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In this special episode of Hanselminutes, co-produced in partnership with ACM ByteCast we welcome Jelani Nelson, Professor of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science and a member of the Theory Group at the University of California, Berkeley, and a Research Scientist at Google. Among his honors, he won the 2014 Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers. He is the creator of AddisCoder, a computer science summer program for Ethiopian high school students in Addis Ababa.
Jelani and Scott discuss his journey from learning HTML when he was 12 to becoming a theoretical computer scientist. They talk about the spectrum between software engineering and theory and how even theoretical CS research can have an impact on industry practice; teaching his Introduction to Algorithms course of more than 700 students; running a highly successful algorithmic boot camp for students in Ethiopia to learn coding; the times he feels most accomplished in his work; and the importance of creating access and awareness of computing opportunities for students.