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Theorems and proofs...

When studying a computer science book, how important is it, in everyone's opinion, to carefully read and understand the proofs of theorems?

Is it sufficient to only understand the theorems and their implications (how they are used and so forth)?

I guess the answer depends on one's intentions -- for the moment, I'd like to simply be able to write programs well.

I guess the more general question I also have in mind is: Is it feasible or worthwhile to teach oneself large amounts of computer science material? Can you really be self-taught?

Sometimes I feel like I'm wasting my time with these books.

Warren Henning
Sunday, January 19, 2003

My advice: think of your computer classes as "mental fitness."

Leonardo Herrera
Sunday, January 19, 2003

I don't have any classes (I wish I did).

Right now, it has to be independent study.

Warren Henning
Sunday, January 19, 2003

If you read and understand the proof you will remeber the theorum forever and solve similar problems in the future.

If you do not then you do not "understand" the theorum at all, you have memorized the result and will forget it. Further you will never solve any similar problems.

In thr real world case is ever like the any theorum, you need the experience of proving theorums in order to solve the real case from basic principles.

Anonymous Coward
Sunday, January 19, 2003

It depends on the proof.  Some proofs are basically the line of reasoning you'd normally use, and others are witty arguments that require a bit of knowledge or a strange angle.  For non-math people, those witty ones are often useless in the end.

But in an intro CS book, especially one with "proof ideas," it shouldn't be a bad thing to look at them.  But if it bores you, you could skip the proofs at first, and look through when you're done to see if the proofs become obvious to you.

Monday, January 20, 2003

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