Programming with C
Helping Newton find love since 1972


Somewhere in the last few weeks of the semester, when lecturers were cramming topics before exams like train commuters during rush hour, we learned Newton's method. Used to approximate the roots of numbers, the method involves making an initial guess and then doing a series of calculations repeatedly by hand until the answers start to converge. It was at this moment that I thought, "This guy really needed a girlfriend." 


I had already enjoyed being exasperated by Newton for most of the term. Perhaps the fact that he was also a student of biblical studies made it more fun to critique him. Perhaps my deep, festering dislike of the universal gravitational constant spilled over onto the whole of calculus (how can you stuff so many units onto such a small number, with no explanation?).  But really I think it's because Newton's method seems like the sort of thing you do on a Friday night when all your buddies are snogging their girlfriends at the back of the theater during Dryden's Marriage à la mode, and they claim a horse ate your invitation.  


Whatever the reason, deep down in my heart of hearts, I'm glad Newton studied as he did. Calculus does make more sense and is usually more enjoyable than any of the other math I'm doing, and it's not technically even his method (neither is calculus, but hey, we're trying to reconcile here).

Jump forward to the 1970s when C programming language is invented and then again to the present when said language is being taught to first year engineering students, and we finally have some hope for Newt. One of our first assignments learning C was to write a program that could implement the Newton-Raphson method, and it was a surprisingly simple program to write. If Newton had lived today, he could've probably punched it out with time to spare during a pre-date perm at the salon.  

Alas, sometimes thinkers live ahead of their time and end up being lonely for it.  At least it's good to know society does usually... mostly... hopefully catch up. 

And love lives on.