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Re(2): (OT) Should math (or adv. math) be required in CIS degrees?

by FoxtrotUniform (Prior)
on Jul 26, 2002 at 02:58 UTC ( #185411=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Re: (OT) Should math (or adv. math) be required in CIS degrees?
in thread (OT) Should math (or adv. math) be required in CIS degrees?

    I think that most of Calculus is useless for computer programming.

That's nice.

The entire field of machine learning is pretty much entirely applied calculus. Integer and real calcului are also rather important when it comes to solving constraint-satisfaction and constraint-optimization problems. Really abstruse, ivory-tower stuff with no real application to the real world. Like job scheduling. Oh, wait.... Many code optimization problems are NP-hard, like register sufficiency, code generation with unlimited registers, program equivalence or inequivalence, etfc... these kinds of problems are often best solved with constraint-optimization techniques. Is writing an optimizing compiler too theoretical and academic for you?

    Furthermore any subject which is taught because it teaches "analytical thinking" deserves to suffer the fate of Latin and Euclidean geometry.


Update: coreolyn, I didn't mean to imply that math was the only solution to the problem of teaching people to think analytically and abstractly, although I believe it's a good solution. The point is, though, that "good" software engineering practices are useless unless you know when and how and why to apply them, and you can't learn that merely by learning the syntax and semantics of a programming language. It's like knowing how to play an instrument, but not how to play in a given key or put together a chord progression.

The hell with paco, vote for Erudil!

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Re: Re(2): (OT) Should math (or adv. math) be required in CIS degrees?
by Anonymous Monk on Jul 26, 2002 at 11:15 UTC
    I agree with most of your examples. (The notable exception being constraint satisfaction, whose dose of Calculus can be largely replaced with an appeal to common sense.) And to your examples I would add that numerical modelling (applicable in lots of places) often uses calculus very intensely. Lots of areas in programming use calculus, shouldn't we conclude that Calculus should be core for CS?

    Not necessarily.

    It isn't hard to see that every area of knowledge could apply to any other area in some way. But no academic program can hope to teach more than a fraction of that information, and so needs to not only direct the firehose of knowledge at students, but also filter it. Trying to not filter is merely choosing to filter based on running out of time, and excess verbiage leaking out of apathetic brains.

    Given this reality, it is possible to validly disagree on which useful topics make the cut, but it isn't possible to disagree that something potentially useful will be cut. And when that choice comes, subjects that can offer no other reason for their being taught other than that they teach analytical thinking do not deserve to be spared the chopping block. After all, there are many places where students can be exposed to analytical thinking. Include one that does something else for you as well.

Re: Re(2): (Waaay OT) Should math (or adv. math) be required in CIS degrees?
by coreolyn (Parson) on Jul 27, 2002 at 02:07 UTC

    Man do you sound like my brother... and niether of us can figure how the other functions to this day.

    While your in there solving constraint-satisfaction problems, some of us are left to make these systems work for people that can't spell scheduling. Your math skills enhance your relationship to the machine in the way that works best for you.

    Granted calling Calculus useless in a monestary full of math monks is like spreading your cheeks for the Bulls in Pompolona and it begs a response, however to imply that there is only mathmatical resolution to the problems surrounding application development is stretching things as well.

    coreolyn (Probably more directed at my real brother so please don't take offense ;)

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