Survey: Computer Science in Quiz Bowl

Dormant threads from the high school sections are preserved here.
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How much computer science have you taken at your high school?

Poll ended at Sat Jul 08, 2006 9:22 pm

None (because none is offered)
7
17%
None (offered but I wasn't interested)
12
29%
A literacy course of some sort (not required to graduate)
2
5%
A literacy course of some sort (required to graduate)
2
5%
A computer programming course (not required to graduate)
4
10%
A computer programming course (required to graduate)
1
2%
More than one computer programming course
11
27%
Other (please explain)
2
5%
 
Total votes: 41

Byko
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Survey: Computer Science in Quiz Bowl

Post by Byko »

After seeing the usual programming-oriented computer science questions mostly get zeroed at NAQT this past weekend, I'm curious to see how many quiz bowlers actually have actually had some connection to computer science. Insert your comments/discussion below.
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Post by dschafer »

I have no problem with computer science questions, though I've admittadly taken 8 semesters of CS in High School and am majoring in it in college. The math theory category in this year's TJIAT was actually "Math Theory/Computer Science," though the affinity of Evan and myself for CS probably influenced that. The "Trace the following code" questions I've seen at Panasonic strike me as a little odd, but I have no more issue with (well-written) questions on "Turing machine," "Bubble Sort," or "A-Star Algorithm" than I do with (well-written) questions on "Pride and Prejudice," "James K. Polk," or "Boyle's Law."
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Post by Bugsy »

One year of CP 1; I had to fill a tech credit, but didn't necessarily need CP. CP 1 at RM is C++.
NAQT CP seems to be weighted towards Java, with a bit of C++ and compsci thrown in. I wonder what programming languages tend to be taught at the intro level at most schools...

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Post by dschafer »

As the AP CS exam is in Java now, I suspect most Intro to CS courses are in Java, at least for schools that offer both Intro and AP. I know this is why the Intro class at TJ switched to Java.
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Post by pakman044 »

A similar topics is located in the college discussion forum under Computer Science Coursework and Quizbowlers.

When I went to high school (the amount of time the "went" implies is now rapidly increasing), there was no computer science/programming course offered per se at my high school (even though it was fairly AP-heavy school--vocational type classes simply weren't emphasized). My experience in high school that tilted me towards computer science in college was actually a computer networking course that I took (the school also offered the A+ hardware certification class).

While it definitely should be frowned upon to discuss specifics per se about the questions (especially as this is not a marked HSNCT thread, but see also Matt's advisory), what would be interesting to ask is what kinds of computer science questions were asked? Were they more language-dependent or language-independent (for example, questions where knowing Java or C++ or something else was absolutely necessary versus questions where programming concepts like control structures, objects, encapsulation, inheritance, design were more helpful)? Depending on the specific slant of the questions, it may indicate that people had a more difficult time responding. On the other hand, it may be more indicative that fewer people have experience with computer programming in general (even in college, so many people just take one programming course to get it out of the way, and then set it aside like so many required nonmajor courses).

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Post by insaneindian »

I took Java and AP but I didn't really pay attention to the different sorting methods. The only one I ever used was bubble sort. Doesnt that have a horrible big O?
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Post by pakman044 »

<DERAIL>
O(n^2) [see article]. Looking at the article (and the psuedocode), it is pretty easy to see why the issues--nested for loops (contributing to n*n time). It is very simple, as pointed out, and isn't too bad for small n. The problem I see is that the number of comparisons may lead to a greater number of pipeline flushes, leading to a performance hit. However if simplicity is important, and memory for code is an issue (read embedded system), this may be worth examining...maybe.
</DERAIL>

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Post by Mechanical Beasts »

pakman044 wrote: While it definitely should be frowned upon to discuss specifics per se about the questions (especially as this is not a marked HSNCT thread, but see also Matt's advisory), what would be interesting to ask is what kinds of computer science questions were asked? Were they more language-dependent or language-independent (for example, questions where knowing Java or C++ or something else was absolutely necessary versus questions where programming concepts like control structures, objects, encapsulation, inheritance, design were more helpful)? Depending on the specific slant of the questions, it may indicate that people had a more difficult time responding. On the other hand, it may be more indicative that fewer people have experience with computer programming in general (even in college, so many people just take one programming course to get it out of the way, and then set it aside like so many required nonmajor courses).
Patrick King
The vast majority of compsci questions are about design or theoretical terms. The others are "give the keyword" or else "evaluate the expression," which isn't too hard on the whole, especially as the former was inferrable if you had any compsci knowledge, and the latter was (to my knowledge) the same in Java and C++, though I'm not sure about how those operators work.

On the other hand, with one term of computer science (Karel++, took care of my credit requirement) and a bit of freelance work (I like making circles smarter and smarter; don't ask me why) I thirtied every compsci bonus.

The compsci should definitely stay; it adds a certain mix. And, as a TJ compatriot (whose name I don't know, regrettably) said, you can just as soon object to a tossup on pathfinding algorithms like A star as one on Mannerist sculptors.

Question quality is important, though; I'm not prepared to judge (I'm only a high school junior, and though I've read a few thousand questions in my day, I'm no grad student) whether compsci questions are on the whole better or more poorly written than the rest.

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Post by Mechanical Beasts »

insaneindian wrote:I took Java and AP but I didn't really pay attention to the different sorting methods. The only one I ever used was bubble sort. Doesnt that have a horrible big O?
As I recall, for the worst case scenario (most poorly oriented data for that particular algorithm that there can be, so the order of elements varies) bubblesort is actually just as good as quicksort--O(n^2)--though 95% of the time quicksort will outperform it significantly.

The only (simple) algorithm that comes to mind that's any different for worst case scenario big O is mergesort, with O(n log n). On the other hand, again, sortedness of the data (and, relevantly, sortedness of the data relative to the algorithm) matters.

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Post by conker »

I say keep computer science in quiz bowl. It is an AP course at most schools, and students who have a deep knowledge of computer science should be rewarded. And this is coming from a person who has never taken Comp Sci in high school. How hard is it to add quicksort and bubble sort, etc. to one's quiz team knowledge?

The only qualm I have with Comp Sci bonuses at the high school level is that they do not have any giveaways, unlike lit, history, etc. bonuses. There's not much "gray" area between 30 points and 0--you either know it or you don't.

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Post by Strongside »

I personally dislike computer science because I know almost nothing about it but I think that computer science questions should be used but just not too much.

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Post by ASimPerson »

In a sort of response to this thread and the corresponding college thread, I'm all for CS questions in quizbowl. (Disclaimer: I'm a CS major.)

Unfortunately, over my time, most of the questions have been "name the programming language", which isn't really CS.

As for my HS experience, I had 4 programming (I hestitate to call them CS, except for the AP class) back in "the day" (1999-2003) when the AP exam was in C++. I did Pascal, C, C++, and Java back then. Overall, I was really fortunate my high school had any courses, especially since I was at an Alabama public school.

Overall, I think well written questions about really common aspects of CS theory (i.e., sorts, data structures, etc.) are appropiate even for some high school tournaments, but perhaps they haven't penetrated cannon enough yet to be common fodder.
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Post by Chris Frankel »

ASimPerson wrote:In a sort of response to this thread and the corresponding college thread, I'm all for CS questions in quizbowl. (Disclaimer: I'm a CS major.)

Unfortunately, over my time, most of the questions have been "name the programming language", which isn't really CS.
Nick, for what it's worth, I haven't seen a question like that in a college tournament for the past 2-3 years. I know nothing about programming and theory, but I have counted enough CS majors as teammates or personal acquaintances (e.g. Dan Benediktson, Jordan Boyd-Graber, Leo Wolpert, Paul Litvak) that I tend to get it pointed out to me when the CS questions are notably bad or good. I think it would be worth looking at some recent ACF packets, one of the Science Monstrosities, or a tournament edited by someone like Weiner, Jerry, Sorice, etc.

At least from a layman's perspective, most of the CS questions I've seen seem to be on data structures or algorithms. In HS you might find a lot less of that, but I think the lower difficulty level makes it prudent to keep a good deal of the CS canon to stuff that one might encounter without having to take Comp Sci AP or teach himself programming.
"They sometimes get fooled by the direction a question is going to take, and that's intentional," said Reid. "The players on these teams are so good that 90 percent of the time they could interrupt the question and give the correct answer if the questions didn't take those kinds of turns. That wouldn't be fun to watch, so every now and then as I design these suckers, I say to myself, 'Watch this!' and wait 'til we're on camera. I got a lot of dirty looks this last tournament."

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Post by Matt Weiner »

Yeah, it seems like ACF packet-submitters like asking about specific terms, while NAQT has asked the "does this appear in Pascal, Java, both or neither" type bonus a few times of late. In both formats, the reliance on history of specific languages and sorting algorithms has substantially dropped in favor of more real-knowledge based questions over the past few years. That's definitely a good thing and should enable CS people to demonstrate their skills during games.

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Post by leapfrog314 »

I basically agree with Dan. Questions on general CS material (sorting algorithms, Turing, etc) should definitely be among the theoretical math asked at tournaments. But the bonus at NAQT asking for Java keywords pissed me off because of the in-depth knowledge of a specific language that it required. I must also admit that I was irked because I do program and know CS, but was planning on learning Java this summer. :mad:

And since when did Panasonic ever have "trace this code" questions? Anyway, I wouldn't mind a few pseudocode handouts asking for the algorithms' big-Os. (I highly recommend language non-specific CS questions.)
Last edited by leapfrog314 on Thu Jun 15, 2006 6:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by ASimPerson »

Most college tournaments I've been too have been pretty good about the distinction....since this is the HS section I guess I was referring more to that.

I don't remember hearing any CS at regionals in 2004 or 2005, though, if there was any there wasn't more than 1 or 2. (Obviously, there could have been some in the packets we didn't play.) We didn't go to regionals this year, though, so perhaps this has changed a bit, and either way, this isn't really the topic for discussing CS distributions in college. (Also, I should note that I don't want to pass an opinion on whether or not ACF regional's CS distribution is a good thing, since I'm going to be pretty biased about any discussion of CS in the game. As for fall, I can't remember distinctly what sort of CS distribution it usually has.)
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Post by Kechara »

As the humanities person that stumbled across this thread, I never had any interest in taking CS, and I would be severely disturbed if I ever got a CS question. (If y'all want a good laugh, the only computer language I ever learned how to use was LogoWriter.) As for what was offered in my hs (disclaimer: I graduated from HS in 1999), some combination of C/C++ was offered for the advanced class, but the intro class was at least partially in BASIC. I have a sneaking suspicion from what I heard from people, though, that a large part of that was to give students something they would actually use for something other than assignments, as games for the TI-82 and TI-83 were written in BASIC.
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