Thursday, August 12, 2010

Strong math needed always? I don't think so

For some reason I watched this video today entitled "A Day in the Life - Computer Software Engineer". Towards the end it says that it is important to have "a strong grasp of mathematics".

I remember hearing that back in 1982 and it very nearly scared me away from getting involved in computing. Its not that I'm particularly bad at math but I certainly would not consider myself "strong" in it.

Sometimes I wonder how many young people who would be very competent developers get scared off by this sort of talk? I have been lucky enough to work with some very, very good developers over the years and "strong math" has not been a common thread amongst them.

2 comments:

davidmegginson said...

General software development requires the equivalent of approximately grade-six math in the Canadian (and presumably, US) curricula: at that point, you have been exposed to the Cartesian plane and simple exponents (so can understand why some algorithms have sucky performance).

Specific domains (financial, 3D graphics, etc.) may demand more, but then, any domain likely requires specialized knowledge.

Simon said...

I don't think I've ever needed anything more than my high school boolean logic or calculus to solve a problem, and call on trigonometry more often. I just have some review books on those for when I need to relearn them.

More background in statistics would have been useful for me, though - that would open up other approaches.

Of course, I don't work in domains that are intrinsically about math.