The process of writing software will change the way you think

(written by lawrence krubner, however indented passages are often quotes). You can contact lawrence at:

Angus Deaton just won the Nobel Prize for Economics. For awhile I’ve said that writing computer code changes the way one thinks. So this caught my eye:

It was during my time at Bristol that John Muellbauer and I worked together on our book. The computer facilities at Bristol were terrible — the computer was a mile away, on top of a hill, so that boxes of punched cards had to be lugged up and down. I was told to get a research assistant, which was sensible advice, but I have never really figured out how to use research assistance: for me, the process of data gathering — at first with paper and pencil from books and abstracts — programming, and calculation has always been part of the creative process, and without doing it all, I am unlikely to have the flash of insight that tells me that something doesn’t fit, that not only this model doesn’t work, but that all such models cannot work. Of course, this process has become much easier over time. Not only are data and computing power constantly and easily at one’s fingertips, but it is easy to explore data graphically. The delights and possibilities can only be fully appreciated by someone who spent his or her youth with graph paper, pencils, and erasers.