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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 fritsd on Friday September 04 2015, @02:26PM

    by fritsd (4586) on Friday September 04 2015, @02:26PM (#232252) Journal

    I think you're completely correct.

    I remember an anecdote from a maths student, decades ago, so maybe I remember it wrong.

    Can you still do the long division [] that you learned in primary school? Then read on & shiver..

    He told me, that in the first month of the first year of undergraduate Mathematics study, their most important "stumbling block" lecture was something called "Introduction to Mathematics".

    They had a lecture about long division, with examples.

    The homework was, to *prove formally* why the algorithm always worked and terminated (for natural numbers, with a remainder, etc.).

    Those students who couldn't do that by next week, were informed that they'd better switch studies to something easier, because they didn't "have what it takes" to continue their Mathematics study.

    I would find that a very difficult homework assignment.

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