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What Types and Levels of Math for Compsci?

  1. Jun 10, 2013 #1
    Hello everyone,

    I will be an incoming freshman next academic year at my local uni.

    I've been looking at and talking about majors with my friends and family and many mentioned that computer science was a very in demand, practical, and lucrative field (well, relatively lucrative, lol :tongue:).

    I've always been a very average math and science student in high school. I got mostly B's and A-'s, but rarely ever got an "A." To be honest, I think a lot of that had to do with work ethic, as I didn't always put in the long hours some of my peers did.

    Although I'm currently not as interested in other science fields as a potential major, computer science is the one "science" that really sounds intriguing to me. I've always loved working on computers and the thought of doing some kind of programming on one sounds quite neat to me.

    Anyhow, I am wondering what level and kinds of math would be needed to do computer science? How math savy do you guys think a person would have to be in order to do well in computer science?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 10, 2013 #2
    Being in the industry already, good luck trying to get the job you want without having a portfolio. Self teach yourself and build up your portfolio now if you want a chance. There are plenty of programmers but rare to find good ones. Math courses I would take freshman year:
    Calculus 1
    If you haven't already, take discrete mathematics ASAP
    And plan to start today, your time is limited and you need to work hard to get good.
  4. Jun 10, 2013 #3


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    Staff Emeritus
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    Gold Member

    Computer science makes pretty heavy use of some kinds of math, particularly discrete math, linear algebra, vector geometry, and the like. On the other hand, many pure math topics like real & complex analysis, abstract algebra, group theory, and differential geometry are not used at all.

    Have a look at the curriculum for the university you'd like to attend. Here's the curriculum for Virginia Tech's program, which is probably pretty similar to the programs at most other schools:


    It includes three semesters of calculus, plus linear algebra, vector geometry, discrete math, differential equations, and combinatorics. It also leaves some spots for elective classes, which may include some additional math. I suppose you could say the CS curriculum is maybe 25% math, and most of the required classes are pretty easy by the standards of pure math majors. You can do it!

    - Warren
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