Introduction to software developer profession for teens

Xavi Drudis Ferran xdrudis at
Wed Nov 22 10:55:45 UTC 2017

El Mon, Nov 20, 2017 at 07:06:29PM +0100, Florian Snow deia:
> Hi,
> Carmen Bianca Bakker <carmenbianca at> writes:
> > - You do not need to be good at maths to be a decent software
> >   engineer.


>  They are often very surprised when I tell
> them it is English and a little bit of logic.

But math is logic. I think building abstractions (and understanding
what must have others been thinking when building theirs) , analyzing
all possible cases, managing complexity and prioritizing alternatives
does require mathematical intuition. I don't mean math like in primary
school arithmetic, but like in theorem proving. In fact that's the
math you can call math, in the sense that is the one studied by anyone
who does need more math that what all people is taught.

And you need to use English (or any language, really, it's a pity that
multiligualism is so poor in CS, and other areas) as a mathematician
does, not as a journalist, politician, psycologist or poet. Being a
good journalist does not imply being a good programmer. All jobs need
talking, listening, writing and reading.  The language skills are
really needed but that is not particular to software engineering. At
most the way you use them may be a little different from other jobs.

All jobs need some English and some math. For sw devel do you need
more English than other jobs or more math than other jobs? I'd say
more math. Of course, as one teacher of mine replied when his students
complained of formal automata, grammars and languages being too
theoretical and uneeded for work: "the only thing you won't use in
work is that what you do not know" (I'm not sure whether he quoted
someone). In any job, you'll use all the skills you have (ok, just
most), some you didn't know you had, and some you're afraid you still
don't have but had to use anyway. But if I couldn't find a software
developer, I'd rather hire a mathematician than a linguist for most
software development positions (and I believe if we had the
statistics, that's what people is hiring).

But I stray offtopic. Yes, talk of free software. When presenting any
profession you can say what kind of tasks you'll have to do and what
kind of pay you can get, how hard or how easy it is to find jobs, but
I think it's more interesting to explain how will you help others and
how the collective work of you and others like you can change
society. Software can change society for the better or for the worse.
So it's worth talking of both.

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