Math and a Programming Career

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20 Replies - 4044 Views - Last Post: 13 January 2009 - 09:06 PM

#1 Moonbat  Icon User is offline

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Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 10:27 AM

I'm currently in high school, and I plan on getting a Bachelor's in Computer Science when I go into college. There's a snag though; I suck at math.

I don't know if it's because I'm lazy or if genetics is playing a part in this, but all I know is that I don't do very well in math. My last math course, I barely got an 80 average.

I looked up the requirements for CS at my college of choice, and you need to take a couple math courses, like calculus. So here are my two questions:

1. If I get into CS in college, will calculus play a big part in the computer-related classes?

2. If I go into a career in programming (like working for a company) will I really need to be good at calculus and other advanced forms of math?

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Replies To: Math and a Programming Career

#2 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 10:32 AM

I can speak to the first part. Calculus in and of itself is not directly related to intro/medium programming courses. However the theory is VERY important. And will come directly into play when you need to write programs for series etc....
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#3 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 12:19 PM

I suck at math. Well, some of the higher stuff, anyway. If you think like Newton or Lebniz, Calculus makes sense; otherwise it's like a unified theory for stuff that was much simpler before they started messing with it. :P

Programing is primarily logic, and pretty simple logic at that. The math discipline it most resembles is geometry; proofs are like programs. To write a program, math is not usually needed. However, computer science is often taught by math geeks and they tend to overestimate their own importance. ;)

You need math for theory, like the infamous O notation. Again, math geeks.

For real life programming, you will find complex math in graphics and anything involving 3D like game engines and simulators. For most everything else, you barely approach algebra.

If you like programming, don't fear the math. Your passion for the good stuff will carry your through. We need more good programmers.
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#4 5thWall  Icon User is online

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 03:04 PM

My dad told me a story about his first programming class. On the first day someone raised their hand and asked the professor if they needed to be good at math to program. The professor, without skipping a beat, replied "Why? The computer can only count to one."

In all seriousness though, programming doesn't take a whole lot of math except for the theory part. Like baavgai said, most of the stuff approaches algebra.
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#5 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:03 PM

Quote

If you think like Newton or Lebniz, Calculus makes sense; otherwise it's like a unified theory for stuff that was much simpler before they started messing with it.


Don't go talking bad about my homies now ;)
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#6 Moonbat  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:19 PM

Thanks for the advice guys. But that still doesn't counter the fact that I'll have to still pass Calculus anyway (it's a required course for CS from what I've read) :(
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#7 KYA  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:26 PM

I just finished up Calc II. ARG its awesome!!! If you ever want help feel free to PM me. I got a 95% in that class. WOOT

I'm so looking forward to linear algebra next semester!
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#8 baavgai  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:46 PM

Every school will have math requirements for a computer major. Many moons ago the computer department was usually part of the math department. Math folks don't let go easy. Pythagoras killed those who left the cult... ;)

The most important ability for those who would work with computers is self teaching. Anyone can learn anything, if they can find a way to look at it that makes sense. If the instructor is incompressible, get Calc for dummies ( yes, it exists. ) Find a way to make it make sense. Above all, don't let it stop you. Math is only a part of what you need to do.

Instead, fear basic English because Steinbeck, Dickens, Austin, etc., are all boring as hell and you have to take that too. :P
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#9 Mike111  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 06:52 PM

Also, check out http://www.mathtutordvd.com/

Some of his stuff is available at BitTorrent sites so you can download it for free, maybe it can help you a little.
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#10 numerical_jerome  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 21 December 2008 - 11:46 PM

Don't worry too much, university instructors are (in my experience) about 2-3 decimal orders of magnitude more capable than their high school counterparts. While math can only help you in computing, the more useful topics are not scratched by any high school curricula, things like graph theory, combinatorics, discrete probability, counting (yes, counting), et cetera.

Long story short, you will need your basic algebra, assume calculus is a part of being a well educated human, and learn (or demand to be taught, as thats what you pay tuition for) formal logic and the broad spectrum of "discrete mathematics".

Note that this is the opinion of a "math geek" who programs, so take with a grain of salt.

-Jerome
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#11 Mikhail  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 22 December 2008 - 09:02 AM

Algebra came to be useful in programming for me, you know writing equations the correct way things like that I am pretty sure that you do know Order of Operations "PEMDAS" I am currently taking Calc I, I have not used any of that in programming but just by looking at that it will be useful when you reach advanced level of programming.
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#12 ayman_mastermind  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 23 December 2008 - 05:50 AM

moonbat, if you like computer programming and computers in general AND maths then you have to do CS, if you like computer programming and HATE maths(like me) you will have to do MIS, or IT. in MIS i study alot of CS courses involved in computers and programming yet very few maths and physics courses, in MIS instead of studying maths you only study one or two and study instead courses in management and you can still study the computer programming courses that CS students study but not all of them of course. In addition, at my university after completing my MIS requirements i can take extra CS courses and get a minor in CS alongside with my MIS. As long as you are enrolled in a good university then MIS would be a great major. Actually even in MIS i had to take a calculus course and it was not easy at all, but some universities do not require their MIS students to take calculus.
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#13 Gloin  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 26 December 2008 - 09:47 AM

I've definitely had more use of algebra than calculus in the computer courses I've taken. In some cases the algebra can become rather advanced. In a course about cryptography for example you encounter group- and ring- theory which most people (even here) don't know what it is. Discrete math is also widely used in programming.

Don't get discouraged though, I didn't have high grades in math until I started university but today I'm usually the one in class answering math-related questions. Just make sure you don't cheat yourself by skipping math-problems. Do all the problems and evetually you'll get it and exams won't be a problem. The secret is to count and count and count, it's usually not that difficult.
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#14 DoubleFission  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 26 December 2008 - 04:13 PM

Don't worry Discrete Math isn't TOO bad...

Most of the people in my class passed it, and those that didn't... well they just have to do it again next semester...
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#15 mikewood  Icon User is offline

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Re: Math and a Programming Career

Posted 26 December 2008 - 08:24 PM

Most hiring managers look for candidates with a CS degree from a ABET accredited curriculum. Most ABET curriculums require calculus I, II, and III, Linear Algebra, and fundamental statistics class.

Don't stress out about the math courses, many before you have had to take these classes and done well. All you need to do is attend the classes, ask questions, do the homework and you'll do fine at all the math classes you'll have to take.

There are several DVDs and math websites that can help you along the way.

Personally, I know professors that teach C++ that will have you code "math concepts", newton methods, linear algebra problems, GCD, Primes... etc...

Don't worry about it! They teach you what you need to know and with websites like DIC, there is plenty of folks that can help you.
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