[plt-scheme] Project Euler

From: Richard Cleis (rcleis at mac.com)
Date: Sat May 5 19:02:25 EDT 2007

On May 5, 2007, at 3:51 PM, Shriram Krishnamurthi wrote:

>> Regarding students who are afraid of mathematics...  What is the
>> reason that they study computer science?
> 1. I don't think it's ever useful to question the motives of students
> in the form "why are you doing X if you don't Y".  People in general
> have more (seemingly) strange notivations than we can ever imagine.

I'm not questioning motives; I am genuinely curious about what makes  
people want to study CS and what they want to do when they are  
finished.  I work with programmers who are engineers (the concrete- 
thinkers you refer to below,) so our motives are easy to understand.

> 2. There are, it seems, many things you can do with computational
> skills that don't involve traditional mathematics.

I have made a career of such things, yet I couldn't have made it  
without heavy doses of boring mathematics.

> 3. Finally, computing provides a home for people who think in a
> logical fashion but are turned off by the abstractness of mathematics
> and the over-concreteness of engineering.  These people are perfectly
> capable of "mathematical" thinking, but questions of the form "find
> the smallest N such that ..." either fail to turn them on or, worse,
> turn them off.

I suppose those arithmetic-based exercises are ubiquitous because  
they are so convenient (computers know how to deal with numbers:  
print them, compare them, input them, etc.)

I still can't picture what attracts people to programming.  Any well- 
written, nearly perfect program is difficult to write... and any well- 
written, nearly perfect program is typically brushed aside as  
something that must have been easy to write.  Why would anyone want  
to do it? :)

> Five-second test: when you teach a beginner programming, do you teach
> fibonacci and factorial?

Neither... I point them to the DrScheme tutorial.


> Shriram

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