There has been much talk about the rising importance of the so-called STEM subjects – Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics – in preparing students for the workforce and economy of the future. Increasingly, the STEM subjects are at the heart of the industrial and corporate world.
Mathematics and computer programming will serve as the two foundational pillars of all the STEM subjects, particularly in Singapore. The sciences as well as the engineering subjects all rely exclusively on mathematics for the computation and description of all physical processes. Increasingly, computer programming will also play a key foundational role in the STEM subjects. Every scientist, engineer and technologist will soon need to learn how to code.
The rise of machine learning and artificial intelligence is one of the primary reasons why coding and computer programming will play a pivotal role in not just the STEM subjects, but in every aspect of industry and the Singaporean economy. Machine learning and AI is being used to take manufacturing, finance, automation, and even customer service to the next level. In order to even begin using machine learning and AI tools, coding and programming is necessary. Engineers, scientists and mathematicians will need to double up as computer programmers.
Mathematics and computer programming complement each other. In order to be able to code effectively, you need to have firm grasp of algorithmic processes. Coding involves a great deal of logical thought processes and the ability to reason systematically. In the near future, it will be essential for everyone to be well versed in both subjects.
To pick up coding, I recommend starting with modern programming languages such as Python and C++, both of which are widely used to craft machine learning and AI tools. As for mathematics, a strong foundation in the subject should be built up during the schooling years. It is also increasingly common for adults in the workforce to find themselves having to brush up on mathematics and statistics in the course of their work, or to aid them in mastering the art of coding. Moving ahead, the educational industry should step up enrichment programs designed to teach mathematics and computer programming to all.