"I have a mind like a steel... uh... thingy." Patrick Logan's weblog.

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Wednesday, January 23, 2008

Math and Software Development

Via Reg Braithwaite, Ravi Mohan questions the arrogance of software developers calling themselves "engineers". Ravi's argument is they do not do math...

If you don’t use mathematics in your day to day work, you aren’t an engineer...

The title “Software Engineer” is (most of the time) a particularly deceptive one.

Certainly "logic" is a form of math and is a central aspect of software development.



Cost / benefit trade-off analysis and assessment, i.e. kinds of "forecasting", "budgeting", "accounting".

These are all mathematical, and significant aspects of software development.

Not that I care. I'm "just a programmer".


Anonymous said...

I use math in my programs all the time:

i = i + 1

Unknown said...

And a programming language is a formal language, plus we do use such language to do formal reasoning. No guarantee that such reasoning is correct? Well, can engineers or mathematicians guarantee their calculation/proof correct even after numerous peer reviews?

Anonymous said...

It's an interesting point. I personally never thought of it that way. I think such a definition of "engineering" would be too narrow. Wikipedia defines it as:

"The creative application of scientific principles to design or develop structures, machines, apparatus, or manufacturing processes, or works utilizing them singly or in combination; or to construct or operate the same with full cognizance of their design; or to forecast their behavior under specific operating conditions; all as respects an intended function, economics of operation and safety to life and property."

Not that it matters. I too consider myself "just a programmer."

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Portland, Oregon, United States
I'm usually writing from my favorite location on the planet, the pacific northwest of the u.s. I write for myself only and unless otherwise specified my posts here should not be taken as representing an official position of my employer. Contact me at my gee mail account, username patrickdlogan.