Thursday, August 14, 2008

Music is like Math, Literature is like Statistics

This post by Andrew Gelman on a talk by De Veaux on why there are no six year old novelists and why the title of this post is true.

Another from his blog
I pretty much think that any idea in programming can also apply to statistics
implies that Statistics is like Programming. (Hence, Programming is like Literature. QED!)

I can certainly see the point of this comment
John's strategy of debugging by deleting code is a good heuristic within almost any paradigm. I apply it to almost all my writing, actually - if a sentence reads awkwardly, I try cutting it. If the paragraph still makes sense, I probably didn't need it that much
And this passage from The Structure and Interpretation of Computer Programs also brings out the relationship between being able to write and being able to code (emphasis added)
Our design of this introductory computer-science subject reflects two major concerns. First, we want to establish the idea that a computer language is not just a way of getting a computer to perform operations but rather that it is a novel formal medium for expressing ideas about methodology. Thus, programs must be written for people to read, and only incidentally for machines to execute. Second, we believe that the essential material to be addressed by a subject at this level is not the syntax of particular programming-language constructs, nor clever algorithms for computing particular functions efficiently, nor even the mathematical analysis of algorithms and the foundations of computing, but rather the techniques used to control the intellectual complexity of large software systems.

Our goal is that students who complete this subject should have a good feel for the elements of style and the aesthetics of programming. They should have command of the major techniques for controlling complexity in a large system. They should be capable of reading a 50-page-long program, if it is written in an exemplary style. They should know what not to read, and what they need not understand at any moment. They should feel secure about modifying a program, retaining the spirit and style of the original author.

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