Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

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27 Replies - 7298 Views - Last Post: 10 September 2013 - 01:14 PM

#16 Ace26  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 06 April 2010 - 05:53 AM

In my opinion, both programming and mathematics require good logical aptitude; actually a more than average one. A good programmer and a good mathematician a both people who are logically sound.

A programmer might not be interested in mathematics but if he/she commits his mind to it, he'll definitely excel at it. Also a mathematician who gets the kicks from solving those complex sums will fall in love with programming as soon as he encounters it and realizes its logic-demanding similarity to mathematics.

In short, "good" programmers are logically sound people who work hard at being better at the art and not necessarily mathematically inclined personalities.
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#17 Lemur  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 06 April 2010 - 06:03 AM

The problem with extreme right-brain logical thinking is that it can easily be replaced by that of a computer in the years to come where as creativity will probably never be fully emulated.

A programmer that relies entirely on logical thinking and problem solving is doomed to fail unless they have a respective amount of creative drive to think of new concepts and new methods of doing things. The second you become stagnant in the computing industry is the same second that you become obsolete and effectively worthless. Those with logic are nothing without creativity and conversely the same can be said about the creatives.

It's not enough to be able to follow instructions anymore, to solve a basic problem. Computers can do these jobs and are getting increasingly more efficient at doing so.

Learn art, play an instrument, sketch, draw, write, anything to get some form of creativity going, because without it you won't stand a chance in the near future.

Don't believe me? Look what Turbo Tax did to accountants.

This post has been edited by Lemur: 06 April 2010 - 06:06 AM

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#18 xclite  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 06 April 2010 - 07:28 AM

The thing is, there are still accountants. Sometimes I think it wouldn't be a bad thing to have to compete for a job in software engineering.
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#19 depend3ncy  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 11 April 2010 - 04:13 PM

It has to do with logic, which is important in math and many other fields.
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#20 gehres  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 April 2010 - 06:37 PM

First,the most important thing for me is to know what I want. Once you have the end product/result down the math will come with enough time and problem solving. Second is you gotta like to solve problems.
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#21 MentalFloss  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 April 2010 - 11:41 PM

I'm a pretty good programmer and I am certainly not mathematically inclined.

The funny thing about saying something like "I'm a pretty good programmer" is that someone is always ready to shut you down. Regardless of all the possible nay-saying (and I have plenty of posts for you to form your case), yeah I'm pretty good.

I am not mathematically inclined at all. In fact, I'm probably mathematically retarded.

Has that ever stopped me in programming? Absolutely not. Programming is many things but one thing we can all agree on is its intrinsic ability to complicate and mystify on any level. Life is not math or programming or reading or writing or art or music or any single concept. Life is all of this rolled together. Life is about finding the balance between all of your interests and responsibilities and most of all, life is about learning more and more each day.

So, to anyone who says "I shun you for being unable to write a red-black tree from scratch" or "You suck at programming because you can't find the distance between geographical points, I say "I can learn."

You can learn - one day at a time. Nothing is impossible. Nothing is out of reach. You just haven't grabbed it yet.

Stop worrying about what you don't know today. Stop worrying about all the people who are better at it than you. Stop trying to find that missing piece to a self-constructed puzzle. It does not exist. The missing piece is just experience. It's all just information. You can learn information.

Work today - reward tomorrow.

Take care.
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#22 salindor  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 12 July 2011 - 04:52 PM

I guess it depends on what you consider good programming and what you want to do.

Personally I believe computer science to be an applied math. So when I was studying computer science and looked around almost everyone around me had some talent in math. In fact for awhile I believed as the title of the thread suggests- that all good programmers were naturally talented in math. I don't think that way anymore.

Lemur made a good point. I think the best programmers are ones who can use both sides of the brains to solve a problem. Bouncing back-n-forth between the logical and creative sides. Personally I tend to use creative for big picture and logical for details; but really as long as you can train yourself to use both parts of your brain to solve programming problems you will have a huge legs up over anyone who can only use one side or the other.

I have a reputation at work as being one of the fastest programmers around at the site. What I tell people I have todo in order to keep my speed up is the following (beyond knowing the basics) in order of importance:
- spend time doing something creative a week
- learn something new (doesn't even have to be related, nice thing about programming is it all can help)
- exercise (strange how an out of shape body affects the mind)
- practice (teach others, try and solve off the wall problems, etc)

Anyways just my two-sense.

Salindor

This post has been edited by salindor: 12 July 2011 - 04:52 PM

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#23 iansavell  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 July 2011 - 01:29 AM

One thing I've learned over the years is that computer scientists don't, by right, make good programmers. Some of the best programmers I've worked with have been engineers, chemists, geographers. And by extrapolation I'm sure many mathematicians are good programmers.

Why? Because the ultimate purpose of programming is not to make a great program, it is to make something that is useful in the real world, to real world people who are not programmers.

Years ago, when computers were tiny and slow, there was craft involved in writing tight, efficient code. On a huge project there's craft involved in writing collaboratively and with maximum re-use, plus an open style that is easy to debug and adapt. Those are programmers crafts. But like anything in this world the ultimate measure of success is how well the product meets the needs, or extends the capabilities, of the end user.

Take transport as a metaphor. Start carrying a pack, then put it on a sled, then add wheels, a horse, an engine, soon you have a car. Each is an improvement on its predecessor but unless you own a Ferrari or Rolls you don't marvel at the craftsmanship, you marvel at the speed, comfort, economy, reliability or whatever. And that is why engineers, chemist, geographers make good programmers. The best have an instinctive understanding of what their peers need to improve their lives. They can pick up programming along the way - you don't get to be any of those things without being able to read a book of instructions.

So - good programmers who write for mathematical problems are mathematically inclined, the rest may be good at maths because they studied it at school but it doesn't necessarily inform their craft.

Flame away!

Ian.
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#24 raziel_  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:18 AM

A bit a necro but i had this teacher that say this to me:
Any mathematician can be a programmer but not any programmer can be mathematician. I guess its true you can program as much as you want and to sux in mathematic if your job don`t requires you to do any hard mathematical calculations.
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#25 Brewer  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 July 2011 - 08:43 AM

View Postmacosxnerd101, on 05 April 2010 - 12:35 AM, said:

Many programmers are mathematically inclined, as programming and CS have foundations in mathematics.


I was talking to a CS professor at my university not too long ago and he told me that when he went to school here -- he was a CS major -- that there wasn't actually a Computer Science department, the Math department were the ones handing out the CS degrees.

Don't discount this, math is very important in programming. The fact is that most of what you do as a developer won't be mathematically intense, but math gives you the ability to think abstractly, which is something that most people can't do.
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#26 agsuresh  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 July 2011 - 09:53 AM

I have about 25 years of programming & teaching experience. Maths surely is important if you are writing Maths oriented programs. But the most important is the understanding of logic. Though one could say that these are two sides of the same coin, they are different. A person who is very good may not be good programmer and Vice Versa.

A programmer needs many other skills too depending on the type of application.

Most write programs that are used by someone else. Hence a programmer should be able to become a programmer as well as a user. Even the best written codes shall fail when used by others. Hence unless a programmer is not able to visualize and compensate for the mistakes or conditions on a realistic scenario, he is likely to end up a failure or go on correcting one problem or another. That is why Logic is far more important than Maths.

It is inevitable to have knowledge of advance maths if one is writing a Astronomical software.

Third factor is the ability to convert the requirements into a language oriented (limitations) code. Many a times simple mathematical puzzles will require extensive language / logical skills while it would be far more simpler to do the same manually using a calculator or excel sheet.

hence , language specific skils, Logic and ability to understand the clients is far more important than knowledge of Maths, unless it is highly math oriented program.
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#27 salindor  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 13 July 2011 - 04:09 PM

I guess I am the counter-example to the importance of language skills.

Natural langauges don't come naturally to me. Barely made it through english in high school and failed it twice in colledge. My high school spanish teacher only let me pass if I promised I wouldn't take any more spanish. Every year when the company does evaluations, my boss says I could use improvement in communication. Even typing this note takes me a couple revisits and I probably still have a sentence fragment or a mispelling somewhere in it.

Given all that, unless it is a mathematically unsolvable problem, give me enough time and montivation and I believe I can literally code anything.

Salindor
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#28 Origin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Are all good programmers mathematically inclined?

Posted 10 September 2013 - 01:14 PM

View PostLemur, on 06 April 2010 - 06:03 AM, said:

The problem with extreme right-brain logical thinking is that it can easily be replaced by that of a computer in the years to come where as creativity will probably never be fully emulated.

A programmer that relies entirely on logical thinking and problem solving is doomed to fail unless they have a respective amount of creative drive to think of new concepts and new methods of doing things. The second you become stagnant in the computing industry is the same second that you become obsolete and effectively worthless. Those with logic are nothing without creativity and conversely the same can be said about the creatives.

It's not enough to be able to follow instructions anymore, to solve a basic problem. Computers can do these jobs and are getting increasingly more efficient at doing so.

Learn art, play an instrument, sketch, draw, write, anything to get some form of creativity going, because without it you won't stand a chance in the near future.

Don't believe me? Look what Turbo Tax did to accountants.


Old thread, but I have to reply for the benefit for any who read.

I have practiced public tax accounting as a CPA for seven years.

What the writer of this reply has said about Turbo Tax is not true.

Yes, Turbo Tax has automated tax compliance, but that has had zero effect on CPA firms. The reason is that the types of individuals who would use Turbo Tax simply do not have sophisticated enough tax returns to warrant preparation from a CPA firm. They could not afford the fee, nor should they pay it because a program such as Turbo Tax, or a cheap tax service such as H&R Block, are more than adequate for their tax compliance needs.

While it may be true that discount tax preparers lost a little business due to the automation of tax compliance (such as H&R Block), even for them the impact was not that significant as they continue to this day with successful business models.

As with tax compliance needs, I suspect software development follows a similar trend. Automation of software development may serve very low-level needs, but it will never be able to replace the human element of reasoning, critical thinking and the sometimes subjective (e.g., emotional) element in decision making.
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