RE: Math Lacuna/was Re: LUNA: Re: indigenous fuels

O'Regan, Emlyn (
Mon, 26 Jul 1999 19:32:31 +1000

> Well, not that orbital mechanics is all that useful for Earthbound folk,
> but
> I have noticed that lots of intelligent people in the computer field --
> people who can analyze problems, create elegant designs and solutions,
> even
> anticipate defects and usage -- do not like or cannot do mathematics about
> an algebra level.
> Any ideas on why this is so? Can it be rectified? Should it be
> rectified?
> Cheers!
> Daniel Ust
Writing skill apparently is more important than mathematical skill to a programmer (this comes from software engineering lore, maybe I can find a reference, but only if it is really wanted because it would be a very annoying and not very enlightening task). The kinds of thinking used to structure a report or an essay are apparently very similar to the kinds of thinking used to structure a non-trivial software system. This still begs the question of why documentation written by IT people is so piss poor, but that is a question for the SIs. Of course if your system is about mathematics then you'll need a math brain, but probably only one, compared to X many people who can cut support code thats got nothing to do with maths.

Anderson Consulting here appears to recruit people from law and the humanities to be IT consultants, and trains them in coding itself. Being a software engineer myself (that's crapspeak for a code cutter who also does pretty pictures in MSWord), I doubt the efficacy of this, but it's their money.

If it were me, I would hire talented magicians. I think that slight of hand is highly underrated as a prerequisite for system design & implementation. Also people with a family history of winning the lottery (genetic luck) would be a damned good choice.

But they'd still be crap at maths.