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Re: Programming & real lifeby jonadab (Parson) 
on Dec 30, 2003 at 19:29 UTC ( #317747=note: print w/replies, xml )  Need Help?? 
The reason for this is that it is, in his opinion, too near to reality to be truely generalized. If we hadn't learnt plannar (is that correct?) geometry, but instead applied a different set of rules to a different symbolic universe, somewhat less similar to ours (like a two dimensional one that is actually shaped like a donut, for example), perhaps the tools we have acquired would have been more easily used against other aspects of life, having nothing to do with maths at all. Yep, he's a mathematician alright. This is *exactly* how mathematicians think: How can we generalize this so that it is applicable to other things besides the traditional applications? Let's define subtraction entirely in terms of addition, so that if we redefine addition we have subtraction too, for free. Then let's develop a new class of numbers (or, if you prefer, objects) that aren't remotely similar to traditional natural or real numbers, and then let's define an "addition" operation on them that's isomorphic to standard arithmetic addition... we'll do the same thing for multiplication, and then let's generalize this whole process so that we can talk about any given pair of addition/multiplication operatons on any given set as a Group... then let's take these Group concepts and apply them to electrical engineering, art, philosophy, literature, ... anything *but* arithmetic. programming provided me with immensely useful tools of abstraction, perception and attitude towards many practical problems. There are some very strong relationships between programming and math. I've just been reading Hofstadter's book <cite>Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid</cite>, and the author (who really wants to talk about Artificial Intelligence but has to delve into other areas to make his points) draws parallels (actually, a fullblown isomorphism) betweem a formal system in math and a Turingequivalent programming language. (In particular, the chapter on BlooP and FlooP and GlooP is of interest. See also the notes on my scratchpad about this, which may or may not eventually become a node.) In other words, anything that can be done in the one can be done in the other, though it may be more or less convenient to do so. All of that to say, programming and math have a great deal in common, and if one is applicable to a problem you can expect the other to be applicable as well. (Well, not quite; some forms of modern math do not fit into formal systems and so programming may not be able to handle them. But most of the math you've probably had up to this point is probably not in this category.) Basically... Do you guys think that programming has as much, or perhaps even more to give to mind in need of general education, not specific knowledge, than something like geometry? You should study the geometry. If you have a mind for programming, you should be able to enjoy the geometry as well. If the teachers and textbooks you've had haven't made it come alive for you, try to find some other books on the subject that are more suitable. Yes, the programming has as much to offer, but the geometry is another way of looking at things, and the added flexibility of being able to think in terms of both will be very beneficial. You should study both  and if you enjoy one, it should be possible to enjoy the other as well, given the right approach. Like I said, find a different book or a different tutor or something, but don't give up on math. Math can be very cool, if you find the right approach to it.
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