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#1 olimoli123  Icon User is offline

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Math and Software Development?

Posted 13 April 2013 - 02:40 AM

Hey there guys!
Im currently in 11th grade here in Australia and in 12th grade we have to take exans which will qualify us for different courses.
Now im curious whether or not software development would require skill in maths as i am absolutely terrible at it haha so i might drop it.
Any inputs ? :) Thanks
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#2 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 13 April 2013 - 03:40 AM

You can certainly program without much knowledge of maths. I started programming at the age of 9 when the most maths I had done was simple arithmetic. Once I had pieced together enough knowledge, I managed to make some simple games which is really all I was interested in doing.

Don't get me wrong, maths is really useful for programming. It's just for a lot of applications it is not necessary. For those where it is necessary (e.g. 3D graphics) you will find that there is often a library that exists to do the heavy lifting for you.

I think that you might find that programming improves your skill in maths. Programming is really a mathematical discipline. It's just that there isn't much obvious overlap with the algebra and calculus you study in school.

This post has been edited by cfoley: 13 April 2013 - 01:59 PM

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#3 lordofduct  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 13 April 2013 - 09:52 AM

Math isn't needed.

Math certainly helps.

And I don't mean in a direct application of maths for like physics or 3d graphics... but for the logical thought process that math trains you in.

Note though, what this may imply more than that math helps you program, is that one who picks up math quickly may also pick up programming quickly. For example I was a math major in college when I dropped out, I then picked up programming in my garage, and within 3 months I had a job. This could have been because A: my math training prepared me, or that B: the part of my brain that liked math also liked programming.

In the end...

it most certainly wouldn't hurt.

will definitely help.

and maths can be applied to many other things as well.

This post has been edited by lordofduct: 13 April 2013 - 09:53 AM

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#4 depricated  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 15 April 2013 - 05:21 AM

As I see it, math services a specific use aside from its purpose in calculating in a program. That is, it is a measure of your capacity to solve problems. Only one measure, granted, and there are other topics that are important in raising your ability to perceive and overcome problems. Programming is, imo, largely a matter of problem solving. Not necessarily math, but determining the best method to achieve the results you are expecting.

That said, an earlier point that you'll usually have libraries that accomplish any maths issues you have, is pretty much spot on. I'm still new myself, and my scope of knowledge isn't particularly broad, but my experience supports this.
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#5 jon.kiparsky  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 15 April 2013 - 06:51 AM

It's absolutely true that most programmers don't do a lot of calculations as part of their work. That is, most programmers aren't solving for that or reducing that or taking the derivative of the other - to repeat what's been said, there are libraries for that.
However, that's not what anyone ever means by "math is important for programming". We're talking about thinking mathematically, not doing arithmetic. That is, manipulating concrete models of abstract concepts. By "concrete models", I want you to understand "firm, well-defined representations with fixed rules" - programming languages either fall into this category, or they're PHP.* When I say "abstract concepts" I want you to get the idea that we're talking about generalizable ideas. You have to be able to think rigidly about fluid concepts, and vice versa - this is the essence of mathematical thinking, and it's a skill that every programmer requires.

Basically, you can't even do the most basic programming without understanding languages and algorithms, which absolutely require mathematical thinking in this sense, and as languages move to incorporate more and more aspects of Lisp-like progamming, thinking concretely about abstractions will be more and more necessary.

Fortunately, it's almost certain that you're better at math than you think you are. Most of what you get in school is basically successive refinements on arithmetic (with a brief pause for some plane geometry). This represents only a tiny fragment of what math is.

* if you require a smiley-face here, insert one

This post has been edited by jon.kiparsky: 15 April 2013 - 08:06 AM

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#6 cfoley  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 15 April 2013 - 08:03 AM

Quote

However, that's not what anyone ever means by "math is important for programming". We're talking about thinking mathematically


Absolutely! I suspect (without evidence) that solving problems through programming teaches mathematical thinking better than maths class.

Basically, if you want to do programming, do programming. If you want to do maths, do maths. Whichever you do, there's a good chance you will end up dabbling in the other somewhere along the way.

What would be absolutely crazy is to want to do programming but to choose maths instead.

That said, not doing some maths at school can be conspicuous in its absence on a CV. That could do serious harm to your prospects in any professional career. Where I come from English and Maths are essential high school subjects and employers expect you to pass both.
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#7 olimoli123  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and Software Development?

Posted 15 April 2013 - 03:53 PM

Thanks to everyone for your responses :)
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