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Is Programming Theory A Waste of Time?

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The importance of programming theory to real-world software development is a divisive issue within the developer community.

A lot of big tech companies still base hiring decisions around a candidate's understanding of programming fundamentals. Online coding courses and so-called bootcamps, which have exploded in popularity in recent years, rarely leave students with an understanding of programming fundamentals.

Theoretical knowledge is unnecessary for most jobs nowadays, says Bruno Rocha, an iOS software engineer at Spotify. "One does not need to master programming in a generic way if their job is to code for a specific platform, like web or iOS," he says.

It isn't a case of either/or, says Professor Tom Crick at Swansea University. Mastering software engineering requires theoretical knowledge that developers won't gain in an intensive online course. "You cannot be an expert after doing an eight-week or a three-month program," Crick says. "It's just impossible."

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