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View Full Version : Born to program?



velious
04-22-2006, 02:58 AM
If you were never good in math as a student (High school), would programming as a career be a dead end fantasy?

your thoughts...

thanks :)

jkd
04-22-2006, 04:54 AM
If you ever wanted to be a *good* programmer, then yes, it is a dead end fantasy. However, that doesn't stop thousands of people who claim to be professionals from trying.

Math is absolutely crucial. From designing algorithms (asymptotic behaviors = calculus) to computer graphics (linear algebra), you just can't get anywhere without a good knowledge.

However, don't let that dismay you. People are invariably better at math than they claim (even to themselves). Thus, if you've programmed a bit already, and feel like you have a knack for it, odds are you are a budding mathematician as well. Math is/was never about formulas you learn in class and how to use them; it's all about a mindset (a way of approaching problems) and understanding what's going on -- which is (not by coincidence) very similar to the computer scientist mindset. So don't let an inability to recall mountains of formulas (which is how most high school math classes seem to be taught, unfortunately) lead you to think that you're not a good mathematician.

Spookster
04-22-2006, 05:20 AM
Math is absolutely crucial. From designing algorithms (asymptotic behaviors = calculus) to computer graphics (linear algebra), you just can't get anywhere without a good knowledge.


I would agree that math is crucial but I would disagree on the level of math needed. Nothing more than basic algebra is needed the majority of the time for most programming. It really depends on what you are working on. If you are designing financial or statistical type software then you would probably need a higher level of math for portions of the design or if you are designing software to control the flight path of a rocket then yes you definitely need a good handle on upper level math. But for the most part basic algebra is sufficient. At work I have designed software to simulate military smart guided weapons and radio communication systems and i've not needed anything more than basic algebra. But those are just two small modules of software that I work with. Other parts require much upper level math when computing weapon impact points or other miscellaneious aeronautical computations. In that case we have one or two other engineers that work on those parts of the software.

So is upper level math crucial? Not necessarily. Would it be beneficial to learn? Maybe and probably.

felgall
04-22-2006, 10:26 AM
Being good at mathematics does not necessarily mean that the person would make a good programmer. The reverse is also true. It all depends on what programs you need to write. If you are given the task of writing a program to calculate some complex mathematical formula then the person giving you the task should give you the formula and you only need to know how to translate it into the code used by your chosen programming language. You don't necessarily need to understand what the formula means.

TrackStar
04-24-2006, 07:22 PM
High school math??
Completely unrelated - most people don't give a hoot about high school stuff... After that, you find out what you like, and you get good at it, programming or anything else.

SpirtOfGrandeur
04-24-2006, 07:53 PM
I would agree that math is crucial but I would disagree on the level of math needed. Nothing more than basic algebra is needed the majority of the time for most programming. It really depends on what you are working on. If you are designing financial or statistical type software then you would probably need a higher level of math for portions of the design or if you are designing software to control the flight path of a rocket then yes you definitely need a good handle on upper level math. But for the most part basic algebra is sufficient. At work I have designed software to simulate military smart guided weapons and radio communication systems and i've not needed anything more than basic algebra. But those are just two small modules of software that I work with. Other parts require much upper level math when computing weapon impact points or other miscellaneious aeronautical computations. In that case we have one or two other engineers that work on those parts of the software.

So is upper level math crucial? Not necessarily. Would it be beneficial to learn? Maybe and probably.

As an entry level programmer you are absolutely correct. You have to remember that us programmers use math every day that a lot of people cannot grasp; sorting algorithms, algorithm optimization, graph theory, ect.

Yes there is usually some one in the company that can do this, but if you cannot understand the basic principles of algebra how are you ever going to understand any thing that is based off of algebra or its basic principles?

Spookster
04-24-2006, 08:20 PM
As an entry level programmer you are absolutely correct. You have to remember that us programmers use math every day that a lot of people cannot grasp; sorting algorithms, algorithm optimization, graph theory, ect.

Yes there is usually some one in the company that can do this, but if you cannot understand the basic principles of algebra how are you ever going to understand any thing that is based off of algebra or its basic principles?

By upper level I was referring to Calculus and Physics. You should definitely know and understand Algebra. As for sorting algorithms and algorithm optimization and all of the other fun stuff I learned in college I have yet to use or apply any of those concepts where I work. Mostly because the software I have to work with was written very poorly a few decades ago and it would take too much work to improve it. It would be easier to just rewrite everything.

JamieR
04-25-2006, 12:37 AM
Well I'm NEVER going to make a good programmer then...I absolutely hate maths, and I can't wait until sixth form in September when I never have to do another maths lesson again. I just can't hack it and understand stuff like Algebra or whatever, so heck it if I'm ever gonna become a good programmer :D

I'm always up for a challenge and willing to try anything new when it comes to maths or whatever, to help me try and expand my ability and knowledge, however I've never been good with numbers so I don't think I ever will be.

Good luck to me!

jkd
04-25-2006, 04:20 AM
I've never been good with numbers so I don't think I ever will be.

Then you're in luck! Math isn't about numbers when you get down to it.

Nightfire
04-25-2006, 04:53 AM
I failed in maths, and can still 'program' (well code in php and do some c++). Been doing it for years with only hitting a few dead ends and then finding other routes. I guess programming is mainly about having common sense and being able to find solutions to problems

NancyJ
04-25-2006, 09:42 AM
For the majority of programs you will never need more maths than you learnt in primary school. (yes we did algebra at primary school :p)
To be able to program that is all you need. (unless as previously mentioned you're programming maths/physics related software)

SO why do most computing courses have maths as a requirement? Well its not about the maths, the numbers and formulas you learn at school. Its about a trained logical mind. Its about being able to grasp abstract concepts and solve problems in an efficient way. Maths is one of the closest subjects to computing in the way it teaches you to think. If you are good at maths then you have the potential to be good at programming.



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