbers to be had, the fewer the students over time too. I remember my first calculus class had close to 150 students in it. By my 4th semester of it, we all knew eachother by name. Topology (I got good grades in it but I'm not really sure I got it :) -- that was a class where you not only knew everyone by name, you knew their birthdays and everything else. Some of the classes wouldn't even have 10 people in them.

I had one semester of physics, due to the heavy math background it was really easy -- but I'm sure once they removed that "pure frictionless surface" concept we were allowed to use -- it would get alot harder.

Fri Apr 22, 01:08:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous denni50 said....

To r menon

There are different components to physics..theoretical and experimental physics.
I was a physics major back in my early college days before dropping out to become a 'hippie'.

Was dilly-dallying back and forth between Particle Physics or AstroPhysics (the very small to the very large).
Then came the language of Physics like linear models,quadratic equations, derivative and differential equations,calculus etc.

Higher math was not my cup of tea at the time in my life, The Beatles were exerting a far more powerful calling back then. Later on in life physics was relegated to
nothing more than a hobby/interest when I discovered computers. My first computer was the TRS-80 Radio Shack computer with 8k ram. I wrote my first BASIC program of
a ball going back and forth across the screen using x,y coordinates.

There are alot of websites and Physics forums where someone would be more than happy to explain
Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity. It's not really that hard to grasp. More recent is a new theory called Super Strings that theoretically unifies QM and GR(Gravity and Electromagnetism).

Another good reading is Einstein's-Maxwell's equations on electromagnetism that set the stage for Einstein's theory on Special Relativity.

It does appear to be that a majority of technical professionals have backgrounds
in the sciences,math and
engineering fields. I guess it's a 'DNA' thing.

Fri Apr 22, 02:59:00 PM EDT  

Blogger R Menon said....

I've read the Hawkings Material and found Bill Brysons "A short history of nearly everything" to be good reads -- at the level I can take physics now.

Even Hawkings is not an easy
read (at least for me.) I remember
I got lost somewhere towards
the end (page 100 or so I think).

To denni50

Familiar "face" from asktom :)

There are a lot of websites and Physics forums where someone would be more than happy to explain
Einstein's General and Special Theories of Relativity. It's not really that hard to grasp. More recent is a new theory called Super Strings that theoretically unifies QM and GR(Gravity and Electromagnetism).


Well, from what I understand
very few people in the world
have a real understanding of
the theory of relativity - even
today. But, of course, I may
be wrong. I once tried to
get it - bought a bunch of books
and gave up half way since it
looked too involved to be
understood when reading in
a casual manner.


Anyway, do you know
of any good forums?

I heard of the Strings theory
in one of the public radio
programs I was listening to
the other day. That is about
my extent of knowledge about
it:)

Fri Apr 22, 05:37:00 PM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Hi Tom,
In your article "In search of the truth Or Correlation is not Causation" you mentioned:
"The other one of my guiding principles is that I ask for proof from everyone (yes, it can be annoying, it carries over into my personal life as well. Ask my wife and kids)."
It would be interesting if you can expand on affect of your approach to personal life.
Cheers!

Sat Apr 23, 04:20:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

A good String theory website
http://superstringtheory.com/

and a good book is

http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/ASIN/0375708111/qid=1114256755/sr=2-1/ref=pd_bbs_b_2_1/104-4915225-1174360

Sat Apr 23, 07:46:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous denni50 said....

r menon

you can type in the search engine physics and a host of websites and forums will appear.

here is a link to virtual software that you can download for free on Relativity. Maybe a visual representation will help you grasp
the concepts easier. Reading this stuff in books can be daunting.


http://wwwvis.informatik.uni-stuttgart.de/~weiskopf/relativity/software.html

(sorry Tom don't mean to rain on your blog but don't have anywhere else to share this info for those technical professionals interested in this stuff).

thanks ;-)

Mon Apr 25, 08:44:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

sorry Tom don't mean to rain on your blog...

No rain here, this has been great so far. I'm enjoying this different kind of conversation...

Mon Apr 25, 08:49:00 AM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

For seekers of beauty:

http://lightspeed.sourceforge.net/screenshots/

(scroll down if you're a Trekker ;)

Mon Apr 25, 05:43:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Alberto Dell'Era said....

And don't miss the Physics behind ...

http://lightspeed.sourceforge.net/about.html

Mon Apr 25, 05:49:00 PM EDT  

Blogger SheldonQuinny said....

Hi ,
Belive Me Being An Graduate In Arts.. Is The End Of The World, If U Living In India And Graduated In Art And Looking For An Job As An Oracle Dba. Forget It. U Out Of Luck.

I Trying To Get An Job In India [Mumbai] - Being An BA And Done An Oracle Dba Course , Looking Out For An Job . In India They Have Too Many Company Policy.. U Have To Be An B.E Or An MCA Or M.SC Or They Ur Cv Is In Trash If U Want To Even Get An Entry For An Job In Some Big Company.
Best Part Is The Apptitute Test. That A Nerve Racking Thing.. I Really Find It Hard To Figure Out That.

Anyways , First Time Replying To The Blog.. And Kyte Being An BA.. Give Me Something To Think About.

Good Luck With Ur Future.
All The Best.
I Read Ur Two Books Seem Good Like The Effective Oracle By Design One.
Hope U Remove More Books.

Good Luck.
Sheldon Quinny
SheldonQuinny@Gmail.Com

Tue May 03, 07:49:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous some one said....

THANKS TOM, THANKS... I am very glad to see such things from you(relation between a degree and no degree). I hope this comment also applies to people who think that students from 'Top 20' schools are greater than other students. That too years after they get the degree. I have seen many people with degrees from top schools at a much lower level than I was (I am not a guru in anything, by any means - just try to learn new things as needed. There are many people who know lot more than me).

I have lived in the west for 10+ years. I found out, in the beginning when I got here, that I was not getting any call from the 'big consulting' companies because I did not have a degree from US. On the other hand, many of my friends from India who were rich enough to get their Masters degree in US (after their bachelors there) got multiple offers from big consulting companies. I got here with work experience. I did not think technically, professionally, or in most other areas that mattered I was any lesser than them back then.

Right from school days these friends who were my classmates back there were at a comparable level in hard work, knowledge, goals, etc. It took a while for me to understand why I never got calls from the companies. (Sure enough there are many consultants without US degrees too, but the way they seem to treat people with degrees here seem very different).


By the way, why were you looking to get technical MBA? I hope your company didnt say that to be considered 'equal' to other managers you had to have an MBA. If they say technical person cannot manage a project it doesnt sound quite right to me. Technical knowledge is also got by working towards it. Why cant a person who has worked towards gaining tech skills also work towards gaining people skills and other management skills? (as opposed to many managers with people skills but with questionable technical skills and almost zero tech skills in some cases). I hope they realize it is a correct mix of talents.

What is your take on the argument that a manager does not need to be technical to manage projects?

:)

Sat May 14, 04:40:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Thomas Kyte said....

I am very glad to see such things from you..

I am of the mindset that once you've been working -- that is what counts, especially after a decade. The track record is there - if two people worked basically the same job at the same place and produced the same output -- well, there you go.

I was looking to get a technical MBA because, well, I'm a techie - and I was bored, I needed to do something and that seemed obvious.

I think in most cases a non-technie can project manage a technical team IF the technical team has a good, pragmatic technical lead they (the PM) can trust. In fact, those teams probably work best because most technical people truly don't want to PM, but they don't mind leading (and there is a difference)

Else they are doomed.

Sat May 14, 07:37:00 PM EDT  

Blogger Mouad said....

Hi
I have a bachelor's Degree in Physics, when I graduated I decided to start my career in something completely different from what I studied, so I worked hard to get certified as an Oracle PL/SQL Developer, and I worked as software development engineer for almost 2 years. After that I came to USA to continue my career. I have had fear from not been able to find a job or that people they will not accept my degree or my experience, or not giving me chance to show them what I can do, until I visited this Blog. I really I like this sentence: "Do not believe that a college or advanced degree means someone is better than someone without, it gives them an advantage, especially in the beginning but doesn't mean they are necessarily better" Thank you so much Mr Tom for sharing with us your personal experience. That was a pleasure for me to visit this blog.
Thank you!

Tue Jun 01, 01:52:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

Wow! this article of your's Tom has really inspired me, I think education does help in a lot of ways but then the opportunities that you get are purely destiny. Therefore one just work hard and be optimistic about what one learns and does, though one must make sure that curosity towards learning must not dminish at all.

Fri Jun 01, 08:34:00 AM EDT  

Anonymous Anonymous said....

wow, breath taking and extremely inspiring Tom, I totaly agree that to become a great you must follow and imitate The Master (albiet "MENTOR"). Truly enchanting story of your early days that have realy craved hunger in me that to achieve your dream you have to work very very hard and relentlessly with consistency.

Shahzad Hussain Magsi

Fri Jul 20, 07:04:00 AM EDT  

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