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Comment: Re:What about power? (Score 5, Insightful) 54

For some tasks I can understand recycling. I use older hardware to build routers, anti-spam gateways, VPN appliances and the like. Normally these are fairly low-cycle tasks, at least for smaller offices. But I've learned my lesson about using older hardware in mission critical applications. I've set up custom routers that worked just great, until the motherboards popped a cap, and then they're down, and unless you've got spares sitting around, you're in for some misery.

Comment: once we get back to the Moon.... (Score 1, Interesting) 154

by Ralph Spoilsport (#47490281) Attached to: NASA: Lunar Pits and Caves Could House Astronauts
Um, no. We're not going to the moon or anywhere like it. The economy will likely collapse again before the end of the decade. There won't be the money or the resources. Sending robotic missions makes more sense. Sending people is a dumb idea. We evolved to live here. We are expensive to travel and hard to settle. Machines are constructed to do certain things in certain environments. They are more capable than humans in that regard. Send them to get fried by coronal mass ejections.

Comment: Re:I disagree (Score 1) 236

by Coryoth (#47488509) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Math is all about being precise, logical.. Communicating exactly one concept at a time. Natural languages do neither.

Except math is almost never actually done that way in practice. Euclid was wonderful, but almost all modern math does not work that strictly (and Euclid really should have been more careful with the parallel postulate -- there's "more than one thing at a time" involved there). Yes, proofs are careful and detailed, but so is, say, technical writing in English. Except for a few cases (check out metamath.org, or Homotopy Type Theory) almost no-one actually pedantically lays out all the formal steps introducing "only one concept at a time".

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 236

by Coryoth (#47487341) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Not every programmer deals with these [mathematical] questions regularly (which is why I donâ(TM)t think math is necessary to be a programmer), but if you want to be a great programmer you had better bet youâ(TM)ll need it.

I don't think you need math even to be a great programmer. I do think a lot of great programmers are people who think in mathematical terms and thus benefit from mathematics. But I also believe you can be a great programmer and not be the sort of person who thinks in those terms. I expect the latter is harder, but then I'm a mathematician so I'm more than read to accept that I have some bias in this topic.

Comment: Re:I disagree (Score 3, Insightful) 236

by Coryoth (#47487263) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Math IS sequencing. So is using recipes. That is how math works.

Math is a language. Just because you can frame things in that language doesn't mean that that language is necessary. Recipes are often in English. English is sequencing (words are a serial stream after all). That doesn't mean English is necessary for programming (there seem to many competent non-english speaking programmers as far as I can tell).

Disclaimer: I am a professional research mathematician; I do understand math just fine.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 236

by Coryoth (#47487085) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

College education wastes countless hours teaching academic stuff that a great majority of programmers will not use on the job, while neglecting critical skills that could be immediately useful in a large .[sic]

Of course there was a time when college education was supposed to be education and not just vocational training.

Comment: Re:Your Results Will Vary (Score 1) 236

by Coryoth (#47487063) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

I think part of the problem is that "programming" is itself so diverse.

The other part of the problem is that math is so diverse. There's calculus and engineering math with all kinds of techniques for solving this or that PDE; there's set theoretic foundations; there's graph theory and design theory and combinatorics and a slew of other discrete math topics; there's topology and metric spaces and various abstractions for continuity; there's linear algebra and all the finer points of matrices and matrix decompositions and tensors and on into Hilbert spaces and other infinite dimensional things; there's category theory and stacks and topos theory and other esoterica of abstraction. On and on, and all very different and I can't even pretend to have anything but cursory knowledge of most of them ... and I have a Ph.D. in math and work for a research institute trying to stay abreast of a decent range of topics. The people who actually study these topics in depth are all called "mathematicians", but if you're an algebraic geometer then sure, you're probably familiar with category theory and homological algebra; if you do design theory and graph theory then those seem like the most useful subject available.

Comment: Re: Your Results Will Vary (Score 2) 236

by Coryoth (#47487035) Attached to: Math, Programming, and Language Learning

Calculus is perhaps not the best measure however. Depending on where you go in the programming field calculus is likely less useful than some decent depth of knowledge in graph theory, abstract algebra, category theory, or combinatorics and optimization. I imagine a number of people would chime in with statistics, but to do statistics right you need calculus (which is an example of one of the directions where calculus can be useful for programming).

Of course the reality is that you don't need any of those subjects. Those subjects can, however, be very useful to you as a programmer. So yes you can certainly be a programmer, and even a very successful and productive one without any knowledge of calculus, or graph theory say. On the other hand, there may well be times when graph theory, or calculus, or statistics could prove very useful. what it comes down to is whether you are inclined to think that way -- and if so it can be a benefit; if not it won't be the way you think about the problem anyway.

Comment: Re:believe everything you are told! (Score 2) 502

by MightyMartian (#47484105) Attached to: Russia Prepares For Internet War Over Malaysian Jet

Because some relatively small number of events may have a conspiratorial aspect does not mean all events do. In this case, it does appear that a bunch of separatists in Ukraine got their hands on some pretty sophisticated hardware and, obviously by accident, blew a civilian airliner out of the sky. Now, that's not as sexy an explanation as secret US operatives standing in the bushes near the separatists, or secret Russian operatives bringing the plane down in an even more elaborate scheme to make the West look bad by making themselves look bad so they can say "Those rotten Americans are trying to make us look bad."

Something like this was bound to happen when relatively poorly trained and disciplined weekend warriors get their hands on serious military hardware. The Russians have been quite keen to back the separatists with weapons, intelligence and some of their own personnel. It would be nice that if they are going to allow these separatists to use advanced AA equipment that maybe they have someone nearby who actually knows how to use such equipment, or at very least to put a bullet in the head of some daft nimrod who thinks he knows how to use the equipment.

"I prefer rogues to imbeciles, because they sometimes take a rest." -- Alexandre Dumas (fils)

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