Language Savant- Terrrible at math-Computer science prodigy?

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Mitrovah
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16 Jan 2014, 5:40 pm

So my brain is something of a paradox, I love learning languages, i got top grades in college in Latin and I taught myself the Russian and Greek Alphabet. I can understand complicated philosophy texts as well which involve really complicated circular statements. But i cannot for the life of me understand complicated algebra. People tell me mathematics is a just another language which I find to be a ludicrous analogy; numbers signify a reality that I cannot grasp as opposed to languages. I understand the rules of languages better because I understand English and therefore have some sense of reference.

I remember one time in algebra class a teacher asked me what is "A squared plus b squared," my reply was: "I don't know, I didn't know you could add letters, why don't they teach this in English class? " of course the whole class laughed at me. The only person who is good at math in my family is my mother, all males are terrible at math: my brother couldn't subtract when he was young, my dad can only do enough to balance his check book and he is a college professor.

What is the deal? if Im good at languages and philosophy but terrible at math could I do well in computer science? I tried reading logic statements in computer books and found them a little hard to follow because they are so rigid, but I wasn't really trying.



Kurgan
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16 Jan 2014, 5:52 pm

Keep in mind that natural languages are different from computer languages. The former is full of treacherous rules, usually has a nonsensical syntax, and stuff like that; the latter is orderly, has a structured syntax, and doesn't really contain anything you don't "need" (take fillwords, for instance).

I'm good at math, lousy at spoken languages—and I study computer science. :P



Willard
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16 Jan 2014, 5:54 pm

Mitrovah wrote:
I remember one time in algebra class a teacher asked me what is "A squared plus b squared," my reply was: "I don't know I didn't know you could add letters, why don't they teach this in English class? "



:lmao: My sentiments exactly! Alphabetic characters represent sounds, not unknown quantities. If they need a symbol to represent an unknown number, they should use a whole new SYMBOL, not a mark than means aee, or bee.

I am not too stupid to understand the concepts of higher math, my brain just refuses to get involved in a game that is (to me at least) so utterly counter-intuitive. My subconscious just throws up an invisible wall and says: "Homey don't play dat," and I can't force myself to focus on it.



Mitrovah
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16 Jan 2014, 6:29 pm

Kurgan wrote:
Keep in mind that natural languages are different from computer languages. The former is full of treacherous rules, usually has a nonsensical syntax, and stuff like that; the latter is orderly, has a structured syntax, and doesn't really contain anything you don't "need" (take fillwords, for instance).

I'm good at math, lousy at spoken languages—and I study computer science. :P


Well philosophical statements are ordered, logical and complicated as well, try reading Kierkegaard, Heidegger or Derrida and you will see what I mean, and I can understand those. the other question would be if I can understand the non nonsensical logic of language why would it be so difficult for me to understand math? i can see the underlying relationships of tense, case, number, mood and the underlying meaning but i am totally blind when trying to see the relationships in math. To me math is non nonsensical babble. But i have a read in a few places coding is simply using an established language that are logic statements such as IF A is true then input B or something to that effect.

Language is just as logical: it has formulas to express a certain idea concept or commands a certain meaning: If I want to express a result clause or command a Latin to express a result clause the formula is: Present active indicative tense+the adverb UT+plus the subjunctive tense equals a result statement. If I see Present active verb+ UT+ subjunctive then the result statement must be true. Logical enough right?

If my argument has merit, would I be able to manage computer coding then?



BornThisWay
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16 Jan 2014, 9:21 pm

All during my school years, I was miserable at math. My verbal scores far outpaced the quantitative, but I did enjoy geometry and proofs (I got marked down for making them too elaborate, but at least I sort of understood them) I also enjoyed word problems, even though I had trouble applying the formulas properly. My awful math and gym grades kept me off the honor roll - which mattered a lot more to my NT mom than to me at the time...

Anyway, fast forward to University - it was only there that I discovered the manner in which math IS a kind of language. It is highly abstract, rigid and intensely simple at the same time. In its most basic forms it is a simplified code for describing any manner of 'things' that can be quantified and how they can be manipulated. That's what all the one + one stuff is - along with subtraction etc. Multiplication and division are just fancy shortcuts for adding and subtracting. Fractions etc. is all about dividing 'things' up. My problems arose from the abstract manner in which it was always taught - with an emphasis on formulaic manipulations that had absolutely no meaning.

I was long baffled by algebra and absolutely dreaded the required courses I needed to take. I did fine in the logic classes, but I still had to take Algebra. I figured I was doomed! But the school offered an applied mathematics course, and that was what saved me. I had a brilliant teacher who knew how to explain what math really is. I finally found out that all those formulas etc. in algebra are merely coded sentences describing curves on a flat plane, and then in trigonometry the system is pulled out into three dimensions, and movement is tossed in with calculus and etc. in the higher forms. No one had ever bothered to explain this to me before and with the physical applications approach, things finally began to 'click'. At first, my fear and poor basic skills made the going a bit tough, but as my conceptual understanding of the material grew, so did my enjoyment. I actually had fun in the class, aced the finals and made a B+ in the end!

It was only when I was taught math with a very concrete and physical applications approach that it all began to make sense for me. Before this class, the abstract use of letters and the like were utterly confusing. Oh, we still used the formulas and all in the class...but only after someone very carefully explained and even physically laid out what they meant (basically an accurate verbal definition)...micro step by micro step. I had spent so many years being afraid of math and feeling left out, that it was an immense relief when I finally realized I could do it.

I'm still verbally oriented, but I found that having a good teacher made all the difference...and good teachers are hard to find.



Mitrovah
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17 Jan 2014, 3:21 am

BornThisWay- EXACLTY, I can do sums, dividing and multiplying with pencil and paper, and when I worked as a cashier, my skills were a bit better because I was actually exercising my brain a bit :lol: . I can think in pictures but word problems still stump me. However I still feel closer to solving the problem if it is in a matter words and concrete situations as opposed to the abstract numbers. If I apply myself I can sort of do simple to medium algebra, the type taught in Junior high/grammar school, high school math? forget it. :wink:. My mother is really the only one who could teach me mathematics. Stuff like geometry radii and or triangle equations really stump me. I was just browsing computer science programs at universities and I saw I had to do calculus which really frightens the bejesus out of me. Could applied math help me start studying computer science Is there any possible hope for me to pursue this career despite my poor math skills?



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17 Jan 2014, 4:56 am

BornThisWay wrote:
I finally found out that all those formulas etc. in algebra are merely coded sentences describing curves on a flat plane, and then in trigonometry the system is pulled out into three dimensions, and movement is tossed in with calculus and etc. in the higher forms. No one had ever bothered to explain this to me before and with the physical applications approach, things finally began to 'click'.


This is extremely interesting. Where can I find out more about this?



superluminary
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17 Jan 2014, 6:15 am

Mitrovah wrote:
What is the deal? if I'm good at languages and philosophy but terrible at math could I do well in computer science? I tried reading logic statements in computer books and found them a little hard to follow because they are so rigid, but I wasn't really trying.


Hi Mitrovah,

I’m a programmer, I flatter myself I’m quite a good one. I am sadly not very good at maths, but I am very good at English. I know this because people pay me to write words for them.

When people ask me about programming, typically one of the first things they says is “isn’t that all about maths and stuff”, or words to that effect. I tell them no, programming is more like cooking. You have to think about a program logically, break it down into steps, and do each of the steps in order.

Say you’re making beans on toast. If you forget to take the toast out of the toaster before putting on the beans, or if you haven’t declared a toaster you’re going to have a problem.

At a basic level most programming consists of four things:

1. Variables, places where you can put data and manipulate it.
2. Conditionals, where you can choose what to do to your data.
3. Loops, where you can do things over and over.
4. Functions, where you can break out common sets of instructions, and call them over and over.

Different languages have slightly different constructs, but for a beginner, this covers it.

To find out if you could be a coder or not, I’d suggest you try to pick up a couple of languages. Processing is a nice one to start with, since it’s visual, aimed squarely at beginners, and fairly simple to get going with. From there you can progress to more interesting languages, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, Go, Erlang, Prolog, etc.

I’m still considering writing a book, Coding for Aspies. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more about it.

Best of luck with it!



other_worlds
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17 Jan 2014, 6:20 pm

I think my problem with programming or coding is that I sometimes struggle to see the bigger picture and HOW specific steps RELATE to the subsequent steps in the overall plan. Because of this, if I try to work with a coding language, I keep going back to questioning why I'm doing something or why something is the way it is.

In high school I took a basic Java class and could not really make any progress on the assignments, because things never felt clear to me. I wish I was better at seeing the big picture, that seems to be essential for being good with programming. I have trouble just doing things if I can't link them all together in my mind, so with coding it is like, I know I'm trying to do this specific snippet of a larger program, then I've got other students working on other parts, then we're supposed to work together to put our work into some sort of whole...how? How can I work on a part of something when I feel in the dark about the WHOLE of something?



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17 Jan 2014, 7:20 pm

superluminary wrote:
BornThisWay wrote:
I finally found out that all those formulas etc. in algebra are merely coded sentences describing curves on a flat plane, and then in trigonometry the system is pulled out into three dimensions, and movement is tossed in with calculus and etc. in the higher forms. No one had ever bothered to explain this to me before and with the physical applications approach, things finally began to 'click'.


This is extremely interesting. Where can I find out more about this?


Yes, please, anyone with more information of this sort!
i would love to understand the whole instead of getting lost in the details.
Got links? any direction would be great



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17 Jan 2014, 7:29 pm

slave wrote:
superluminary wrote:
BornThisWay wrote:
I finally found out that all those formulas etc. in algebra are merely coded sentences describing curves on a flat plane, and then in trigonometry the system is pulled out into three dimensions, and movement is tossed in with calculus and etc. in the higher forms. No one had ever bothered to explain this to me before and with the physical applications approach, things finally began to 'click'.


This is extremely interesting. Where can I find out more about this?


Yes, please, anyone with more information of this sort!
i would love to understand the whole instead of getting lost in the details.
Got links? any direction would be great


Yes, someone teaching with a "big picture" approach in regards to people with ASD, could probably help us learn far better. Being lost in details and questioning why I'm doing something is how I get so spun around and bogged down while trying to do math. In HS, my typical problem with math was being unable to finish assignments or tests on time, specifically due to the problems I just described. I'd fail a test because I only finished the first two or three problems within the time limit, because I couldn't really relate to what I was doing or see the big picture. Quite frustrating when your peers and teachers then go on to fluff their own egos by calling you stupid.

Aspies and ASD sufferers are not stupid, most of us just learn DIFFERENTLY.



slave
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17 Jan 2014, 8:23 pm

superluminary wrote:
Mitrovah wrote:
What is the deal? if I'm good at languages and philosophy but terrible at math could I do well in computer science? I tried reading logic statements in computer books and found them a little hard to follow because they are so rigid, but I wasn't really trying.


Hi Mitrovah,

I’m a programmer, I flatter myself I’m quite a good one. I am sadly not very good at maths, but I am very good at English. I know this because people pay me to write words for them.

When people ask me about programming, typically one of the first things they says is “isn’t that all about maths and stuff”, or words to that effect. I tell them no, programming is more like cooking. You have to think about a program logically, break it down into steps, and do each of the steps in order.

Say you’re making beans on toast. If you forget to take the toast out of the toaster before putting on the beans, or if you haven’t declared a toaster you’re going to have a problem.

At a basic level most programming consists of four things:

1. Variables, places where you can put data and manipulate it.
2. Conditionals, where you can choose what to do to your data.
3. Loops, where you can do things over and over.
4. Functions, where you can break out common sets of instructions, and call them over and over.

Different languages have slightly different constructs, but for a beginner, this covers it.

To find out if you could be a coder or not, I’d suggest you try to pick up a couple of languages. Processing is a nice one to start with, since it’s visual, aimed squarely at beginners, and fairly simple to get going with. From there you can progress to more interesting languages, JavaScript, Ruby, Python, Go, Erlang, Prolog, etc.

I’m still considering writing a book, Coding for Aspies. Feel free to PM me if you want to talk more about it.

Best of luck with it!


If you write that book you have at least one customer. I'd buy that from you in an attosecond.
:):):):)
I've already learned something with what you wrote in this thread....thanks!



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29 Jan 2014, 7:30 pm

Im kinda the same way im excellent at learning mulitple languages at an alraming rate Particularly Mandarin, I can do a little conversing in Hindi Tagalog French ans Spanish as well. I am Great at languages and Science but I suck horrible at math.


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Mitrovah
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31 Jan 2014, 12:39 pm

So i am thinking of becoming a PC technician. I figure it is a safe start in computer science. I will at least be able to find a better paying job I like and I could go further in the field if I believe Im capable. Would becoming a certified PC technician be the best start into computer science?



ForeverChanging
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01 Feb 2014, 12:53 am

Quote:
So i am thinking of becoming a PC technician. I figure it is a safe start in computer science. I will at least be able to find a better paying job I like and I could go further in the field if I believe Im capable. Would becoming a certified PC technician be the best start into computer science?


Well if you can understand the technical aspects without needing math then you should be fine.

Certified is probably better than non-certified if you're aim is a career and not a hobby or start-up.

But if you're working on hardware as a technician there's probably a lot of grunt-work involved there and I don't see how it could lead into working on software, if that's you're goal. But I don't know, that's all I can assume.

It's up to you since there is no "best way" in life. Sometimes even the best way is what looks to be the "worst way" on paper but has really good unexpected consequences, or side-affects.



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01 Feb 2014, 2:46 am

I have an almost-natural aptitude for working with computer hardware and software, yet I find that I struggle with understanding many mathematical concepts. For some reason people think this is strange. I think this is because a lot of people assume that fixing computers involves programming, when in reality, I've never been able to program anything beyond a simple batch file without assistance or online tutorials, and I've never needed to write a full-blown program to fix something on a computer.