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posted by martyb on Thursday September 03 2015, @09:23AM   Printer-friendly
from the ignorance-is-bliss dept.

Olga Khazan writes in The Atlantic that learning to program involves a lot of Googling, logic, and trial-and-error—but almost nothing beyond fourth-grade arithmetic.

Victoria Fine explains how she taught herself how to code despite hating math. Her secret? Lots and lots of Googling. "Like any good Google query, a successful answer depended on asking the right question. “How do I make a website red” was not nearly as successful a question as “CSS color values HEX red” combined with “CSS background color.” I spent a lot of time learning to Google like a pro. I carefully learned the vocabulary of HTML so I knew what I was talking about when I asked the Internet for answers."

According to Khazan while it’s true that some types of code look a little like equations, you don’t really have to solve them, just know where they go and what they do. "In most cases you can see that the hard maths (the physical and geometry) is either done by a computer or has been done by someone else. While the calculations do happen and are essential to the successful running of the program, the programmer does not need to know how they are done."

Khazan says that in order to figure out what your program should say, you’re going to need some basic logic skills and you’ll need to be skilled at copying and pasting things from online repositories and tweaking them slightly. "But humanities majors, fresh off writing reams of term papers, are probably more talented at that than math majors are."


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  • (Score: 5, Insightful) by Nerdfest on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:20AM

    by Nerdfest (80) on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:20AM (#231651)

    Very bad examples used. HTML and CSS is programming now? Flash was also mentioned in TFA I guess, so that's a bit better, but HTML and CSS is learning how to format a document, really. I'm not saying it's simple, but it's not programming.

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  • (Score: -1, Offtopic) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03 2015, @02:35PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03 2015, @02:35PM (#231764)

    Typesetting is a profession.

  • (Score: 3, Insightful) by quacking duck on Thursday September 03 2015, @02:45PM

    by quacking duck (1395) on Thursday September 03 2015, @02:45PM (#231776)

    The submission title uses the word code, but the summary uses both coding and programming. To my mind they are similar but distinct, the way geek and nerd are sometimes used synonymously by the public but have distinctions within the more knowledgable community.

    HTML is not programming, but it *is* coding. Literally applying code to make enclosed text look and behave differently than regular text. This means that people who used the old DOS-era, pre-WYSIWYG word processors were in a sense "coding", but that was purely formatting code; there was no code to turn text into a link, for example.

    Programming requires at least some logical branching like if/else conditions, and for that you need to at least be using Javascript.

  • (Score: 2) by joshuajon on Thursday September 03 2015, @03:57PM

    by joshuajon (807) on Thursday September 03 2015, @03:57PM (#231812)

    Animation coding can most definitely involve algebra, geometry, and even a basic understanding of calculus. Flash ActionScript comes to mind. Want to make a circle transform into an ellipse, and then an octagon? Try doing that without maths.