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Optimization Craft
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    I'll write about the crafting of optimization software for integrated circuit design. There is a unique joy and struggle in building something that must aim at perfection yet never achieve it. My secret goal is to share the excitement so other programmers decide to join me.
  • The Author

    Brent Gregory

    I've been writing software for fun since 1975, and at Synopsys since 1987. When I'm not coding, I manage an amazing team of software engineers who invent algorithms to solve the hardest problems in computer science. I mainly work on the tools that read a user's description of an integrated circuit, and compile it into the billions of polygons that implement the function in silicon.

Seven Steps to Career Growth for Computer Science Majors

Posted by Brent Gregory on December 9th, 2013

Step What Why
1 Get a job at a company that sells software. Work where you directly impact company revenue and growth.
2 Determine the critical properties of the software that drive purchase decisions. Understand the link between your software and revenue.
3 Get a job in a department where you can affect those critical properties. Go where you can have the most impact.
4 Find or build a system that measures the critical properties. Measuring is the first step toward improving.
5 Write code that improves the measurements of critical properties. This is how you add value.
6 Deliver your improvements to customers, and ensure they see the benefits. This is how your value is realized.
7 Review your progress, and adjust. Feedback loops drive improvement.

I use these steps every day. I work at a company that sells the software that creates integrated circuits. Some critical properties are the run time of the software, and the clock frequency and power dissipation of the integrated circuits. I use a suite of realistic test cases to guide improvements to the critical properties. When a project looks like a winner on the internal tests, I take it to customers to see how it works in the real world. At every step, feedback loops keep things on track, and revenue is the ultimate feedback.

I developed these steps based on my experience working at Synopsys. They might also work in other industries. I think they work especially well at Synopsys because integrated circuit success is exquisitely tied to a set of crisply measurable critical properties, and those properties are driven by the quality of the algorithms we create.

Interested? Send me an email by clicking on my name above.

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2 Responses to “Seven Steps to Career Growth for Computer Science Majors”

  1. Viviane Mao says:

    Brent, awesome! Wonder if you would like to say something to teenagers who are considering taking on computer science?

  2. Brent Gregory says:

    Every teenager should try programming. I started by creating my own video games. I can’t think of a better way to have fun, and get paid. Start chasing the fun, and the pay will follow.

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