Monday, June 17, 2024

What Type Of Math Do Software Engineers Use

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Do you need Math for Software Engineering? (ft. Ex-Google Math Major)

When you look at the curriculum of any undergraduate engineering degree, math classes are sure to be part of the program. Students majoring in engineering should anticipate taking a greater number of math courses than whats mandated by the schools general education course standards, including more complicated math coursework than many of their peers in other majors will have to complete.

As an engineering major, you will almost certainly need to complete a sequence of calculus classes. Calculus I and II are essential. Beyond these calculus courses, either Calculus III or a course in multivariate or multivariable calculus is a common part of the curriculum. Differential equations are also common classes in many engineering disciplines. Linear algebra is another common math course requirement for students of engineering.

Its worth noting that, in many undergraduate engineering degree plans, the math classes students are required to take can be completed before the end of their sophomore year of study. With course numbers typically in the 100s and 200s, these math classes arent upper-division classes that are meant only for juniors and seniors and that delve deep into high-level, complex mathematics. The math classes that are officially required for engineering degrees are often lower-division courses, although the upper-level classes you complete in your major will be based on some of these underlying mathematical concepts.

IMAGE SOURCE: Pixabay, public domain

Math Used In Everyday Software Development

You may have heard people claim that you dont need to be good at math to succeed as a developer. Others will insist that the opposite is true and that a solid mathematical foundation is essential for truly efficient programming.

The reality is somewhere in the middle.

Certain roles within the software development field require a higher level of mathematical understanding than others. For example, a role such as a machine learning engineer will require a greater understanding of mathematical concepts than a web developer. However, most of the day-to-day tasks within software development do not require a deep understanding of mathematics.In other words, while having a strong mathematical foundation is definitely beneficial, its not necessary for every developer role.

Does Knowing Math Help

I previously mentioned I was particularly interested in Math when I was in my high school and college years. Whenever there were complex Math problems, it required a solution I could come up with by understanding first a high level of abstraction.

What do you mean by high level of abstraction? A high level of abstraction allows you to have an overall understanding of a problem. For example, what is the high level of abstraction for the problem of constantly having delays at an airport? Lets bring this hypothesis:

An airplane arrives at the airport. The passengers arriving at their destination step out of the aircraft. Then, there is a general maintenance check of the aircraft. If the aircraft is in good condition, the airport workers will start fueling the airplane. If the left-wing has torn, maintenance workers will work to fix the left-wing. If they fix it on time prior to the next flight, there are no delays. However, oftentimes the aircraft needs to go through an additional check prior to giving the thumbs up to allow onboarding.

Lets keep this hypothesis for now and see the high level of abstraction simplified:

Airplane -> Airport -> Maintenance -> OnBoarding -> Take Off

Understanding the high level of abstraction, which trained me while I was challenged to find solutions to Math problems, has helped to develop solutions at the software level. In the end, software engineering is all about abstraction when you start learning about it.

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Math Is Not Necessary For Software Development

Sometimes, I tweet. When I tweet, sometimes people agree with me. One such occasion happened recently when I said this.

Modern software development has way more to do with reading comprehension and written communication than math.

Ross Hunter

This was part of a string of tweets that was kicked off by seeing the following image tweeted by Sara Chipps.

I think the main thing to take away from that image is that if you are looking for a new career and you arent involved computer science or mathematics, you should be, and I hope my post here encourages you to get involved, especially if math has been scaring you away . It also means we should be providing more and better training for these jobs but thats another post entirely.

So heres my question about that chart, why are computer science and mathematics combined? Why are computer science and mathematics always combined? In my day-to-day as a developer I rarely do what I would call math. Now admittedly, computer science is different than software development, but I dont think laypeople know that. I dont think that high school kids who are deciding what do do with their lives know that. Our industry desperately needs more talented developers and it turns out that the skills that make a good mathematician dont necessarily line up with the skills that make a good software developer.

What Kind Of Maths Is Really Necessary For Computer Science

Using Engineering Math Software to Count Halloween Calories

Well, the answer to the above question totally lies in the area of CS you are interested in. But in general, these are the following areas that you must build a strong grip.

  • Subjects like Concrete Mathematics is important as, it covers a lot of discrete mathematics, number theory, combinatorics, and probability.
  • Linear Algebra is everywhere, and worth covering.
  • Graph theory, think about it.

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Communication Skill To Be A Team Player

You can not work in isolation when you are a software engineer. A good developer is always a team player who knows how to collaborate, lead, or build the team with the right people. In a summary, clear communication, it can be- written or oral, is a most prioritized skill of a coder. The reason is, a programmer has to convey data to the design, marketing, or content team.

Whats The Level Of Math Used By Engineers Versus All Working Americans

Compared to all working Americans, engineers use a lot of math.

Below is Michael Handels data from his STAMP survey, to infer and compare. The table shows the percentage of types of math Americans use most at work. And I bet the more advanced math is more often used by engineers.

Math types used by Americans at work Amount of math types used by Americans at work
Any math
Calculus 5%

Not surprisingly, most Americans use basic arithmetic. But, so do most engineers. The difference is, engineers also need to understand high-level math.

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Does Understanding Difficult Math Concepts Make You A Better Engineer


Math is the building block of engineering principles. With a strong understanding of math, you can do the following:

  • Understand why you need to design in a certain way
  • Explain to others why you can and cant do something
  • Review engineering software outputs for accuracy
  • Follow and assess the math of other engineers

I always tell people, you cant blindly accept your software outputs. Consider the following two issues:

  • Bad inputs generating bad outputs
  • Mistakes in the software

The only way to spot such errors, is to have a deep understanding behind the engineering. You need to grasp the mathematical relationships between variables in formulas. This way, you can perform a reality check on your output results.

Math Problems And Software

How Important is Math to Software Engineering?

You may remember from math class what math problems look like. There are a lot of numbers and symbols next to each other that are supposed to mean something. Or, theres a paragraph discussing a lot of watermelons, trains, miles-per-hour, and gobbledegook.

You wont find that in software engineering.

What you will find are multiple programming languages that follow patterns or syntax to generate solutions that solve problems using computers. Software engineering is about tackling issues from whatever angle makes sense. There can be multiple solutions to a single problem.

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Should Software Engineers Learn Advanced Math

Learning advanced math has a lot of advantages for Software Engineers, when you have a good understanding of math, you will be able to participate in a wide range of projects.

Advanced math skills will help you to work on projects in machine learning and artificial intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Cryptography, Data science, signal processing, image processing, etc.

You should not be limited to basic arithmetic as a software engineer, you can try to explore and understand how math can help to improve the software you are developing.

If you intend to work for big tech companies such as Meta, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft, you will need a good understanding of Data structures and Algorithms.

Data structures and algorithms require good mathematical understanding. You can learn more about Data Structures and Algorithms for interview preparation on Udacity.

Skipping An Engineering Degree

There are success stories of students who achieved their dreams of becoming engineers despite being bad at math. Generally, though, engineers who struggle so much in mathematics studies that they arent able to meet the requirements of earning an engineering degree can only become engineers through gaining experience in engineering technician roles and demonstrating an exceptional level of technical skill. Even then, unfortunately, not having an engineering degree can limit your job prospects, hold you back from getting promoted and sabotage your earning potential.

People who dislike math so much that they decide not to pursue an engineering degree may opt to work in independent technical consulting roles, if they have enough technical expertise and the reputation to prove it. In independent technical consulting careers, company policies requiring college degrees in engineering and the math coursework that they entail wont prevent you from reaching your full potential in the role. However, keep in mind that you cant strike out on your own as a fully qualified consulting engineer because you generally need an engineering license to sell your services to the public, according to the National Society of Professional Engineers.

Majoring in Engineering in Spite of the Math Requirements

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Do Software Engineers Have To Be Good At Math

Not necessarily, you dont have to be good at math to be a software engineer. all you need is to have a good understanding of basic arithmetic and algebra and you will be able to work on most software engineering roles.

But being good at math will help you a lot during the software engineering training. You will not have as many difficulties with math classes as those who are not good at math.

It is worth noting as explained above that there are some paths of software engineering that require a good understanding of math to work effectively. If you have an aptitude for math, you will find some of the software engineering concepts easy and interesting.

You are not called upon to understand a lot of mathematical concepts but make sure to understand the concepts related to your field.

If you are interested in Cryptography? Invest your time in understanding topics in Discrete mathematics

If your interest is Data Analytics, skip everything else but Statistics. If you are keen on working with signals and systems, be friends with calculus.

For machine learning and Artificial Intelligence, well just love math lol. The point is, dont learn the entire Math Syllabus to be a good software engineer, there is math for every field and that is enough.

How Can Math Help You As A Software Engineer


Even though you won’t need to know advanced math for most software engineering projects, any math courses youve taken or any other exposure to mathematics youve had wont go wasted. This is because you develop a skill that allows you to approach complicated problems using logic when you take a math course. And its this way of thinking that will be really useful to you as a Software Engineer.

Interestingly, there are many other activities that you might do on a regular basis that can contribute to your skills as a Software Engineer. Solving puzzles, playing a musical instrument, and playing video games all require some level of problem solving or logic that youll see in your software engineering problems. Even philosophy involves logic and proof, which can lead to a programmer developing a unique approach to coding.

Heres some more advice from Roy:

If math is not your strength, perhaps history is. Gloss over math and look at the history of numbers. Studying along this line will be a road tour through all the fundamental questions that arose through history and how math was employed to help answer them. One should not be surprised by how much is learned about math in the process. Now apply that knowledge to application development.

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Is Engineering Math Hard

Engineering maths isnt hard at all. All it requires is some practice and attention in class. Mind you, if you know your basic calculus from school really really well, then engineering math wouldnt be that hard. Dont worry, keep practicing problems on a daily basis and then you will get the hang of it.

What Kind Of Math Is Needed For Environmental Science

We recommend that ESCS-focused math programs include, along with standard beginning mathematics major material, at least four applied courses such as mathematical modeling, numerical analysis, operations research, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, statistics, and probability.

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Does Coding Require Math A Straight Answer

One of the questions we hear often from applicants at BloomTech is âDoes computer science require math?â or âDoes coding involve math?â The straight answer is yesâbut not as much as you might think. You donât need to be good at advanced math to become a good software developer.

While some fields of programming require you to have extensive knowledge of mathematics , you donât need advanced math skills for most coding jobs. Youâll just need basic math skills, plus problem-solving and technical skills, to build general software or code web interfaces.

âBeing a good programmer is more about critical thinking and problem solving than math skills,â says Josh Knell, the director of instructional design at BloomTech. âBack when I started coding, I was shocked to find out that I really just needed a basic working knowledge of math like the order of operations, understanding basic algebra using variables and formulas, and knowing how to implement built-in math methods found in programming languages.â

These foundational math skills are enough for you to gain the other skills needed for jobs like web developer and software engineer. âThat isnât saying math isnât important, itâs to say that the majority of math is already done for you. You need to know how to implement it to solve a problem.â

Now that you know coding does involve math, what do you need for a job in tech? Letâs address which math skills will help you become a good coder.

Does Computer Engineering Require Calculus

How much Maths is needed as Software Engineers? by @ApnaCollegeOfficial

Yes, calculus is required in computer engineering, but it depends on your needs because some students are used for regular problem-solving purposes, and some are used only for major requirements.

Calculus is used in creating graphics, simulations, problem-solving applications, coding in applications, creating statistics solvers, and analyzing algorithms. Theres a high-level requirement of discrete mathematics and logic in computer science. The calculus requirements are for three semesters for students to learn about the rate of change.

For programmers, calculus is an essential daily requirement to solve problems regularly. It is also useful in improving the architecture of buildings, bridges, and other infrastructure and determining the length of power cables that connect to two substations.

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What Math Do Engineers Use

By David KrugDavid Krug is the CEO & President of Bankovia. He’s a lifelong expat who has lived in the Philippines, Mexico, Thailand, and Colombia. When he’s not reading about cryptocurrencies, he’s researching the latest personal finance software.8 minute read

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Scientific and mathematical principles are put to practical use through engineering. Engineers must take at least some math classes during their education, and they may expect to apply some of the math theory they acquired in school in their future careers, regardless of the engineering specialty they choose.

Even yet, a common concern among those considering an engineering degree is whether or not they will be able to succeed in the field if they have difficulty with arithmetic.

Do You Have To Be Good At Math To Be An Engineer

You dont have to be an exceptional math student to make it as an engineer, but you generally cant be bad at math, either. You need to achieve a reasonable amount of proficiency that will allow you to pass the mathematics courses required of an engineering major and use math principles and techniques in your engineering assignments, both during school and after you graduate.

If you truly are bad at math and you havent found any way to improve your aptitude for the subject despite attempting different learning styles and study techniques, engineering might not be the right career path for you. Mathematics is too integral to the field of engineering to undertake the full engineering design process without having the fundamental math knowledge you need.

On the other hand, some prospective engineers who shy away from the major due to the math requirements may still make excellent engineers. Dont write off the engineering career you want as impossible just because math simply isnt your favorite subject, especially if your grades and understanding of the subject are adequate. Engineers are not mathematicians who undertake complicated formulas and equations just for the sake of doing the math. Rather, they use math as a means to an end. That end is designing practical solutions for real-world problems.

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