Fundamentals really are that important. As I'm doing my master's thesis, I realize that most of my work is based on rather foundational work done around the 90s which is then enriched with recent advances in the field.
While recent papers seem overwhelming at first, learning and really understanding the fundamentals takes away at least half of the cognitive work necessary to understand the papers. And if you think about it, that shouldn't be surprising at all: A lot of research consists of about 50% foundations, 40% other researchers' work and 10% own contribution.
While your article covers a lot of the important lessons I learned at University (in a great and concise way!), I needed to learn another lesson myself: Be brave! Learning something new can seem like a daunting task, so it's important not to let it discourage and paralyze you. For some people calculus can be such a difficult subject. Others fear statistics or databases. But fear is your enemy, not the subject!
Thank you for the great comment @gadse
! I think you're right, fear is the great enemy of learning. Especially with math, the jargon and symbols can be intimidating, and if the idea that it's too hard becomes firmly implanted in a person's mind, then it becomes a self-fulfilling prophecy.
Along these lines, I saw this video several years ago that I think is great to inspire everyone that math is just another skill that we can all improve. It applies just as well to any other skill we might be intimidated by:
Thank you for the video! It instantly reminded me of those guys in my 1st semester who already knew all the programming stuff because they started programming in 9th grade. Of course I was foolish enough to compare myself to them, and I'm so happy I stuck with my CS studies despite feeling as if I should have already known all the details.
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