[pdx.st] Smalltalk curriculum?

Sam Livingston-Gray geeksam at gmail.com
Mon Dec 5 10:43:56 PST 2016

As a 2007 grad, I'm not sure of the current Smalltalk landscape at PSU.
When I took CS 420 from Andrew Black about a decade ago (2005? 2006?), he
taught it in Squeak, and I then went on to spend two more quarters of
independent study working on an honors thesis project using Squeak.  In
recent years, however, Andrew has started teaching CS 420 in Grace, a
language he and others are designing specifically to teach OO concepts.
He's also been using http://poodr.info as a textbook, which is in my top
five technical books.  (I've been writing Ruby professionally for a decade
now, and find it to be nearly an acceptable Smalltalk.)

My experience in the CS program at PSU involved a lot of C++ and Java.  For
my Data Structures classes, I implemented a solution in Python first, then
reimplemented in the required language, and whenever given the choice on
other assignments, I used Python, Ruby, and even PHP—but I still raised
enough NullPointerExceptions to last me a lifetime.  I know they've at
least talked about moving some of their core curriculum to a language like
Ruby, but I haven't heard of any actual movement on that front.  My *guess*
would be that little has changed, and that you might have to be strategic
about elective choices in order to maximize your time spent in dynamic

That said, if you're looking in the Portland area specifically, PSU has
some really good profs and a decent variety of elective courses (though
some of the courses listed in the catalog don't seem to get taught very
often).  There will be a fair bit math (the worst of it for me was a
400-level "Stats for Engineers" and some proofs in the algorithms course),
but I'd be surprised if you could find a CS program that didn't have a fair
bit of math.  (And discrete math was an unexpected joy, and I still use
bits of it daily.)


On Mon, Dec 5, 2016 at 8:39 AM, Tim Johnson <digit at sonic.net> wrote:

> Hi,
> I'm looking for undergraduate programs which offer some coverage of
> Smalltalk.  I have found that there are some Smalltalkers at Portland State
> University.  Is there some Smalltalk curriculum on offer there?
> I'm an adult student at this point, having dropped out of university many
> years ago and attending community colleges full- or part-time ever since.
> Math is not my favorite subject (though I certainly respect it) but I have
> always very much enjoyed language, the liberal arts, humanities, and
> programming -- which I have been pretty successful at, both as a hobby and
> professionally, since I was a kid.
> So as I get closer to my goal of transferring back into a 4-year program,
> I am looking for a program that allows me to exercise my passion for
> Smalltalk and dynamic languages, as well the next level down (C) and data
> structures, without requiring me to contort my brain uncomfortably into a
> mathematical straitjacket.
> Any tips?
> Thanks,
> Tim
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