Thread: Doing aweful in math, but decent in CS?

  1. #1
    The Right Honourable psychopath's Avatar
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    Mar 2004
    Where circles begin.

    Doing aweful in math, but decent in CS?

    To get a B.Sc at my university there are 6 math courses you need to complete; 3 Calculus courses, discreet math, linear algebra, and stats. I'm assuming it's like this most everywhere.

    The issue I'm having these days, is that I'm doing pretty good in my computer science courses, but doing really bad in math (some of which is prerequisite for later CS courses). I've got an A in my Data Structures & Algorithms course, and I B (I think) in my Logic course. On the other hand, Calculus III kicked my ass to the point of having to drop the course, and I'm just scraping by in discreet math.

    Have any of you run into this at all? And why is all that math required, when clearly you can do fairly well in CS (at least so far) without understanding much of the math you're supposed to?
    Last edited by psychopath; 11-04-2009 at 09:48 AM. Reason: typo
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  2. #2
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    Jul 2009
    I did moderate in some math classes and great in others. Calc I kicked my ass, but Calc II and Discrete Math were a breeze. I still don't understand/remember anything from linear algebra.

    On the CS side, I got all A's except for scientific and parallel computing, and that's only cause I missed a whole bunch of classes for personal reasons.

    The math does come in to play more in the later classes(the parallel computing class had a lot of really big maths, as did some of the Operating Systems class for scheduling algorithms). The thing is that they are used very very differently in the two classes(Math Vs. CS), and so you may learn the exact same thing two thousand times easier in a CS class than in a Math class.

    Have you talked with any of your CS professors about this? Chances are they know some tricks to help you out(both with the actual math, and with Uni stuff)

  3. #3
    l'Anziano DavidP's Avatar
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    Aug 2001
    Plano, Texas, United States
    This depends on what you want to do with your CS degree. There are many software engineering jobs out there that require little to no math knowledge. On the other hand, there are also many that require lots of math knowledge, so it depend where you want to go with your degree.

    In my experience, calculus is rarely used in Computer Science, although it is good to know. I think the basics of calculus are found all over the place, but really heavy calculus is rarely found in this field of study. Basically, you need to know the principles behind derivation and integration, but you rarely need to perform such operations.

    I find that linear algebra and statistics are much more common for me to use. These two courses came in handy quite a bit when I took classes regarding algorithms, artificial intelligence, and machine learning.
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