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Making math make sense to programmers

Whether you’re learning math for pleasure or profit (jumping on the Big Data bandwagon), there are times when it may seem intimidating, overwhelming, confounding, etc. My assertion is that if you think like a programmer, you already have a leg up when it comes to learning math.

I gave today’s Tech Talk at Pivotal Labs SF on this very topic. The outline of the talk is listed below, and these are the slides. I’ll be following up with a series of mini blog posts extracting the contents of the talk.

  1. Program-y translations of math notation
    • Why is math hard to read? Conventions!
    • Translation 1: Mathematical functions (lines, sinusoids)
    • Translation 2: Sigma notation, and other indexed operations
    • Translation 3: Set notation and quantifiers
    • Resources for learning on your own
  2. Program-y proof that the infinity of the reals is bigger than the infinity of the naturals (yes, there are different sizes of infinity)
    • Groundwork: The real numbers
    • Groundwork: Cardinality, the math way to say “how many”
    • Groundwork: Proof by contradiction, the math way to say “when pigs fly”
    • The proof that |R| > |N| for programmers (read: finitists)

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