Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

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33 Replies - 5120 Views - Last Post: 02 January 2009 - 09:47 PM

Poll: Professional Programming (39 member(s) have cast votes)

Does professional programming require mathematical skills?

  1. Hell, Yes! (31 votes [79.49%])

    Percentage of vote: 79.49%

  2. Luckily, No! (8 votes [20.51%])

    Percentage of vote: 20.51%

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#1 trotski  Icon User is offline

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Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:23 AM

Does professional programming (ie making web browsers, and dy to day apps) require those mathematical skills as in our novice books? I bet not. Why would the guy who designes Firefox (just for example, I know its community work) need to know those polynomials (they suck)? I mean, its just a matter of creativity to put all those components together. And to use functions dealing with IP and stuff.

I have been consoling myself by this unproved theory that pro programming does NOT require mathematical skills (and those required in novice books are just to keep your mind from rusting). Please for the sake of my life, prove this theory, or if I am unlucky, just reject it.

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#2 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:27 AM

See Math/Programming Career intertwine thread here

I thnk math is very important. But that's just me. It's been established over in that thread that advanced math is not necessary for most business apps.

I'm going to vote yes anyway though.
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#3 ayman_mastermind  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:43 AM

Computer programming is not all about maths, maths is important in computer programming but to a certain extent. The more maths you know the better your programs may since maths practice makes the mind more able to understand complex stuff, so when complexity enters into programs, maths starts to play its role. But the main role of maths is the theory of computer programming and computer science which is mainly based in maths and is called a mathematical science. But in practice, when you write simple everyday programs for solving everyday problems you don't that huge maths knowledge, but if you are writing a whole operating system program in C++ then definitely you will need to know maths lots of maths (algebra and calculus). But for me, i dont use much maths in my programming, i use the very basic maths functions which is not a problem to most of us. After all,computer programming is all about logic, if you have logic then maths wont be an obstacle into writing a program, as long as you have the logic you can write programs without any need to advanced mathematics. ;)
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#4 skyhawk133  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:46 AM

I'm going to move this to our Corner Cubicle forum as I see a good serious discussion here. Don't want any of our less mature members to hijack the conversation.
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#5 trotski  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 08:49 AM

That's what I think (what ayman_mastermind said). But I obviously have no match for Linus Torvalds, forget OS. Just making a web browser won't require Maths? Or a game?

I am afraid of programming in sense that I am not good at making algorithms or probably because I am only 14. I currently take Biology, Chemistry and Physics in school and it has been six months of me in high school. School is a big hurdle in my programming carrier and beleive me I haven't been able to read more than 150 pages of my first book (and 25th dec marks my one year of programming). Is it because I am overburdened by sciences? I am good at math (I dn't remember a test when I lost a mark in Maths/AddMaths test until the final exam that took away 30 marks :). No, :(.

My parents have given me open choice to decide my carrier but I am bad at choice.
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#6 ayman_mastermind  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:44 AM

trotski, writing a simple game(of course not with complex 3d graphics) or writing a webbrowser program of course wont require any maths, they may require some very basic maths that is easy and we all now, they will require more logic creativity and determination. If you like computers and programming in general then you have to choose a major that involves computers. If you like computers and maths then you will have to go for CS or Computer Engineering, if you like computers and hate maths then you can major in MIS or IT for instance which involve computing and programming but with less maths in them making them ideal for people who like computers and hate maths... It is not bad if you read 150 pages of a programming book, not bad at all, since you are still a beginner and still 14! it is much better to start computer programming before college, just as i did(i started java programming at 15) and i am now in college majoring in MIS and taking high grades in CS courses because i already have a strong computer background which i built by myself...
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#7 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:46 AM

I think the word algorithm may scare people. It's just a set of instructions for solving a problem.

Consider the following directions for making a PB/J sandwich:

1. Get peanut butter/jelly
2. Open Jar
3. Spread on bread
4. Repeat

That's an algorithm.
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#8 ayman_mastermind  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:53 AM

KYA, that's a very simple one lol, it just illustrates the form but algorithms are much complex of course. Yet i still think that people shouldn't get afraid of algorithms since algorithms have been invented to write programs more easily and allow the programmer to know what is needed in the program and show him where is heading in his program, for me algorithms are much like maps for writing a program...

This post has been edited by ayman_mastermind: 23 December 2008 - 09:53 AM

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#9 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:54 AM

View Postayman_mastermind, on 23 Dec, 2008 - 09:53 AM, said:

KYA, that's a very simple one lol, it just illustrates the form but algorithms are much complex of course. Yet i still think that people shouldn't get afraid of algorithms since algorithms have been invented to write programs more easily and allow the programmer to know what is needed in the programmer and show him where is heading in his program, for me algorithms are much like maps for writing a program...


They don't have to be. Just because a solution is complex doesn't make it "more" of an algorithm then a simple one.

Case in point sorts. A simple bubble sort is just as much of an algorithm mas a merge sort is no?
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#10 ayman_mastermind  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 09:58 AM

KYA, yeah you are definitely right in that... :)
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#11 GWatt  Icon User is online

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:00 AM

You don't have to know multi-variable calculus to write good programs, but knowing mathematical principles is very important. Quite often a slightly complicated equation or two can replace the need for countless if statements.
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#12 Core  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:23 AM

I'd say that it all depends on the specific programming domain. If you are in web development, most likely you will need less math, comparing to a game engine developer. However, math is essential for general understanding of some algorithms and I think that every software/web developer should have a solid math foundation.
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#13 bflosabre91  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 10:30 AM

for most programming, i think only basic math skills would be required. but then again i dont believe that higher level math is a waste even if you will never use what you learn in a programming job. its all about the high level of thinking that math required you to use. and the problem solving skills learned with math, that is the reason i believe math is essential for programming. when presented a problem in math, you gotta figure it out for yourself. same thing applies in programming.
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#14 baavgai  Icon User is online

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 11:07 AM

View PostKYA, on 23 Dec, 2008 - 10:46 AM, said:

Consider the following directions for making a PB/J sandwich:

1. Get peanut butter/jelly
2. Open Jar
3. Spread on bread
4. Repeat

That's an algorithm.


1. Get peanut butter/jelly
Yep.

2. Open Jar
Smashes jar on ground, tis open.

3. Spread on bread
What?  The jar? The stuff all over the ground? Do I just rub the bread against it or is there a tool I use?

4. Repeat
Right, get me another jar...



My point, other than abusing KYA, ;) is the nature of instruction sets. Normal thinking humans that don't drool on themselves can take basic instructions like the ones above and reasonably extrapolate and fill in the blanks. With computers, there can't be any blanks.

Computers are dumb as dirt. They're like Rainman, on Meth, with Matches. Tell them very precisely what to do and they'll do it with amazing speed and accuracy. If you're not precise then they'll probably light themselves on fire.

Most math is "functional", most computer languages are procedural. ( Hmm... there are no pure functional languages on this site, are there? ) Computer programmers tend to prefer procedural, it's simple and makes sense. It's also, notably, how computers think; one operation at a time.

Oops, a little OT? Right, I've posted this before, but... Most computer problems aren't math intensive and you don't need to be particularly good at math to be an excellent programmer. There are some computer problems, like 3D modeling, that are painfully math intensive. But that's more a function of the problem than the act of programming.
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#15 snoj  Icon User is offline

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Re: Professional Programming -- Hell of Maths?

Posted 23 December 2008 - 11:25 AM

I'll have to vote yes on this one.

While much of my programming is to automate some process and doesn't require huge amounts of math, I do find time and again that math really does help.

For instance, I've found that using math and boolean logic greatly simplifies what otherwise would be huge if..elseif..else blocks down to only a few lines. However by simple I don't necessarily mean simple to understand on first reading, but that the code is more compact and is more flexible in terms of future additions and in how it can handle variations in input and still get the work done.
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