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Re: Programming and math

by benn (Vicar)
on Aug 09, 2003 at 14:44 UTC ( #282418=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Programming and math

I'll try to keep this short...:)

1) My gut instinct is to say "no" (despite the fact that I studied maths to degree level :)). "Programming Well" involves many different skills, some almost orthogonal to the ones traditionally regarded as being mathematical - personally, I'd say that the ability to *spell* is nearly as important as the ability to count. :) The 'higher maths' side of programming is, I think, quite rare in the 'real world' of user interfaces and database munging - even in the wild and wonderful world of 3D graphics etc., familiarity with basic trig. and matrices is about as much as you need. There are many many 'intuitive' programmers out there who can produce wonderful algorithms, but would have great difficulty in showing mathematical proofs for them.

2) Again - no. Like many things, it depends on what is taught, and how. I have no doubt there are some marvellous CS courses out there...but I often recount the story of when I was interviewing programmers - I had an applicant with an MSc in CS , who got confused when I started asking about boolean algebra. He thought "they might have done something about it" as part of his Visual Basic module...:) 5 years ago, I used to joke about graduates with a degree in MS Word...then I met one.

3) Perl :) Seriously though, to my eyes, they're all pretty much alike until you get deep enough to appreciate the differences (if that makes sense...). It's a bit like playing musical instruments...if you learn music rather than just a specific instrument, then you'll be able to pick up any instrument and play it - they're all just machines for expressing what's already in your head. Similarily, the process of breaking down a real-world problem into a series of code-able routines goes on in your head, not your fingers. Once you've cracked the problem, you can use whatever language is to nearest to hand, as it were.

Hope this helps,

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