Math: from hate to love

Arik on May 28, 2018

Photo Credit: Garden Programmers don't typically like to admit that they're bad at Math. Also, it doesn't help that most non-programmers have thi... [Read Full]
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most non-programmers have this idea that all programmers are some kind of Math geniuses

I'm so guilty of this.

You have given me hope. I'm starting up the entire math track on Khan Academy. Thank you for sharing your journey!


Kudos for mentioning Khan Academy.
I finished a math specialised high school and decided to study Political Science at university. Part of the decision was based on my feeling that I was bad at math. I always got Cs and Ds.
The main reason for the bad grades though, was lack of practice and bad handwriting. I just could not be bothered to give up drinking and going out in high school to actually study math and the bad writing made it very difficult for me to follow my own logical process as I attempted to solve a problem.
While writing my masters in PolSci I decided I would learn to code as the positions available to me with the degree were not very interesting and did not pay well.
So I spent a year learning math on Khan Academy while also completing free intro coding classes on other sites. I was blown away by the academys system for learning.
Although the lectures are very good, what helped me the most were the autogenerated math problems. No matter how difficult the lesson, if I solved enough problems I would grasp the core concepts and even develop intuition.
Learning math also helped me become a better developer and raised my self-esteem greatly.


Exactly. I totally agree that learning math is no different than any other practice-requiring activity: Be it Martial arts, piano or surfing. You work on it hard enough and long enough and you'll get it. But you'll have to work on it using the right approach. I think Khan academy's mastery based approach is brilliant.


This is astonishing!
I was able to see my recent thoughts in an elegantly written form in this article. I'm halfway to finishing the Algebra track on Khan Academy and, amazingly, Sal made me fall in love with math again. Your article is a pure proof that I'm on the right way.
Thank you for boosting my confidence exponentially!


This is so cool. Thank you. And I totally agree. I'm a convert too. These days I find myself browsing on the Amazon math section, looking for math books for recreational purposes! 5 years ago you couldn't pay me to come near one of these books.


I always felt that math is one of the subject's where the teacher/methodology makes the biggest difference. As Kalid Azad of the wonderful Better Explained put it in his "Developing Your Intuition For Math" post:

We’re taught the modern, rigorous definition and not the insights that led up to it. We’re left with arcane formulas [...] but little understanding of what the idea is.

I could see this throughout my own math "career": as a kid, I absolutely loved it and generally was one of the best students in my class. Starting at age 12 I ended up with a string of horrible teachers, lost interest in the subject and barely managed to achieve passing grades for a few years in a row. Then I ended up with a great teacher again and he restored my interest in the subject and my faith in my mathematical abilities. He even made me sub some of his lessons later and it's really mostly due to him that I eventually signed up for an undergrad in mathematics. That I didn't finish it was nobody's fault but my own, turns out getting a math degree while working full-time as a developer is not so easy.

Here's a random collection of some math related links:


Love the quote you shared. It is so true. We were cheated of the best part in math. Anybody can memorize formulas. But where's the fun?!


Great post! Actually, I used to be pretty good at math. Maybe I had good teachers and maybe I had a little bit of knack for it. I could even do some tricky calculus stuff, but after 15 years of not using it, I can barely remember how to do simple algebra! I'm now teaching myself to program and realize that I definitely need to brush up on my math, but had no idea where to start. Sounds like Khan Academy is perfect!


Awesome! I guess they call them exercises for a reason. Because when you don't do them you get out of shape :-) Your comment inspired me to keep my daily dose of exercises routine. Thanks!


Yeah, I really want to kick myself for not keeping it up! It's like learning a foreign language... don't use it and you'll just forget it all.


Thanks, Arik!
I'm in the middle of my Computer Engineering Bachelor degree but I finished the high school a long time ago. So, I'm struggling with math (especially Calculus) and physics. Computer science and programming courses going well because I worked as a programmer already, but the maths and physics...
I've enrolled Khan Academy and I hope they will help me out.


That's really awesome! Make sure you really grok Algebra I, Algebra II and precalc material or you will run into walls that are actually not with calc but with earlier material. Good luck!


i found we have many same in the early time, except i havnt keep on khan acadmy

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