The great myth you need to be good in math to code

8/22/2022 | Christian Kreutz
Programming is a lot like playing chess
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I have probably spent thousands of hours programming, during which I had to listen to this persisting, among others, myth about programming: You need to be good at maths, at applying algebra, etc.

Programming has more to do with chess than maths

Most programming requires simple to complex logical thinking. These are sequences, such as reading the content of a file, checking for certain occurrences and then doing action a or b depending on certain conditions.

It is like playing chess and not working with mathematical formulas. The more you think your moves ahead, the better you can code.

Mainly, web programming hardly involves any maths that you cannot refresh in a short time. 

I don't mean to rule maths out of the equation. maths can be pretty helpful when you have to deal with complex programming challenges, i.e. optimising the Google search algorithm, but that is probably not your case.

Let me tell you a secret: While excellent programmers solve a task with a few lines of code that runs in milliseconds, the novice code might take longer and be slower, but it also fits the purpose.

Here are some tips to start coding:

  • Tip 1: Make it fun and real. While programming tutorials might be informational, they are often dull and time-consuming. Just choose a problem you want to solve and whose result can be helpful in your daily life. It might take you longer at the beginning, but the sense of achievement and learning is quite different.

  • Tip 2: Move faster with the help of others. Programming has become much easier thanks to frameworks and libraries (abstraction). Benefit from these pieces to get quicker results, and later on drill down to understand the hidden mechanism.

  • Tip 3: Work like a detective. Programming means you must deal with a lot of bug fixing until you have a working version. The better you research such bugs and understand what is behind them, the faster you become a good programmer.

Only some programmers require maths in their daily work. Programming has become much easier nowadays, and it is much more fun if you like solving puzzles.