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Page history last edited by rsb 11 months, 4 weeks ago


My explanation of https://www.42.us.org/, based on some questions from a friend about it after I took a tour:


Hey, I answered your questions below, but first, here is my basic take on it:


42 is a modern, efficient computer science school.


You cover the same stuff that a CS undergrad and masters covers, without the extra math and other fluff, and you do it in about one year, unless you drop out.  The people who pass or fail in this context are not the same group that pass or fail in a traditional context - sometimes Phds in computer science drop quick, and homeless guys go all the way.


Importantly, there are no teachers to help you.  You just come in, figure it out, and get to work.  It's somewhat gamified without looking like a game, in that you know you are being scored on all kinds of things, but mostly the problems you have to do each day.


What they are doing is setting up an environment where you have to learn to use the internet, man pages, and chat with other developers who are in similar situations to solve problems.  Basically, it's similar to learning on the job, but solving the problems set out by 42 and collaborating with others in your situation.  You just sit down at a workstation each day and go for it.


The first month is called the piscine (pool), and during that time people work 12+ hour days on C/UNIX problems.  You have to learn to focus for a lot of hours each day to pass.  Each day you have until 11:42PM to submit the days problems. If you fail the piscine, you have to take it again or just quit.  You can't move on until you pass that.


For grading, you grade others and they grade you as you have time, and they have an AI that points out good and bad things to staff, who then make judgements as to whether to pass you after the first month.


You can fail a lot and still pass.  You have a whole bunch of other things that are considered - helping others - grading work - chatting and collaborating.  You can't go back and fix a score - your score for that day is your score.


Once you pass the first month, you can specialize along different tracks, AI, Robotics, etc.  They have a robotics lab that I saw four students in, working late into the night - class sizes shrink rapidly as the tracks progress.


On Wed, Aug 21, 2019 at 5:54 PM (someone) wrote:

This looks amazing and I wish I could be available tonight.
If youre still going please ask:
*How does one sign up


I actually don't know, but I think I can put you in touch with someone pretty easily.  Probably online.  Basically, they accept anyone, so that's not a stress point.


*What are the hours like


Long.  You have to quit your job(s) and dedicate a year to it to get the most out of it.


*Is it interpersonal


Yes.  It's super interpersonal, but with peers, not teachers.


*How do they make money?


They have a billionaire donor in france, and in western  and eastern europe they have tons of government support, so it's growing like wildfire there.  Over in the US, no one knows about it and they don't have any donors, so they are doing o.k., but struggling a bit.  They are efficient financially and students who stick with it get hired - so it has to succeed unless they screw up badly.


*What's the class size like 


The first class is max 1024 students - that's the first 30 day thing.  Usually it's more like 256 or 512 that actually apply, and that drops down to 4 or so in each specialty at the end of the year.


It would be a joy for me to take a year off and do something like 42.  If I ever have a day off I'll probably spend 5 minutes of that day dreaming about it.


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