[Tutor] a puzzle about -3**2 vs (-3)**2

Alan Gauld alan.gauld at btinternet.com
Sat Aug 1 00:57:04 CEST 2015

On 31/07/15 18:48, D Wyatt wrote:

> I have never really thought about any of this before, but many of you
> have responded like this is so obvious.  That is not helpful.

That's a fair point.

In our defence I guess that many of the active "tutors" on the list are 
professional programmers. And programming originated, and is often still 
taught, as a branch of math. Which means we tend to have a background in 
math and therefore tend to see a lot of math stuff
as "obvious" when, of course, it may not be to someone without
that background.

> ... when you forget that what seems obvious to you is not
> obvious to everybody, you lose the ability to be as helpful as you
> could be.

Again a very valid point. We try to keep our answers general and
not assume too much background. But sometimes you forget how
much you think is 'obvious' is really just
"learned a long time ago"...

> The only stupid question is the question you don't ask.

And that too is true. Thanks for asking it, the discussion is
always useful and, hopefully, you will not be the only one to

Alan G
Author of the Learn to Program web site
Follow my photo-blog on Flickr at:

More information about the Tutor mailing list