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Is it a good idea to major in computer science and pure math

  1. Feb 26, 2016 #1
    I am not an expert in the field, but intuitively I think that a resume with both math and computer science has a lot of impact. I also think that math can help me understand computer science better. Next quarter, I am planning to take classical geometry, so I am just wondering if this class would help me in CS.
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 26, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    Only if you were getting into computer graphics. The proofs that are done in Geometry help with logical thinking but geometry will mostly help you when you graphical programming or 2D/3D modeling programs/simulations.
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2016
  4. Feb 26, 2016 #3
    I have time and room for a second career that doesn't take too long such as mathematics. What would be the best career complement for CS?
  5. Feb 26, 2016 #4


    Staff: Mentor

    I did physics and comp sci although my original thought was the other way round. I graduated and then started doing programming so all the math I had with variables and formulas and working with linear algebra translated easily into writing Fortran programs (1970's).

    Later I got into simulations where my Differential Equations stuff helped. Now my style is more descriptive variable names, OO and some fundamental OO design patterns.

    An interesting distinction of the 1970's was that science base programmers often used one and two letter variable names and handled arrays easily whereas business majors getting into programming used much longer more descriptive variable names and had trouble with tabular or higher indexing.

    Having said all that, I think Boolean math and Set theory would help. Math related to Finite State machines is another good course as is compiler design which gets into recognizing patterns and thinking recursively.

    You are right to think Comp Sci, as companies are more likely to hire a Comp Sci than a math major. Also its better to have a Comp Sci MS than a BS which in a companies mind means you have more training than someone with a BS.

    Don't get me wrong, whatever math you take will help you in Comp Sci its just that it won't necessarily help you get a job but it will help you in doing your job. You see the distinction.

    There's a notion that companies have as they try to decide on candidates namely they don't want to hire half a programmer if they want a programmer so in that case you must be a programmer who has some math instead of someone who has a foot in both camps.

    Wait for other posters to comment too as things have changed since I started out and perhaps companies think a little different now.
  6. Feb 27, 2016 #5
    Not really. Consider that most candidates you will be competing against will have degrees in computer science. Hiring managers are unlikely to be impressed with a degree in pure math. Proof writing is not something you will be doing in a software engineering job. However, if you want a job in academia pure math is great, if you like theoretical computer science.

    Personally, I don't really care what technical degree a candidate has. I care about whether he can do the job.

    Maybe, but in my experience it won't help. Courses in discrete math, combinatorics, and graph theory would be far more useful.

    If you want to be a software developer, spend your extra time developing practical skills that you won't learn in academia. Develop a portfolio of applications that you can show potential employers. Showing a hiring manager what you have done and can do will give you a leg up on your competition. A second major in pure math won't.
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