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Re: Programming & real life

by SamCG (Hermit)
on Dec 30, 2003 at 22:09 UTC ( #317790=note: print w/ replies, xml ) Need Help??

in reply to Programming & real life

No one seems to have mentioned the obvious: programming teaches you to think (and sometimes even speak and write) in a precise manner. As a programmer for a financial firm, I can't count the number of times someone from one of the business units has come to me with a request and I've had to tell them that what they just asked for wasn't what they actually wanted. As programmers, we care about details, and this meticulousness can carry over into our general thinking. How many times have you (as a programmer) heard some random bit of conversation and realized that what someone was saying wasn't accurate for one reason or another, and that there could be a complete semantic disconnect between the two parties because of some difference of interpretation. If you eavesdrop as much as I do, it's been pretty often. Sometimes this precision even goes to the extent of annoying and infuriating others. Nothingmuch's post, for example, uses 5 sets of parentheses in the first paragraph without confusing them (hrrmmmm. . . so programming doesn't exactly teach how to avoid run-on sentences. . .;))(not to say that the post was annoying (at least to me, though it could be to some)).

I think this is a good thing.

Don't get me wrong, I enjoy a good ambiguity now and then -- in a joke, or in a poem. And, if I need to, I can use ambiguities in normal speech as well, if I have a desire to mislead the person I'm speaking to (if I wish to do this, though, I prefer to make things ambiguous by simply leaving particular details unspoken and letting the listener come to the wrong conclusion (I happen to have also just gone through law school, so I know a bit about misleading without lying)). However, in general I am not inclined to use ambiguities.

Do other subjects teach this sort of thinking? While many subjects may rely on the same sort of attention to detail that programming does, few have as immediate an effect as writing and then attempting to run a program (after all, if you get a geometry proof wrong but think it's right, you wouldn't know -- if you write a program incorrectly, then it will (likely) do something unexpected when running). Also, I feel that for many, programming would be more immediately tangible than geometry (I don't mean to be short-shrifting geometry, it's obviously very useful). In programming one is actually creating something, while in geometry one is frequently simply proving something. Maybe if they taught geometry by getting kids to build houses. . .

Oh, and it's "planar".

Are you actually IN high school or recently graduated? Or do you just harbor a long-running grudge against high-school geometry? And, unless your Dad is completely unavailable, don't give up on your relationship with him -- it's only been a year or two!

Comment on Re: Programming & real life
Re: Re: Programming & real life
by bl0rf (Pilgrim) on Dec 31, 2003 at 20:40 UTC
    Learning calculus ( my favourite ) has led me to become meticulous about correct grammar and speech - rather than programming leading me to it. This is due to my teacher's continued demands that exact terminology be used. Working with calculus does have an immediate effect, lack of correct form or ambiguity on a test immediately lowers my mark :-)

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