[Haskell-cafe] Comments from OCaml Hacker Brian Hurt

Steve Schafer steve at fenestra.com
Fri Jan 16 12:08:00 EST 2009

On Thu, 15 Jan 2009 20:18:50 -0800, you wrote:

>Really.  So the engineer who designed the apartment building I'm in at
>the moment didn't know any physics, thought `tensor' was a scary math
>term irrelevant to practical, real-world engineering, and will only read
>books on engineering that replace the other scary technical term
>`vector' with point-direction-value-thingy?  I think I'm going to sleep
>under the stars tonight...

As a rule, buildings are designed by architects, whose main job is to
ensure that they follow the requirements set by the relevant building
code (e.g., the International Building Code, used in most of the United
States and a few other places). Of course, an experienced architect has
most of that stuff in his/her brain already, and doesn't need to
constantly refer to the code books.

A jurisdiction may require that the architect's design be signed off by
one or more engineers. This is almost always the case for public
buildings and multi-unit housing, and almost always not the case for
single-unit housing.

But if the building is a run-of-the-mill design, then the engineer
checking it is unlikely to use anything beyond simple algebra. It's only
in case of unusual structures and one-offs (skyscrapers, most anything
built in Dubai these days, etc.) that engineers will really get down and
dirty with the math. And yes, most professional engineers would not be
able to do that kind of work without some kind of refresher, not so much
because they never learned it, but because they haven't used it in so

>Um, no.  I try to avoid people as much as possible; computers at least
>make sense.  Also anything else to do with the real world :)

Well, that it explains it then...

>Again, do engineers know *what* stress is?  Do they understand terms
>like `tensor'?  Those things are the rough equivalents of terms like

Stress, probably, at least in basic terms. Tensor, probably not.

Steve Schafer
Fenestra Technologies Corp.

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