# Does Elec Engineering need calc (multi variable, diff equations, etc)

 P: 1 Hi guys, I'm a transfer student, and I've wanted to do electrical engineering. My only problem is i love the idea of circuit boards and hardware, but math really isnt my enjoyment, and i just kinda passed the classes without much understandment. Do electrical engineers actually need math like differential equations, multivariable calc, linear algebra or do we just do that to get our minds thinking and the juices flowing in our brains. I really want to work with hardware, and im wondering where i stand. I know what i've done, and i do regret just bsing through the math courses without learning much, but i did get accepted to a university for elec engineering, and im wondering does electrical engineering really need this math stuff or are we going to learn what these hardware items do? Like am i ever going to do infinite series, polar coordinates, or something from a differential eqn class or do i get a clean start, and learn electrical engineering from the ground up? thanks.
 P: 661 In any engineering, you can do 98% by multiply or divide. Then 1% would have needed maths but you find some turnaround, like a dirty Excel sheet, or a coarse model of which you decide to ignore the accuracy. And then you have the last 1% which you must abandon if you lack the necessary maths. To be fair, I should add the 900% that are unfeasible to anyone by math because our world is too complicated for us. End of parenthesis. For that last 1% it is worth learning maths. More so in electrical engineering, where theories tend to work better than elsewhere. Just think of fluid mechanics: they would be very happy to have the stability theory of electrical engineering.
 P: 3,898 Does Elec Engineering need calc (multi variable, diff equations, etc) It's not about actual calculation. You can't understand EM without vector calculus. It is explained in calculus because it started as calculus. You cant' start to understand signal processing, transfer functions and communications without strong background of Fourier and Laplace transforms. People TRYING to explain in a simple way, but as you dig deeper into it, things get really confusing. Try reading some books that are supposed to be simple on RF and EM, you'll find really fast you get stuck. A lot of engineer just know how to do things, but can't explain it. There will be an invisible ceiling that most of them cannot go beyond and cook book approach that mostly solves common problem and designs. Yes, you can find cook book and use method to solve problems, but you really don't understand. It's the feel that you don't get if you don't have the math background. Case in point, in all EM books like Griffith or Cheng, there is a chapter after statistic electric field that start talking about boundary condition and image. I found I have new appreciation after studying PDE. It's all about boundary condition!!! People talk about E and H field propagation. But a lot of magic is from the boundary condition. The transformation of EM wave to current and voltage is all from the boundary condition. Also transmission and reflection of EM wave. Yes, after you learn it, you don't use it much as there are simulation program. But it's the understanding that bring you to a different level of appreciation and that ultimately help you when you design circuit. Also, and this is even more important. All the advanced books, articles on EM, communication and RF are written in calculus. You won't understand the stuff if you don't know calculus. I know, I did it the other way around for 30 years. I can tell you how much I feel I had missed after studying back all the math. Believe me, I don't like Math, I was in the same boat of the OP for 30 years. I just hit too many ceiling when I try to study more advanced books. I couldn't get away. I didn't spent almost 2 years studying math for my health!!!
 P: 2,251 short answer from me is "yes, definitely".
 P: 3,898 Enthalpy is correct about you really don't use calculus in real life job that often.....hardly. You have all the simulation programs to do that for you. Calculus should be treated as a language of science, much like English for business, law and everything else. You learn calculus, it's like learning a language of science where without it, you can't really understand the materials, it's like as if it's a foreign language!!! People have kind of a miss conception that math is math, engineering is engineering, that math is something totally different, that it meant for punishing you!!!! Math is something that is "invented" or "developed" when there is a need in scientific application. Don't quote me on this, I read somewhere the subject of vector calculus was developed partly because of the Maxwell's equation. It was for clearing up and give better explanation for the Maxwell's eq. It is not the other way around that people stick the vector calculus in to make life harder. A lot of scientific discovery is straightly from math, any simple explanation in English is mostly an interpretation of the calculus. You have to be careful because from my experience, this only work in relative simple stuff. I remember just few days ago when I watch the History channel about Einstein while he was working on the relativity thingy, they were saying that he could spent days thinking calculus in his head and they show some of the formulas of differential equations etc. It is from math, calculus to real world result, not getting the result and then put in the calculus to make life difficult for people!!! I can really sympathize with the OP, I was like him. I spent over two years of my life studying calculus for the love of electronics, not that I like math at all!!!
P: 315
appleb,

 Do electrical engineers actually need math like differential equations, multivariable calc, linear algebra or do we just do that to get our minds thinking and the juices flowing in our brains.
If you just want to just be a technician/solderer/assembly line worker, then you can get by with minimum math. To achieve the understanding that an engineer/designer needs, then you will be lost without those basic math disciplines, especially differential equations. Differential equations need calculus. Calculus needs algebra. Algebra needs arithmetic achievement. Get it?

Ratch
 P: 17 Electrical Engineering, with all its varied disciplines, need concentrated amount of math especially calculus. In my university, we have 5 math courses that are required by the electrical engineering department. 4 of these courses are dedicated to calculus, from basic integration and differentiation all the way up to vector calculus, passing by double and triple integrals, series and sequences, and the rest of the stuff. The remaining math course is dedicated to differential equations. Also, different disciplines in EE have different ratios of calculus use. For example, in digital design, you don't use anything related to calculus, you only use boolean algebra. However, in electromagnetics, you find youself trapped in calculus, especially in vector calculus. You go to communication systems, you find yourself needing fourier transforms, and that's how it goes. This gives an idea that if you want to make it to research level, you will use different ratios of calculus depending on your research topic, so things will get narrower as you go up, but also will get more complicated. On another topcic, let's not forget complex analysis, We were given a course that's almost dedicated to complex analysis. However, I still don't know where it will be useful, things like residue integration. Take a look at this calclus for electric circuits page In a nutshell, there's nothing scary or difficult in all these math courses. They only need dedication and regular studying.
 P: 3,898 There is a lot of use of complex numbers in EE, but to my knowledge, unless you go for really advanced Electrodynamics and study the Classical Electrodynamics by JD Jackson, I don't see the need of Complex Analysis. For post grad, numeric analysis can get important as a lot of the problem cannot even be solved by conventional calculus. Bessel and Lagendre function are amount those. San Jose State U barely touch it in their PDE class. Also The Green's function is important for more advanced EM. I do have Complex Analysis in mind as my ultimate goal is to study the JD Jackson book. that's is the Mt. Everest of EM.

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