[Haskell-cafe] Comments from OCaml Hacker Brian Hurt

Andrew Coppin andrewcoppin at btinternet.com
Thu Jan 15 16:29:14 EST 2009

Jonathan Cast wrote:
> Where, in the history of western civilization, has there ever been an
> engineering discipline whose adherents were permitted to remain ignorant
> of the basic mathematical terminology and methodology that their
> enterprise is founded on?  Why should software engineering be the lone
> exception?
> No one may be a structural engineer, and remain ignorant of physics.  No
> one may be a chemical engineer, and remain ignorant of chemistry.  Why
> on earth should any one be permitted to be a software engineer, and
> remain ignorant of computing science?

Indeed. Because abstract alebra is highly relevant to computer 
programming. Oh, wait...

Many people complain that too many "database experts" don't know the 
first thing about basic normalisation rules, SQL injection attacks, why 
you shouldn't use cursors, and so forth. But almost nobody complains 
that database experts don't know set theory or relational alebra. Why 
should proramming be any different?

Don't get me wrong, there are mathematical concepts that are relevant to 
computing, and we should encourage people to learn about them. But you 
really *should not* need to do an undergraduate course in mathematical 
theory just to work out how to concat two lists. That's absurd. Some 
kind of balance needs to be found.

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