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I am in High School (P.R.) and I am a regular person in math. Should I try computer science?

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closed as primarily opinion-based by Juho, David Richerby, jmite, D.W., Luke Mathieson Feb 8 '15 at 3:32

Many good questions generate some degree of opinion based on expert experience, but answers to this question will tend to be almost entirely based on opinions, rather than facts, references, or specific expertise. If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

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    $\begingroup$ What would you like to do and what do you find interesting? $\endgroup$ – Andrej Bauer Feb 7 '15 at 19:56
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    $\begingroup$ There are two types of computer scientists: those who are strong in math and those who aren't. $\endgroup$ – Dave Clarke Feb 7 '15 at 20:13
  • $\begingroup$ You may visit us in Computer Science Chat and talk about your specific expectations and fears. I would not recommend computer science as a field of studies to a person who is weak in mathematics or dislikes them strongly, but that does not mean it's impossible to attain a degree. (There's also programming and computer engineering.) $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 8 '15 at 13:48
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This is a very subjective question, but generally speaking, a computer science degree is (arguably) a mix of the "mathematical" and "engineering" aspects of computer science (there are also "scientific" aspects, but they are hardly usually encountered in undergraduate studies). The shared aspects include basic mathematics such as calculus and linear algebra. "Mathematical" computer science is discrete mathematics, automata theory, computability, computational complexity, algorithms, data structures and so on. "Engineering" aspects include programming computer organization, operating systems, databases, and so on. Advanced topics such as machine learning and computer graphics are (in my view) engineering topics which are relatively mathematical, though usually require continuous mathematics rather than discrete mathematics.

If you agree to this picture, then the conclusion is that computer science is less mathematical than mathematics. Computer programmers typically need to know a very small amount of mathematics. Indeed, even an understanding of mathematical induction is probably beyond what is needed. Most of your fellow classmates will probably have modest mathematical skills, so unless you have mathophobia, I think computer science is within your means.

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  • $\begingroup$ In case anybody stumbles over the lack of science in CS (education) Yuval implies here, I recommend reading some thoughts here. $\endgroup$ – Raphael Feb 8 '15 at 13:46
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I am currently doing a undergraduate degree in Computer Science, Computational and Applied Mathematics and Information Systems. I also have worked for a small time in business based software engineering. What Yuval said is true, Computer Science does require less mathematics than a pure-maths degree or even electrical engineering but some of the maths you may encounter will be a bit harder and theoretical.

Depending on your university, the requirements for computer science may also be different. Some universities require a high maths component like multi-variable calculus, statistics and Linear algebra while other may only require some functional concepts such as single variable calculus and some basic algebra. Depending on where you want to go with the degree at the end of your studies having a mathematics background may or may not be useful.

In research, R&D jobs and more physics and optimisation based jobs mathematics is a must but in the business realm unless you are doing specialised work, a background in theoretical mathematics is not really required.

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    $\begingroup$ In this university math courses in computer science are: pre-calculation one and two, calculation one and two, probability and statistics, discrete math and linear algebra. $\endgroup$ – Lean Feb 7 '15 at 23:24
  • $\begingroup$ It looks like there is some mathematics there but no Analysis courses which many find difficult as it is theoretical with many proofs rather than being able to be directly applied to problems outside of theoretical mathematics $\endgroup$ – TRex22 Feb 7 '15 at 23:50
  • $\begingroup$ @Lean sounds easy. I had to have Calculus I, II, and III before I could even apply to the university for a CS degree. I thought linear algebra was the easiest "advanced math" class I had ever seen. $\endgroup$ – JDługosz Apr 7 '16 at 7:51
  • $\begingroup$ Ive graduated and am busy doing my first postgraduate degree. In South Africa that's an honours degree where you learn all the more advanced stuff for masters etc... What Ive found is that the mathematics of cs like multidimensional calc, linear algebra, algorithm analysis and design, statistics and some networks/typologies is a must. Without this grounding it is far more difficult to cope at this course work level. If you are doing straight research than only the content you need can be focused on - although even my research is challenging my somewhat weak maths and forcing me to improve it. $\endgroup$ – TRex22 Apr 24 '17 at 20:24

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