RaspberryPi Founder says programming makes you a better doctor

Go read for yourself.

Now for my comments. He’s right – but I’d clarify a bit as I did on the report I wrote when I was doing program reviews in schools around Rhode Island.

You do not need advanced math to program a computer. You need to know the four basic functions, addition, subtraction, multiplication and division and perhaps the modulo function.

If you’re not sure what modulo is I’ll explain. It is a function that when given a numerator and denominator will return a remainder.


10 mod 1 = 0

10 mod 2 = 0

10 mod 3 = 1

10 mod 4 = 2

10 mod 5 = 0

10 mod 6 = 4

10 mod 7 = 3

10 mod 8 = 2

10 mod 9 = 1

10 mod 10 = 0

You see the pattern there don’t you.

So knowing the four basics and modulo are all you need.

Then there are a few functions available in several languages that help you out. In BASIC there’s the INT function. It returns the integer value of a variable. E.g. INT(3.14159) will get you 3.

But start programming and you’ll learn about arrays, lists, string manipulation, etc. Go and take the Udacity Intro to Programming course. It’s a seven week program but at the end of it you’ll get a view of how programming works using Python, one of the up and coming languages out there.

And now for some snark:

By 2005, when Upton had completed his studies and was himself interviewing undergraduates at Cambridge, this was no longer the case. If applicants had experience “coding,” this typically amounted to writing some HTML for the web (which isn’t programming), perhaps with a touch of back-end development in a few cases. Upton complained that, since that time, a chunk of the limited 60 weeks total term-time available for an entire undergraduate degree has to go on teaching the basics. Cambridge University, you’ll have realized, has notably short terms.

Now my snarkiness – yep, I’m not a webbie and in fact I consider those who only know HTML and maybe CSS not to be programmers too. I can program in several languages including PERL, Python, PHP, Visual BASIC, and even COBOL! I also understand MySQL and MS-SQL pretty well – enough to tie them to web services etc.

And to this day people are impressed by my mathematical ability. All because I’ve been programming computers since I was 13 years old, which makes it 35 years.

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