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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: 0) by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03 2015, @08:17PM

    by Anonymous Coward on Thursday September 03 2015, @08:17PM (#231938)

    Gödel's incompleteness theorem does not mean what you think it means.

    Math is dependent on logic. Logic is not dependent on math. For math to work it must be logical. Logic works without any use of math, it is merely a convenient medium. Anything else is ego-stroking.

  • (Score: 2) by melikamp on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:51PM

    by melikamp (1886) on Thursday September 03 2015, @10:51PM (#232017) Journal

    IMHO subs does understand the incompleteness just fine. And you gotta tell us which logic you are talking about: the nebulous philosophical concept or the formal mathematical one. The former one is not needed by math at all, and the latter one, like I said above, has produced a very limited impact so far.

    Going back to what subs said, Gödel's result did crush the last remaining hope of deriving interesting mathematical facts from logical principles alone. Incompleteness basically says that even when equipped with an infinite (but recursively enumerable) set of axioms, a first order system is incapable of settling some questions about natural number arithmetic, let alone anything more fancy. I would even step back and say that talking about recursion already presupposes a lot of math, so all you really can do as a 100% pure logician is come up with statements like "for all x and for all y, either x < y or it is not the case that x < y". Sure, that's math too, but not nearly all of it ;)

    • (Score: 2) by subs on Friday September 04 2015, @01:00AM

      by subs (4485) on Friday September 04 2015, @01:00AM (#232062)

      Thank you for capturing my thoughts exactly and let me say I admire your willingness to engage with obviously dense AC.