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I Just Want to Program! Don't Make Me Learn Math!

By DanLM ·
http://www.oreillynet.com/onlamp/blog/2007/05/i_just_want_to_program_dont_ma.html

Now, I have just read this article on the Orielly web site. And I have to say, I disagree. And for several reasons.

As my post to the article states, in the business world Math is a requirement. Everything from knowing various accounting principles(its math) to being able to understand the equations of some statistical requirement(insurance). Continuing this further, when working for a workers compensation state agency. We calculated the amount we would pay on any medical procedures based on a percentage of Medicare with this figure being worked off the last years percentage if I remember correctly.

In my experience, if you could not understand various equations. You could not fulfill the requirements of the task. This does not take into account where a person may come out of school and go into various other programming backgrounds(science, graphical).

I don't understand how math should not be a requirement. A schools job is to broadly prepare you for as many possible work environment as possible. If they do not provide a math background to your education, they severely limit your possibilities in what backgrounds you may want to choose.

Edited to add: If you read any of georges columns, you will notice he does statistics constantly on the various hardware/software that he tests. I don't know how reliant it is anymore, but I use to read application dumps when being on call at 3am. Not being able to convert hex to decimal and vice versa would have been an issue. I have also seen db admins use math to find the position of a record within a database when their was integrity problems. How can a Computer science major not have a math background>

Dan

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Fully agreed with Dan

by ritu825825 In reply to I Just Want to Program! D ...

Dan, you are absolutely correct. Because in each and every scenerio of the programming, mathematics is involved in some way or the other. However, a programmer may or may not be the perfect in maths. But his logics should be clear about what he/she is going to program.

Developing program is not just putting the ingredients to the software. This requires a lot of optimization in terms of execution time and memory management. For this you have to again follow some or the other rules and formulae or the algorithms which again contributes to the mathematics.

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Development without math.. Think again

by azdunes1969 In reply to Fully agreed with Dan

To those of you who believe that math is not an important factor of programming I would like you to reconsider your thinking. If you dig right down to the core of things you will realize that mathematics is the equivalent of what DNA is to humans. The problem with this argument is that ?programming? has been redefined over the years and today?s applications developers have been spoiled by having vast quantities of validated libraries handed to them on a silver platter. How can a triangle or any shape for that matter be drawn to the screen, be resized, or manipulated without knowing basic trigonometry? Many of today?s developers would say they would locate a library to handle this task but who develops the libraries? A programmer develops the library! CRC, MD5, compression, encryption, 3D engines, particle engines, graphics manipulation, physics engines are just a few examples that are heavily reliant on math and for you kids out there who are interested in game development? I hate to tell you this but you better start brushing up on math because AI is once again extremely math intensive.
I am not saying that an individual with basic knowledge of math cant develop a basic application however a computer science major must have a strong background in mathematics otherwise new technology is going to creep to a halt!

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The kicker here is I have no degree in comp si, and I still see this

by DanLM In reply to I Just Want to Program! D ...

I went to tech school way back in 1979 in Pittsburgh, and they required math course's be involved. I thought they were boring at the time, but they at least taught me the fundamentals of what is used on the job. If anything, I wish I had a better math background. I think it would have made so many things easier to understand.

As it is, at least with what little background I do have in math. I am able to. 1). Understand the requirements. and 2). As sandy said, independently verify my results.

Dan

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Well there are two sides to the math

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to The kicker here is I have ...

If there are formulae involved in the requirements, then how can you code something, if for instance if you can't do basic algebra.
I mean you don't have to be able to prove the equation, you should be able to manipulate it though.

It's domain based, branches of maths, matrices, geometry, trig, statistics, sets, groups, functional analysis etc. I've used all of these from time to time.

I always count myself lucky to working on something that easily translates to a proven mathematical formula, makes the job much easier.

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Without a sufficient understanding of the formulae, ...

by deepsand In reply to Well there are two sides ...

one lacks the means to assuredly select either the proper formula or data.

For example, I am able to do such for certain calculations used by the insurance industry only by virtue of my having a solid understanding of actuarial mathematics.

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Almost total agreement

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to Without a sufficient [u]u ...

I could code the application of the formulae, but someone would have to tell me what to do, ie I'd be translating.
Never been a big fan of that sort of development myself.

I mean if I said calculate out v = u + at
it's doesn't say crap about what v, u, a and t are, what units they should be in....

That's the applied side of the math though, given v, u and t, if I can't solve for a, that's a pure math issue.

Knowing how to add up and what to add up are different animals.

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That's why systems analysis & programming used to be wholly ...

by deepsand In reply to Almost total agreement

separate functions, performed by different people.

With the advent of the programmer/analyst, it frequently becomes a case of the blind leading the blind.

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Done both

by Tony Hopkinson In reply to That's why systems analys ...

But where I was performing the analyst role, I had the domain knowledge. There are always a few impementation wrinkles, but a stock control system is a stock control system. I've never worked in insurance though, so I would be stuffed without guidance.

The maths wouldn't phase me though. That would be an island of certainty in a sea of the unknown.

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Actually, it ws the split of analysis and programming ...

by Wayne M. In reply to That's why systems analys ...

Originally, programming was skill used by an expert in a problem domain as a tool to solve a problem. It was the misguided notion that programmers could be ignorant of the business area, that programmers could be handed an all inclusive list of requirements, and left alone in a corner that has caused the decline in the usefulness of software.

I have seen far too many problems with business analysts being the "communicators" and programmers hiding behind documents and e-mail. If programmers are going to do their job, they need to get out and see the users and the users' work environments on a first hand basis.

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That is what I find so frustrating about all of the off-shoring.

by daveo2000 In reply to Actually, it ws the split ...

(That, and the occasional loss of a job.)

When we move the developers away from the customer (whether a different floor, building, state or country) they get farther removed from what the code is supposed to do. RAD becomes impossible and QA takes days instead of hours. We find ourselves having code tested by one group in one time zone, then submitting the errors to developers in another time zone. The result is that one small fix that takes 2 minutes of a programmer's time takes a full 24 hours to get back to him as working or still faulty.

<sigh>

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