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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: 2) by frojack on Thursday September 03 2015, @03:37PM

    by frojack (1554) Subscriber Badge on Thursday September 03 2015, @03:37PM (#231800) Journal

    Give me the programmer than knows when to consult stackoverflow any day, rather than the one who's too proud to seek out other people's experience.

    True, Stack is great for the odd little things you don't quite find documented clearly, or are non-typical things. Seldom useful for core problems.

    (My last use involved converting an established blocking socket to non-blocking for the duration of a connect, and then converting it back again once the connect completes.)

    Still, hardly your average use case, and nothing to do with mathematics.

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