RE: CODE: Dealing With Problem Programmers

From: Ben Houston (
Date: Fri Feb 23 2001 - 12:48:49 MST

Hi sir,

> What have been you're experiences with poorly performing programmers?

I've been the lead member of my universities ACM programming team for the
last two years. Basically the team is chosen from the computer science
students at our university to compete against other universities. I've been
involved very heavily in trying to pick a good team - it is difficult.

There is only about 1 in 10 or less people in computer science that I would
want on the team. Most programmers are pretty slow. I find that it has to
do with something related to "mathematical intelligence" rather than
attitude. Basically if someone can get A+ in math without trying to hard
then they are most likely a really good programmer if they want to be. If
they are not good at math then they will not be able to think programming
problem through before they start - they will sort of do this weird
programming style where they start to code too soon and sort of try to
evolve their code towards a good solution. This is much much slower and
produces much less efficient code.

"Mathematical intelligence" seems to correspond pretty closely to IQ values.
Supposedly, professional mathematicians as a group usually have IQ's above

> What did you find helped increase the programmer's productivity?

Find some way to boost the intelligence of your programmers. It would be
the best way to do it.

-ben houston

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