The Set of Programmers: How Math Restricts Us

Accepted Session
Short Form
Scheduled: Thursday, June 22, 2017 from 10:00 – 10:45am in B202/203


People new to programming often have to work through barriers of language and learning in order to become proficient and being contributing. Does one of those barriers need to be one's math skills? Most schools and textbooks seem to think so. Let's discuss how we're introducing new developers to programming and whether we can make it more inclusive by removing the mathematics and replacing it with logic.


Let’s start a discussion about how we are introducing new developers to programming. Most textbooks, tutorials, and trainings begin by using mathematics lessons to teach newcomers to code. Many courses on programming require math skills as prerequisites. However, math prowess is not usually an indicator of one’s potential programming abilities, and in fact presents a significant barrier to entry for a lot of people who might otherwise be interested.

I will pose questions about whether we can be using methods other than math skills to teach programming languages to beginners. I propose logic and reasoning skills are more important programming concepts to master to help new developers succeed. Let’s change the way we’re teaching programming and break down more artificial barriers to entry for becoming a developer.


education, newbies, community, math, academia

Speaking experience

I have spoken at 24 conferences and given 6 keynote talks. I spoke at OS Bridge in 2010 on a different topic. I have given this particular talk 3 times over the past year, at LinuxCon EU, SeaGL, and LibrePlanet.