# [plt-scheme] Project Euler

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.
rac
>*
*>* Shriram
*