Programmig Newbie....where to start?


K

Kohtro

My first post.

Im currently a healthcare provider looking to learn programming. Why?

1. I trade the financial markets. Close to 70% of all trading that takes place daily is done via algorithms. Also, having programming abilities will allow me to remove the human factor (psychology: greed and fear) from my trading decisions.

2. I have ideas for medical equipment and would like to use programming to bring these ideas to fruition.

3. And the most important reason is I have a creative side. (No...its not a god complex) Its just I can't think of any other field of study that removes some many boundaries to creative input. Hope that makes since.

4. Lastly, I wont to do this for me. I have no desire to work for anyone/company.

I realize this will take time. Perhaps 2-3 three yrs before I program anything of value that I/the world can use. And maybe 10-15yrs more before I truly understand programming. But I am willing to work hard.

What I ask from the group is, considering my objectives above, where should I start? C,python, college course, private tutor, online, books????

Your advice is greatly appreciated.

Sincerely,

Kohtro

PS. Anyone here offering tutoring via online?
 
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S

Stefan Ram

Kohtro said:
What I ask from the group is, considering my objectives above, where should I start?

If you have Microsoft® Office, VBA is a good place to start
programming fast and even be able to create GUIs soon, and
it has a nice debugger. However, programs will only run
under Microsoft® Office. It might be a good place to start
programming for some weeks. Possibly, you already can do
everything with it, and, then, there is no need to change
the language at all. Otherwise,

Java has a garbage collector and a huge standard library and
user base. So, you can get things done, albeit not as easy
as in VBA, but it runs on many platforms. It might be the
best choice as a second language after some weeks with VBA,
when VBA should not be sufficient.

C does not have a garbage collector, so writing code with
dynamic memory allocation for in-memory graphs can become
much harder. The standard library will not allow you to
portably read directories or web pages (both was possible in
either VBA or Java using standard libraries). So you often
have to choose and become dependent on third-party libraries
or do non-portable direct OS calls. C does not check array
bounds (as VBA and Java), so C programs often have buffer
overruns. This is a language for hardcore programmers only
who are really willing to pay a price to write GUI programs
which run a little bit faster than Java or do system-level
programming.
 
R

rescattered

My first post.



Im currently a healthcare provider looking to learn programming. Why?



1. I trade the financial markets. Close to 70% of all trading that takes place daily is done via algorithms. Also, having programming abilities will allow me to remove the human factor (psychology: greed and fear) from my trading decisions.



2. I have ideas for medical equipment and would like to use programming to bring these ideas to fruition.



3. And the most important reason is I have a creative side. (No...its not a god complex) Its just I can't think of any other field of study that removes some many boundaries to creative input. Hope that makes since.



4. Lastly, I wont to do this for me. I have no desire to work for anyone/company.



I realize this will take time. Perhaps 2-3 three yrs before I program anything of value that I/the world can use. And maybe 10-15yrs more before I truly understand programming. But I am willing to work hard.



What I ask from the group is, considering my objectives above, where should I start? C,python, college course, private tutor, online, books????



Your advice is greatly appreciated.



Sincerely,



Kohtro



PS. Anyone here offering tutoring via online?

C is the best starting point if you want a really good foundation and are willing to wait to be productive. Python is the best starting point if you want to be able to make genuinely useful programs within a few months of learning it.

As a health-care provider (assuming that this means that you have a good
foundation in biology) you might want to check out the book "BioinformaticsProgramming using Python" by Mitchell Model to get a good feel for how a language like Python can be used in the life sciences. Python.org contains links to numerous tutorials.

I would recommend learning both Python and C, alternating between the two (say a month on each before switching, long enough to get immersed in one language but not so long that you forget the other in the meantime). To connect the two courses of study -- strive to learn what the C-Python interpreter is doing under the hood (but only once you get a certain facility in both). In addition to giving you a broad perspective it is a genuinely useful pairing of skills. For one thing, good Python programmers sometimes need to write functions in C which can be called from Python since sometimes this is the only way to make the Python code fast enough. For another, it is often nice to be able to write a quick prototype of an algorithm in Python before you invest the time needed to write it in C (which often takes substantially longer to program in).
 
M

Malcolm McLean

Im currently a healthcare provider looking to learn programming. Why?

1. I trade the financial markets. Close to 70% of all trading that
takes place daily is done via algorithms. Also, having programming
abilities will allow me to remove the human factor (psychology: greed
and fear) from my trading decisions.
Pretty much any language will express your financial algorithms (if a
stock falls below a certain value, buy, if you're holding more than
a certain proportion of the portfolio any any one sector, diversify,
etc). The question is how you're going to get the data into the
program, and, possibly, if you need to trade automatically, as opposed
to simply outputting text instructions, how you're going to
execute trades.
2. I have ideas for medical equipment and would like to use programming
to bring these ideas to fruition.
Depends how much you know or are willing to learn about electronics.
For most medical-type equipment, the software is just one component,
the device also has to be designed and built. Some applications are
highly processor-intensive, e.g. signals-processing type work for
hearing aids, with others it's just a case of switching a few LEDS
on and off when sensors go above or below certain values.

You can't go wrong with C for this general area, however.
3. And the most important reason is I have a creative side. (No...
its not a god complex) Its just I can't think of any other field of
study that removes some many boundaries to creative input. Hope
that makes since.
Some programs are basically artistic expressions, other are "functional
devices", and there's plenty of room for creativity in both the
technical and the artistic sense. However you need to be aware that
a lot of commercial programs have massive resources invested in them,
which as an individual you will be unable to match.
 
B

Ben Bacarisse

Malcolm McLean said:
Pretty much any language will express your financial algorithms

That may be true of financial algorithms (I don't know enough about such
things) but as a general remark it hides a common misconception. Pretty
much any language can be used to calculate the same results, but an
algorithm is a method of getting a result, and not all methods can be
expressed in all languages, at least not without stretching the meaning
of the words beyond reason.

<snip>
 
M

Malcolm McLean

That may be true of financial algorithms (I don't know enough about such
things) but as a general remark it hides a common misconception. Pretty
much any language can be used to calculate the same results, but an
algorithm is a method of getting a result, and not all methods can be
expressed in all languages, at least not without stretching the meaning
of the words beyond reason.
I was assuming relatively straight forwards trading logic which can be
expressed in terms of rules and basic statistical operations.

If you mean high-end machine learning, mathematical modelling, and so
on, then yes, you'd need to think in terms of specialised packages.
 
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N

Noob

That may be true of financial algorithms (I don't know enough about such
things) but as a general remark it hides a common misconception. Pretty
much any language can be used to calculate the same results, but an
algorithm is a method of getting a result, and not all methods can be
expressed in all languages, at least not without stretching the meaning
of the words beyond reason.

The statement "not all methods can be expressed in all languages" is
ambiguous (to me).

Do you mean

1) there are some methods that cannot be expressed in any language

2) there are some methods that can be expressed in (at least) one language,
but not in (at least) another language

3) perhaps both

4) something else

Regards.
 
B

Ben Bacarisse

Noob said:
The statement "not all methods can be expressed in all languages" is
ambiguous (to me).

Do you mean

1) there are some methods that cannot be expressed in any language

No, I was not thinking about such boundary cases. For a method
(algorithm) to be know at all, I would argue that it must be expressed
in some sort of semi-formal language, even that's just pseudo-code. But
if by language you mean a properly implemented programming language,
then yes.
2) there are some methods that can be expressed in (at least) one language,
but not in (at least) another language

Yes. This is what I meant.
3) perhaps both

Depends on the details in 1, but I really only intended to mean 2.
4) something else

No.
 
N

Noob

No, I was not thinking about such boundary cases. For a method
(algorithm) to be know at all, I would argue that it must be expressed
in some sort of semi-formal language, even that's just pseudo-code. But
if by language you mean a properly implemented programming language,
then yes.

Sorry, I meant "programming language".

Do you have an example (or several) of an algorithm that can be expressed
semi-formally in a "human" language (say, English) but that cannot be
expressed in any programming language?

Can you give an example (or several) of an algorithm that cannot be
implemented in C or in assembly language?

On a somewhat related tangent, I remember reading about the computer-assisted
proof for the four color theorem.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_color_theorem#Proof_by_computer

Regards.
 
S

Stefan Ram

Noob said:
Can you give an example (or several) of an algorithm that cannot be
implemented in C or in assembly language?

The traversal of a file system can be expressed in Java SE,
but not in C.
 
N

Noob

The traversal of a file system can be expressed in Java SE,
but not in C.

You would argue that the following program is not written in C?
What language is it written in? POSIX C?

#include <dirent.h>
int main(void)
{
DIR *dir = opendir(".");
return 0;
}
 
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K

Kenny McCormack

You would argue that the following program is not written in C?
What language is it written in? POSIX C?

#include <dirent.h>
int main(void)
{
DIR *dir = opendir(".");
return 0;
}

Absoluately not C.

In the religion of CLC, that stuff you wrote above is not C.

I'm not making this up; I'm not crazy. I'm just telling you the truth
about what the mavens of CLC have been saying, consistently, for over 2
decades now.

As Kiki is fond of saying, just because a language uses curly braces,
doesn't mean it is C.

--

There are many self-professed Christians who seem to think that because
they believe in Jesus' sacrifice they can reject Jesus' teachings about
how we should treat others. In this country, they show that they reject
Jesus' teachings by voting for Republicans.
 
M

Malcolm McLean

Absoluately not C.

In the religion of CLC, that stuff you wrote above is not C.

I'm not making this up; I'm not crazy. I'm just telling you the truth
about what the mavens of CLC have been saying, consistently, for over 2
decades now.
But there is a sensible distinction between functions which can be written in pure C,
and functions which can't be.

I've been trying to get people to understand it for the past week.
 
B

Ben Bacarisse

Noob said:
Sorry, I meant "programming language".

Do you have an example (or several) of an algorithm that can be expressed
semi-formally in a "human" language (say, English) but that cannot be
expressed in any programming language?

I may be behind the curve here, but Peter Shor's quantum integer
factorisation algorithm can't, I think, be expressed in any current
programming language.

To get more abstract, algorithms written for an oracle machine, can't
usually be written in real programming languages. The classic being a
TM halting decider.
Can you give an example (or several) of an algorithm that cannot be
implemented in C or in assembly language?

Is your change of wording deliberate? I was talking about expressing an
algorithm, not implementing it. For example, here is one way to express
an algorithm whose value is the Fibonacci sequence (all of it!) in
Haskell:

fib = 1 : 1 : map (uncurry (+)) (zip fib (tail fib))

Now, this works on my machine, so it's implementable using just the
instructions my CPU executes, but it can't, I contend, be expressed in C
without totally distorting the meaning of the word "express".

<snip>
 
J

James Kuyper

You would argue that the following program is not written in C?
What language is it written in? POSIX C?

#include <dirent.h>
int main(void)
{n
DIR *dir = opendir(".");
return 0;
}

I can see your point, but I also see Stefan's. All that opendir(".")
implements is a function call, not the traversal of a file system. The
function opendir() itself might or might not be written in C, but if it
is written in C, it must, indirectly or indirectly, execute something
that is NOT portable C code, in order to implement the actual opening of
the directory. There is no C language construct that has, as it's
standard-defined behavior, the opening of a directory.
 
K

Keith Thompson

Malcolm McLean said:
But there is a sensible distinction between functions which can be
written in pure C, and functions which can't be.

I've been trying to get people to understand it for the past week.

Is that what you've been saying?

Of course that's true. What makes you think anyone doesn't
understand it?
 
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K

Kaz Kylheku

Sorry, I meant "programming language".

Do you have an example (or several) of an algorithm that can be expressed
semi-formally in a "human" language (say, English) but that cannot be
expressed in any programming language?

Such an example would be a *counterexample* to Ben's claim; why should
he be asked to produce it himself?

Every algorithm is essentially written in a programming language
that could, in theory, be directly executed.

If not, then it's not formal enough to be called an algorithm.
Can you give an example (or several) of an algorithm that cannot be
implemented in C or in assembly language?

You are changing the topic from "express" to "implement" which
are completely different.
 
B

Ben Bacarisse

Kaz Kylheku said:
Such an example would be a *counterexample* to Ben's claim; why should
he be asked to produce it himself?

As you can see, I answered (1) with both no and yes, depending on what
was meant by "language" so I took this request to be asking for an
example of where I'd said yes.

<snip>
 
M

Malcolm McLean

Such an example would be a *counterexample* to Ben's claim; why should
he be asked to produce it himself?
What he's asking for is a description of a program or function, which "you can't
write in C". That's literally impossible, of course, because of the theorem of
Turing equivalence :) But maybe someone can come up with something that
can't reasonably be written in C.
 
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K

Keith Thompson

Ben Bacarisse said:
Is your change of wording deliberate? I was talking about expressing an
algorithm, not implementing it. For example, here is one way to express
an algorithm whose value is the Fibonacci sequence (all of it!) in
Haskell:

fib = 1 : 1 : map (uncurry (+)) (zip fib (tail fib))

Now, this works on my machine, so it's implementable using just the
instructions my CPU executes, but it can't, I contend, be expressed in C
without totally distorting the meaning of the word "express".

Hmm.

I can imagine something like this:

struct lazy_evaluated_list {
/* blah blah */
};

along with a bunch of auxiliary declarations that let you build and
manipulate these lists.

You clearly can't translate that Haskell code to C code with anything
like the same simplicity, but I think you can write C code that
corresponds to it fairly closely.

(At worst, you can just write a Haskell implemention in C; perhaps
that's cheating.)
 

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