Defending the Python lanuage...

Peter Milliken peter.milliken at
Fri Feb 1 04:30:47 CET 2002

"dman" <dsh8290 at> wrote in message
news:mailman.1012527663.10812.python-list at
> On Thu, Jan 31, 2002 at 04:03:13PM -0800, Cliff Wells wrote:
> | No doubt the terms "engineer" and "science" are stretched to their
> | in this field.  "Art" seems more appropriate, although I've seen some
> | that would defy that categorization as well.  I seem to recall a study
> | showed that language skills were a better indicator of an individual's
> | potential to become proficient in programming than mathematics or
> | engineering skills, so perhaps that's not surprising.
> I think language and mathematics are equally important, though it
> really depends on what level of development you're working in.
> Certainly low-level stuff (bit twiddling and the like) requires far
> more mathematics than GUI app construction.  Though I agree that
> working with language is extremely important.  After all, everything
> we do is in some language, whether it is English on USENET or Python
> in the python interpreter or shell in a shell, it's all language.
> Those able to easily pick up and understand language will be more
> productive at using the right tool for the job rather than getting
> stuck in a "one language fits all problems" mentality.

Well, I am an electrical engineer, so once upon a time I was very heavily
into mathematics. received my "bit of paper" over 20 years ago now. I don't
believe I can remember ever using any mathematics in programming that went
beyond 2nd or 3rd year in High School though :-) I have worked on some
reasonable sized defense projects where the navigation/sonar stuff used
things like Kalman filters but the number of programmers required to
understand that was 0! They hired a consultant from a University to supply
the functions/algorithms and an engineer translated the equation into code -
didn't require any real maths background for that one! :-) So for me, a
mathematical background displays a sense of order and logic more than
anything else - something you need when you a generating lines of code :-).
As for language, well, like many electrical engineers I almost failed
English in high school :-). I have gotten considerably better since then but
that was because I was in a job that required the generation of copious
amounts of documentation that other people could read and understand :-).

Did some "bit twiddling" once upon a time too - 3-bit error
detection/correction for 2 bit errors type stuff, again, mathematical
background wasn't strenuous because the design called for an implementation
of the algorithm from a white paper done by Intel (I think it was) -
certainly *some* maths was required but it didn't tax the brain cells! :-)

So the mindset that copes well with Maths and Language is probably
appropriate for programming - certainly (or not necessarily) the actual
education level of :-)

> -D
> --
> There are six things the Lord hates,
>     seven that are detestable to him :
>         haughty eyes,
>         a lying tongue,
>         hands that shed innocent blood,
>         a heart that devises wicked schemes,
>         feet that are quick to rush into evil,
>         a false witness who pours out lies
>         and a man who stirs up dissension among brothers.
>         Proverbs 6:16-19

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