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Is it really necessary to make programming more accessible to non-programmers? (this is how interpret some of the introduction about making programming easier to a 'beginner')

How is it different from making structural engineering more accessible to non-structural engineers, dentistry more accessible to non-dentists, etc?

Take my latter question not so literally—I mean to ask what is wrong with everyone having their own profession as a result of their passions/natural talent?




I don't think this is a matter of making programming easier for people who are not interested in programming - I look at this as a study of how "normal" programming could be made to model how the human mind might think naturally.

Non-programmers often need to "program". For example, consider writing email filtering rules. The wording and flow could be improved with the learnings from this study. "Apply this label to this mail and all the ones like it, then archive all of those mails".


You would be surprised how much you can get away with by learning to work with the machine directly. The way that the human mind works without training is naturally ambiguous and chaotic. There are of course benefits to offloading some of the thinking and parsing to the compiler or interpreter whatever; that's why we have Python, because C and Assembly weren't enough.

But human beings have been inventing formal notations because they end up being the right tool for the job, most of the time, to guide thought, even if the upstart cost of using them takes some work. I suspect that being afraid of formality will gradually make you lose power over the computer, and will cause unpredictable results when it isn't crystal clear where the impedance to communication and understanding with the machine lies.

I'm all for the more declarative style of programming though, even if it doesn't resemble any particular natural language specifically (remember that papers like these still have a grand Anglo bias in their implementations – imagine the sparsity of a Chinese version of these studies, and the potential difference of the results!).


They need to "program," not program. The difference is key—people who can't write email rules just aren't "computer savvy" and that's not such a large issue with the new generations.

What seems to be happening is people trying to figure out how to make teaching programming easier—like the guy below who works as a TA. I wasn't a TA but I did help a lot of people in school with programming and other CS assignments, and I definitely noticed lots of people in the field for the wrong reason. Either because they thought they could make a lot of money or because their parents wanted them to do it—but they had no natural interest or talent and didn't understand anything. Some of them declared many times they "hate" math or science.

Why do we have to go out of our way to teach people like this computer science principles or programming? They aren't interested in it and don't think the right way. There are many other professions and schools out there, surely most people can find what they really are cut out for, right?


I work as a teaching assistant in a compsci 101 lab - I found this paper to be incredibly eye opening, and will hopefully help me link the intuitive thoughts people have with the specific language features they should be using. We just did a lab on lists and for loops, and this paper basically clarified what the issue most people were actually having, that they wanted to operate on the list in aggregate. While this paper does seem to be looking at potential changes for new languages, it's useful for more than that.

And what makes you think that these potential new language features won't make it easier for experienced programmers as well? Sure, everyone will eventually get their head around iterative loops, but should we not be using the most efficient language for our brains? At the end of the day, a non intuitive concept will have inherent overhead.


I taught javascript to an older person once, and I think for-loops are one of those things that people who studied programming think "are not so bad", but it's absolutely senseless and insane to outsiders.

I'm thinking

    var output = [];
    for (var i=0; i<listOfThings.length; i++) {
        var thing = listOfThings[i];
        var newThing = applyAction(thing);
        output.push(newThing);
    }
vs.

    listOfThings.map(thing => applyAction(thing));
and even that is a little bit iffy.


I replied to another guy, but it addresses your answer too.


Indeed, if there was something I could force the average person to learn it would not be computer programming, it would be mass balance or other elementary principles of accounting.

Input + Generation = Output + Consumption + Accumulation

It applies to so many problem domains. They should teach it in 5th grade.


"Is it really necessary to make programming more accessible to non-programmers?"

no, but it might be helpful for designing programming languages. not necessarily to make programming languages that're easier for beginners to use, but because there are two immediate entities that interact through a programming language, the computer and the programmer. so learning how humans naturally tend to formulate problems and solutions could be valuable for designing that interface.


Last I checked, dentists don't brush our teeth for us.

And all dentists, at one point, were non-dentists.


Yeah, but nobody set out to make dentistry easy for them, or to coach them through it when clearly they have no natural ability to learn the sciences required. Some people just don't get it.




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