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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: 1) by loic on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:48AM

    by loic (5844) on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:48AM (#231664)

    A computer, well, computes, sure you have to understand what you functionally want it to do for you, but god forbids, you do not have to understand the maths involved in most cases. The most blatant example is that generally, when a developer needs to apply a well known math formula, he just downloads a reliable and well tested library which does it perfectly.

    You use the actually maths only when you need crazier performance than what all the known libraries already provide you with. And even in that case, low level optimization is not even maths.

    So let's not mix up data scientists with regular coders.

  • (Score: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04 2015, @09:23AM

    by Anonymous Coward on Friday September 04 2015, @09:23AM (#232181)

    You seem to equate mathematics with computation and formulas for functions. But mathematics is much more than that.