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How much math?

P: n/a
I decided I need to understand math more to help me with programming.
Not to mention, eventually in my degree plan I will need to do it
anyway. How much math have people in this forum taken, and how much has
it helped thier programming?

Xeys

Jul 23 '05 #1
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12 Replies


P: n/a
xeys_00 wrote:
I decided I need to understand math more to help me with programming.
Not to mention, eventually in my degree plan I will need to do it
anyway. How much math have people in this forum taken, and how much has
it helped thier programming?

Xeys


That 100%-ish depends on what you want to do. You don't really need any
practical experience in math when writing some GUI frontend. But then,
it's a good thing if you know what e.g. Big-O notation means if you're
dealing with algorithms (and even in GUI programming you sooner or later
have to sort or search collections, and by then you should know which
algorithm to pick).

Of course, in general, programming languages are similar to the "math
language" in terms of formalisms. But you can lern those formalisms
without being a math genius.

If however you want to e.g. deal with computer graphics, linear algebra
is your friend.

But in general, I'd say: It depends (I didn't need any math knowledge to
learn C++).

--
Matthias Kaeppler
Jul 23 '05 #2

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xeys_00 wrote:
I decided I need to understand math more to help me with programming.
Not to mention, eventually in my degree plan I will need to do it
anyway. How much math have people in this forum taken, and how much has it helped thier programming?


there are many talanted programmers who do not have a mathematical
background. I have fairly mathematical background and I don't notice
needing it much on a day to day basis for programming. On the other
hand I do think it helps to organise your thoughts and sometimes when
analysing particularly gnarly problems. On the gripping hand, the
amount of mathematics needed depends what you are doing. Analysis of
algorithms, graphics and other matematical heavy domains.

Then there's my pet subject, proving programs correct (in a hobby
sort of way rather than in day to day prctice I'm afraid)).
Maintaining invarients etc. There you need mathematics.
--
Nick Keighley
"Programming is one of the most difficult branches of
applied mathematics; the poorer mathematicians had
better remain pure mathematicians."
Edsgar W. Dijkstra

Jul 23 '05 #3

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xeys_00 wrote:
I decided I need to understand math more to help me with programming.
Not to mention, eventually in my degree plan I will need to do it
anyway. How much math have people in this forum taken, and how much has
it helped thier programming?


I took Calculus four times, and got a lower grade each time.

(There's a rate of change for you!)

Then I got a gig programming (deep breath) Zhegalkin Polynomials definining
an attractor space mapped onto the duals of permutahedra, and learned that
European grade schools, east of England, teach Leibnitz Integrals first,
before Calculus, making the Calculus absurdly easy...

BTW this question would work best on news:comp.programming , because it's
technology neutral. As I'm sure several others here will politely remind
you.

--
Phlip
http://industrialxp.org/community/bi...UserInterfaces
Jul 23 '05 #4

P: n/a
xeys_00 wrote:
I decided I need to understand math more to help me with programming.
Not to mention, eventually in my degree plan I will need to do it
anyway. How much math have people in this forum taken, and how much has
it helped thier programming?

Xeys


As everyone says, it depends what you want to do, though I do think that
developing the skills of mathematical reasoning is quite generally
useful to the task of program design. I've always seen a definite
parallel between structuring a mathematical proof and structuring an
algorithm or program.

Personally, I had a pretty strong math background before I began any
computer science, and this led me naturally to the study of algorthms
and complexity. Since this is much of what I do professionally, it was
a logical path. Moreover, the people who struggle with these subjects
are quite often the ones who lack mathematical experience, so this is
something to bear in mind if you plan to follow this route.

Regardless of application, all programmers need a certain mathematical
facility to evaluate the trade-offs of varying design choices. However
for the most part this is pretty basic stuff. You don't need linear
algebra to understand the difference between O(n^2) and O(n log n).

So what's the upshot of all this? If you want to work in a specialized
area, graphics or numerics, e.g., then of course you need to take the
relevant specialized math courses. Otherwise, concentrate on discrete
math (I believe that's what it's commonly called), which covers most of
the basics necessary to be a mathetmatically-competent programmer. If
you have time, take a theoretical treatment of linear algebra, in part
because it has a good number of practical uses, and also because it will
hone your logical thought process.
Jul 23 '05 #5

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I often tell people that if they hate "word problems" in math, they'll
probably hate programming, or at least the analysis/design stages, which
is arguably the most important part. After all, analyzing a problem and
designing a solution is basically a big "word problem". Usually with not
enough words, and with the given words being too vague. :-(

--
Jon Bell <jt****@presby.edu> Presbyterian College
Dept. of Physics and Computer Science Clinton, South Carolina USA
Jul 23 '05 #6

P: n/a
Jon Bell wrote:
I often tell people that if they hate "word problems" in math


Please distinguish "unable to do word problems" from "hate them".

;-)

--
Phlip
http://industrialxp.org/community/bi...UserInterfaces
Jul 23 '05 #7

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Believe me, those who don't have background on mathematics but claim
to be
talented programmers do have four things in common which are the
prerequisite to help them survive in programming community:

1> Their tongues.
2> Their Code snippets are "borrowed".
3> They are/were never students of artificial life/ artificial
intelligent
4> They are not doing anything relating to science or it is just (1>)
that helps them.
Jul 23 '05 #8

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Jon Bell wrote:
I often tell people that if they hate "word problems" in math, they'll
probably hate programming, or at least the analysis/design stages, which
is arguably the most important part. After all, analyzing a problem and
designing a solution is basically a big "word problem". Usually with not
enough words, and with the given words being too vague. :-(


I don't know what a "word problem" is, but I like programming a lot.
Does that mean I like word problems although I don't know what they are?

Sort of exciting!

--
Matthias Kaeppler
Jul 23 '05 #9

P: n/a
In article <d3*************@news.t-online.com>,
Matthias Kaeppler <no****@digitalraid.com> wrote:

I don't know what a "word problem" is, but I like programming a lot.
Does that mean I like word problems although I don't know what they are?


You might. :-)

The kind of problems I'm thinking of are the ones in which you're not
given the equations to solve directly, but instead you're given a verbal
description of a situation. You have to identify the known and unknown
quantities, and the mathematical method (algorithm) that you need to use,
and then set up the equations, before you can actually solve them.

i actually deal with students struggling with word problems in physics,
because that's what I mostly teach. But when I talk to someone who's
inteested in starting to study programming, they usually haven't taken any
physics courses, but they *have* studied some math.

And in fact, we do find that students who do well in physics or math also
tend to do well in our programming courses, even though we don't actually
use much math in those courses, and practically no physics.

Also, the students who try to solve physics problems by simply hunting
through the textbook for likely-looking equations, and don't do well as a
result, tend not to do well in programming courses either. They can't
"invent" an algorithm on their own, but can use only what they've been
shown explicitly in class.

--
Jon Bell <jt****@presby.edu> Presbyterian College
Dept. of Physics and Computer Science Clinton, South Carolina USA
Jul 23 '05 #10

P: n/a
Matthias Kaeppler wrote:

Jon Bell wrote:
I often tell people that if they hate "word problems" in math, they'll
probably hate programming, or at least the analysis/design stages, which
is arguably the most important part. After all, analyzing a problem and
designing a solution is basically a big "word problem". Usually with not
enough words, and with the given words being too vague. :-(


I don't know what a "word problem" is,

German: "Textaufgabe"

--
Karl Heinz Buchegger
kb******@gascad.at
Jul 23 '05 #11

P: n/a
Karl Heinz Buchegger wrote:
Matthias Kaeppler wrote:
Jon Bell wrote:
I often tell people that if they hate "word problems" in math, they'll
probably hate programming, or at least the analysis/design stages, which
is arguably the most important part. After all, analyzing a problem and
designing a solution is basically a big "word problem". Usually with not
enough words, and with the given words being too vague. :-(


I don't know what a "word problem" is,


German: "Textaufgabe"


Ah I see, thanks Karl. Did I say I don't know what a word problem is? Of
course I know what a word problem is ;-D

But actually I don't see the connection to programming. I /do/ see the
connection to the analysis/design stage of developing a piece of
software though (as you have already stated).

--
Matthias Kaeppler
Jul 23 '05 #12

P: n/a
In article <d3**********@jtbell.presby.edu>,
Jon Bell <jt****@presby.edu> wrote:
And in fact, we do find that students who do well in physics or math also
tend to do well in our programming courses, even though we don't actually
use much math in those courses, and practically no physics.


That's hardly surprising; even though the actual direct knowledge seldom
overlaps, the analytical thinking skills required are rather similar
for all three.

In general, it doesn't matter what type of math unless there's something
required for the type of programming you want to do, but studying math is
good mental training for computer programming (and programming for math).
dave

--
Dave Vandervies dj******@csclub.uwaterloo.ca
If you see me abusing the term in this way, you are hereby given
permission to wince inwardly.
--Richard Heathfield in comp.lang.c
Jul 23 '05 #13

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