Siblings or cousins? Mathematics and Computer Science, the relationship

Mathematics is a fundamental intellectual tool in computing, but computing is increasingly used as a key component in mathematics and there are obvious connections between computing and mathematics in the areas of numerical analysis, logic and number theory.

Computer science has had an impact on many branches of mathematics – replacing existing proofs by computer programmed mathematical objects has often led to improvements in an abstract theory, discrete mathematics has been given an added boost, and finally but perhaps most importantly the study of algorithms and the exploration of such by the use of computer programs has amplified.

Mathematics and computer programming have a positive correlation in regards to cognitive abilities such as problem-solving, reasoning and analytic process conceptualisation. There is a recognised relationship between success in procedural programming, mathematics proficiency and the cognitive development theory developed by Piaget. A strong mathematics background predicts success in programming (White, 2003). Studies have shown that math scores on the Scholastic Aptitude Test (SAT-M) and the American College Testing program (ACT) correlate with procedural programming course grades (White, 2003). Clements (1992, 1999) described a number of ways in which the appropriate use of Logo programming can help younger children. These include the development of higher levels of mathematical, especially geometric, thinking, problem-solving skills (Au and Leung, 1991) and enhanced social interaction (Yelland, 2003).



Au, Wing, K. and Leung, John P. (1991), Problem Solving, Instructional Methods and Logo Programming, Journal of Educational Computing Research, 7(4), pp. 455-467
Clements, D. and Meredith, J. (1992) Research on LOGO: Effects and Efficacy, Buffalo, NY: State University of New York.
Clements, D.H. (1999) The Future of Educational Computing Research: The Case of Computer Programming. Information Technology in Childhood Education Annual pp.147-179.
White, G. and Sivitanides, G., (2003) An Empirical Investigation of the Relationship Between Success in Mathematics and Visual Programming Courses, Journal of Information Systems Education, 14(4), pp.409-416
Yelland, N. (1997) ‘Creating Mathematical Contexts with Logo’, British Journal of Educational Psychology, 28(3), pp.222-224.


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