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More math or CS?

  1. Apr 21, 2007 #1
    I'm trying to decide what courses to take for my last year. I'm only 2 courses away from a BS in math but I know i'm getting my CS degree. I would have to take a few courses in Real Analysis. But here's the problem: either I just have all computer science courses, have better job opportunities, and not have the math degree. But if I take math, I don't want to just take Real Analysis. I would rather take abstract algebra and probability theory. Then that only leaves a spot or two for computer science courses, courses like database concepts, operating systems, and software engineering. I mean I can do both, but then I wouldn't have taken the courses I would like to have taken necessarily. I don't feel that real analysis would contribute to anything that I'm interested in. But algebra, number theory, and probability theory WOULD. If I just take those then I end up with lots of math, but just a computer science degree. Does anybody understand my situation?
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 21, 2007 #2
    There is a required course you don't want to take for the math degree, but you'd like to have the math degree because of all the math you've taken. Sounds about right?

    If you're content in knowing that you know a lot of math, just get the CS degree. If you feel that the math BS will help you, suffer through the course you don't want to take. I suppose another option could be spending an extra semester. I guess the real question is, how bad do you want it?
  4. Apr 21, 2007 #3
    Well you see in the real world, saying that you've taken such and such, for some reason, is more creditable than saying that you know such and such. Unless you can demonstrate through time.
    Last edited: Apr 21, 2007
  5. Apr 21, 2007 #4
    So you're saying that it will help you to have the BS in math. So whats the problem then? Seems to me your mind is already made up.

    Good luck in any case
  6. Apr 21, 2007 #5
    I really don't know if it will. Like I said, I would prefer I guess just to pick out the math that would help me most and not worry about the degree. But then I would have just as many hours in math or more as math majors, but yet no degree.
  7. Apr 21, 2007 #6
    I am not sure why you can't do both, but i'm sure you have your reasons. As a former cs major(later switched to urban and regional planning), I can't really offer you much sound advice without asking more questions.

    First, what do you plan to do? I wanted to work in AI, so I took a lot of math courses related to time anyalsis and regressions. I also had a strong background in database management, just in case I didn't get into grad school. Do you want to data mine, maintain databases or something else? If you present us with more information about your goals after graduation, advice should be given more readily.
  8. Apr 21, 2007 #7
    Well I would like to someday possibly go into cryptology and coding theory, but if I'm unlucky and it's not possible then I'm willing to do a number of average cs-related jobs. That best sums it up.
  9. Apr 22, 2007 #8
    Having more CS courses does not necessarily mean you're going to have a better chance of finding a CS related job. This is a myth. I know people with pure math degrees programming for computer companies. Companies don't care about what courses you have taken, but what you're capable of doing.

    Of course, you still need to know the relevant material you have missed out.
  10. Apr 22, 2007 #9
    So am I really ok having both degrees, but on the computer science-side, not having too many applied-type courses that I mentioned previously (software engineering, database concepts, compilers, etc..)?
  11. Apr 22, 2007 #10
    I would not really miss taking stuff like software engineering and databases, as long as you end up with your CS degree, people aren't really going to scrutinize your transcript that closely.

    Though if you specifically intend to go into a career path that involves one of those subjects, it probably would be useful to take it. But if you're just aiming for something CS in general, I wouldn't worry too much about it.
  12. Apr 22, 2007 #11
    If you plan on being a Software Engineer you might want to consider the cse courses rather than the math courses.

    When I was job interview with IBM they didn't give a "hoot" what math courses I took nor what math courses I planned on taking.

    All they cared about was what core computer courses I took, such as AI, Operating Systems, Network Security, Programming Languages, Compiler Construction, Databases. Also what projects I was involved in school and out of school.

    I actually brought up a math course (discrete math/number theory) which is both a dual cse/math course and they said oh thats just an abstract math course right? I said yes it was all math but it had alot of strong induction, set theory, etc, Even though it was a cse course, it was still all math, thus they didn't care.

    He wanted me to list the core cse courses I've taken and electives luckly I still got the job even though I didn't have alot of core cse courses under my belt I did well on the programming exam.

    Also on a resume, I don't think you would have a special section under programming skills, entitled "Math skills" if your a comp sci major the employer already knows your good at math.
    Last edited: Apr 22, 2007
  13. Apr 22, 2007 #12
    I think I'll just take a few more math courses that I want to have on me. AND i'll take more core CS courses, probably operating systems, compilers, AI, and maybe database (even though it's boring). But I'm not going to worry about getting the math degree, and Just take math that is geared towards cryptology, coding theory and computer science.
  14. Apr 22, 2007 #13
    I'm disappointed Penn state stop offering their Compiler Design, no students would sign up for it because it was too hard hah grand
  15. Apr 22, 2007 #14
    The compilers course here is pretty tough. Well, maybe not tough, but it makes your weekends miserable, which is why I decided to take it later. But my weekends are still miserable. :grumpy:
  16. Apr 22, 2007 #15
    hah I hear you, the Comp Eng classes are what ruin my day. Computer Architecture >:(
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