Strong in Math Weak in Programming!! Can I Still Dream?

avarava

New Member
I was always told that people who are good in Math are essentially good in computer programming too. Well I am definitely an exception to that rule. I have always enjoyed and performed very well in Mathematics (including college mathematics...PDE, Linear Algebra, Probability etc.). However, I have always viewed computer programming with fear and helplessness. Consequently, I have always avoided computer programming like a plague.

I did well in my engineering entrance exams and got into a top 10 school in my country. Did well in all subjects but got a C in C++ (How apt) in the first semester. Thankfully, I majored in Materials Engineering and did not have to do any more computer programming in university. Got hired by a big 4 accounting firm and worked in the risk analytics division. Learnt SAS coding and hated it to the point of moving to finance so that I won't have to code again. I have close to 8 years of work experience mostly in Credit Risk and Product Control and I have so far been successful in avoiding programming like a skilled soldier dodging enemy bullets. Fortunately or unfortunately, I have always been handed an intern or co-op to build my excel macros through VB Programming.

I guess I have been able to communicate the extent of my fear and loathing for computer programming. But here is the interesting part, I am absolutely in awe of the application of computer programming in finance and view my colleagues who can code like a pro with hated admiration. I am also contemplating pursuing MFE sometime in near future. How do I shed my fear and put my analytical brain to use to learn programming? Or am I a hopeless case?
 
Knowledge is power.
Learn C++ for starters and see how that goes otherwise there is no point in even looking at MFE.
 

HemantK

New Member
Lol... Look @ programming in an angle as if u are learning a new "language" to communicate with a computer (stranger)... gets easier when you solve a few tutorials
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
I was always told that people who are good in Math are essentially good in computer programming too.
You were told wrong.

If you're coming from outside to math or to programming, the first order of business is to develop the right approach to it, to develop the right way to grok it. The details of the subject matter come later. And there's probably no one canonical way to get this right frame of mind, except by working slowly and meticulously through simple material and meditating on it (rather than going through the forced death march of a regular course).

Pick up a book on Python maybe. I like Sedgewick and Wayne's recently published book on Python but there's no accounting for taste. Work through it slowly -- "less haste, more speed." Refuse to be rushed.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
I was always told that people who are good in Math are essentially good in computer programming too.

By whom? Probably a mathematician? :D

Programming is an art form. Not sure if mathematics is philosophy or art..

Learnt SAS coding
You poor thing.
 

avarava

New Member
Thanks for the inputs.

Programming is an art form.
Not sure I agree. Sorry if I come across as impertinent but people who are good at something have this tendency to call their skill an "art". Like a passionate baker calling bakery an art or a pugilist calling boxing an art. That way anything can be called an art. Frankly, it comes across as fluff :)
 

F.Fontana

New Member
As tfors suggests, start with Python. I would add that if you don't feel motivated or whatever with a book, you might also consider to start with a playlist of videos somewhere since it could be more motivating in a certain sense. I've learnt programming in R and C respectively with a series of videos from Coursera and Youtube and I was satisfied of both courses.

Even if you had a traumatic experience with C in you university, I'm sure you will enjoy Python! Stop being scared of programming!
 

euroazn

Active Member
I'll take the probably unpopular stance and say that if you really got a C in an introductory programming course, you probably aren't as good at math as you say you are either.
 

avarava

New Member
I'll take the probably unpopular stance and say that if you really got a C in an introductory programming course, you probably aren't as good at math as you say you are either.
I am totally fine with your unpopular stance. Anything to help you out of your bitter persona :)
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Thanks for the inputs.



Not sure I agree. Sorry if I come across as impertinent but people who are good at something have this tendency to call their skill an "art". Like a passionate baker calling bakery an art or a pugilist calling boxing an art. That way anything can be called an art. Frankly, it comes across as fluff :)
Yeah, what do I know. I only worked with ~ 6K developers since the 1970s.
Well, in the words of Alexander Pope is a dangerous thing:) If you just want me to confirm your preconceived notions then sorry, no.

Computer Science is not a science. Baking is a well-defined discipline. If I ask 10 programmers to bake a cake I will get 10 cakes at 10 prices and 10 different deadlines.
 
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euroazn

Active Member
Yeah, what do I know. I only worked with ~ 6K developers since the 1970s.
Well, in the words of Alexander Pope is a dangerous thing:) If you just want me to confirm your preconceived notions then sorry, no.

Computer Science is not a science. Baking is a well-defined discipline. If I ask 10 programmers to bake a cake I will get 10 cakes at 10 prices and 10 different deadlines.
Eh, computer science is a science, but software development is exactly what you describe it as.



I am totally fine with your unpopular stance. Anything to help you out of your bitter persona :)
Just being honest, mate. In any case, as someone that works in industry... if you can't program, don't even bother.
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
I'll take the probably unpopular stance and say that if you really got a C in an introductory programming course, you probably aren't as good at math as you say you are either.
What's the logic behind this assertion? There are different skills involved. Math -- beyond the plug-and-chug calculus level -- involves a sequence of Aha! moments as things fall into place conceptually, as the non-trivial characters of proofs become clear, as the architecture of an entire field of study comes into focus. Coding seems to involve more playing around with code, experimenting, seeing if things work, experimenting with new designs for solving a problem, trying out and becoming comfortable with new features. I know coders with no aptitude for math and conversely, mathematicians with no aptitude or penchant for coding.
 

euroazn

Active Member
Can you see the fallacy of your logic in the above text?
Not at all. Software development is not a subset of computer science. Computer science can be done entirely with paper and pencil, and is as much of a science as mathematics is.


What's the logic behind this assertion? There are different skills involved. Math -- beyond the plug-and-chug calculus level -- involves a sequence of Aha! moments as things fall into place conceptually, as the non-trivial characters of proofs become clear, as the architecture of an entire field of study comes into focus. Coding seems to involve more playing around with code, experimenting, seeing if things work, experimenting with new designs for solving a problem, trying out and becoming comfortable with new features. I know coders with no aptitude for math and conversely, mathematicians with no aptitude or penchant for coding.
Math is maybe 10% aha moments (of course, by time/beauty these take up more than 10%) and 90% stepping through an architecture (eg a set of lemmas/axioms/definitions/theorems) logically. Much like coding is. Speaking of which, coding probably has 10% aha moments too, if you're coding anything remotely interesting at least.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
Not at all. Software development is not a subset of computer science. Computer science can be done entirely with paper and pencil, and is as much of a science as mathematics is.
Ergo, CS is not a science because it does not validate its results.

See Feynman's remarks

 

euroazn

Active Member
Ergo, CS is not a science because it does not validate its results.
It validates itself... computer science is a subset of mathematics.
Computer science is true because results are predicated by axioms.

If we begin to argue that mathematics isn't a science, we venture into philosophical ground and it is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand anyhow. Let's get back to the original point. Kiddo's gotta learn how to code.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
It validates itself... computer science is a subset of mathematics.
Computer science is true because results are predicated by axioms.

If we begin to argue that mathematics isn't a science, we venture into philosophical ground and it is completely irrelevant to the discussion at hand anyhow. Let's get back to the original point. Kiddo's gotta learn how to code.
Let's call it a draw.

computer science is a subset of mathematics.
If the adjective 'discrete' is added, then I agree. Kind of.
 

bigbadwolf

Well-Known Member
computer science is a subset of mathematics.

If the adjective 'discrete' is added, then I agree. Kind of.
There are areas like computability -- part of theoretical computer science that is close to mathematical logic. Or complexity theory or automata or formal languages. Not what a software developer needs.
 

Daniel Duffy

C++ author, trainer
There are areas like computability -- part of theoretical computer science that is close to mathematical logic. Or complexity theory or automata or formal languages. Not what a software developer needs.
I agree. And that is what I was intimating. No software developer I know uses them in real life. I'm quite cynical about its applicability.

Whither CS?
 
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