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  • computer education and mathematics

    I have a question to you guys and girls, and hope i don't sound silly.
    I am into a University graduation in computer science and are going for a Master. What scares me and dissapoint me a bit, is that it looks like the study consists of 80 % mathematics and 20 % of what I define as pure computer related. There are also other high schools here where you can get a Master, without all the mathematics stuff. (I do not live in America)
    I have understood that a lot of you are highly educated, and wonder about your opinion about which way to choose. Have you all gone the hard way through tons of mathematics books, and is this the only way to get a fully understanding ?
    The problem is not that I do not handle the mathematics. It just feels like I am moving away from what I was supposed to move towards.(I have hardly time to use the computer anymore :( )
    Another thing, what will the difference be for me with taking a college graduation with less mathematics contra a University where mathematics is overrepresented ?
    When people call me normal I know it's time to seek mental help

  • #2
    Originally posted by ttickzz
    Have you all gone the hard way through tons of mathematics books, and is this the only way to get a fully understanding ?
    Different schools place different requirements for Math in CS and CS/Security advanced degree programs. Even areas of concentration within a single school's Masters program can have significant impact on Math requirements.
    Some Four year colleges require so much math of their CS students that they can apply for a Math minor with their CS degree, and with 3 or 4 more Math classes have a double-major!

    The problem is not that I do not handle the mathematics. It just feels like I am moving away from what I was supposed to move towards.
    That is a major area of focus in advanced degrees: Optimizing solutions to complex problems. Sometimes this requires math to prove a solution does or may exists, or prove that a solution does not exist before resources are invested in itrying to solve it.

    Another thing, what will the difference be for me with taking a college graduation with less mathematics contra a University where mathematics is overrepresented ?
    I don't know. Maybe someone else can help with this. :-)
    Last edited by TheCotMan; December 2, 2004, 21:33. Reason: Shorten

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    • #3
      I'll keep it short, but the following is my experience.

      My formal computer education consisted of a significant number of mathematics classes. These classes are an absolutely vital base to understanding the various theories surrounding computing.

      However, the practical side of computer programming and engineering (in most cases) does not require that you understand the theory.

      I firmly believe that the bottom-up approach to learning computers (or probably any profession) will improve your ability to perform practical work. Taking the math classes will make you a better performer in the long run. The sacrifice is that you will have less marketable skills immediately after your education ends. The advantage is that learning new skills tends to be a lot easier.

      In an earlier thread today, someone commented that experience is usually more important than education. If you agree, then you should take the math. If not, then you should follow the computer-oriented program and hope that the skills you acquire do not become outdated before you get your money's worth.

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      • #4
        My degree is actually a hybrid degree of CSE and Mathematics, Computational Mathematical Sciences. Some of the best 'computer' classes I took were taught by math professors. Turing was a math guy.

        Take as much math as you can. Certain critical skills and ways of thinking will always help you- Many of the algorithms you will come across will be heavily based in different math theories (all the different sort algs they will have you do for example)- and many times a deeper understanding of the math involved can help you code/plan/design in a more efficient way.

        LosT

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        • #5
          Originally posted by LosT
          Turing was a math guy.
          At that time, he'd almost have to be.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ttickzz
            I have understood that a lot of you are highly educated
            Believe nothing that you hear and half of what you see

            I completed 3 1/2 years of college before stopping that incredible waste of money (degree was non-computer related). I have since researched what it would take to get back into a CS degree. I found a minimum of Calculus II (and that was a security focus instead of a programming focus). At this point, I will continue with my experience /specialized training coursework because it fits this point in my life. Honestly, if you can, struggle through the math. It may not be your forte, but it will benefit you in the long run, especially if you're pursuing that Masters degree.
            “Bigamy is having one wife too many. Monogamy is the same.”

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            • #7
              After 25 years of working with computers, I know more dead languages than are currently in use. The math has stayed with me, the PL1 is not much use anymore. Take more math.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by murakami
                After 25 years of working with computers, I know more dead languages than are currently in use. The math has stayed with me, the PL1 is not much use anymore. Take more math.
                PL1, uh? I haven't heard anyone mention that in a while. My favorite golden-oldie was APL.

                It's true though, after you do this stuff for more than a decade or two, and you will see a number of langauges change and evolve. Actually, evolution is a good analogy. Different families grow and mutate, while others die off. The math doesn't change.
                Thorn
                "If you can't be a good example, then you'll just have to be a horrible warning." - Catherine Aird

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                • #9
                  Originally posted by spahkle
                  .....I found a minimum of Calculus II (and that was a security focus instead of a programming focus)....
                  Ahh, good old Calculus II, Limits at Infinity were my favorite.
                  I also liked Derivatives and Tangent Lines, but then again I'm odd.

                  I would say take the math classes it would be in your best interest, as others have stated above. Besides, math is one of those fundamental elements that if passed up may be regretted later on.
                  "It is difficult not to wonder whether that combination of elements which produces a machine for labor does not create also a soul of sorts, a dull resentful metallic will, which can rebel at times". Pearl S. Buck

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                  • #10
                    Originally posted by Thorn
                    PL1, uh? I haven't heard anyone mention that in a while. My favorite golden-oldie was APL.
                    I once had to learn enough PL1 to pull data off of 9-tracks and reformat them into something useful. When I'm feeling masochistic, I thumb through my ADA books.

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by lil_freak
                      Ahh, good old Calculus II, Limits at Infinity were my favorite.
                      I also liked Derivatives and Tangent Lines, but then again I'm odd.
                      That made me think of the old saying: "Don't drink and derive"

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                      • #12
                        Thank you very, very much all of you. It was exactly the answer I needed. You often hear people are saying " you don't need this and you don't need that". That is the reason why I wanted an answer from a Forum like this. And even I don't believe everything I see and hear, I will still claim that information from some places are more valuable than from other places :)

                        So, I guess the only thing to do is to continue proving theorem after theorem and not be so impatient.
                        Thank you again
                        When people call me normal I know it's time to seek mental help

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by ttickzz
                          So, I guess the only thing to do is to continue proving theorem after theorem and not be so impatient.
                          Thank you again
                          But you know, it's not really just about proving theorems...when (if) you decide on advanced calc or similar classes you will start 'types of proofs' - I don't mean type as in induction, demonstration, etc, but almost 'algorithmic' proofs for certain types of problems- for example in Real Analysis you will deal with what are often called epsilon-delta proofs...it's more like learning a proof 'structure'- which is when you are really learing *how* to think about certain problems.

                          LosT

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by lil_freak
                            Ahh, good old Calculus II, Limits at Infinity were my favorite.
                            I also liked Derivatives and Tangent Lines, but then again I'm odd.

                            I would say take the math classes it would be in your best interest, as others have stated above. Besides, math is one of those fundamental elements that if passed up may be regretted later on.
                            That's calculus II? I'm finishing doing that half way through my junior year in high school.
                            Granted, it is AP Calc, but if that's all we need for a CS degree, thats rather.. meh.

                            Now is that a minimum? Or the average level most grads get to?
                            - Programmer -

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                            • #15
                              Originally posted by d3ad1ysp0rk
                              Now is that a minimum? Or the average level most grads get to?
                              Many 4 year degrees for BS in CS require at least "calc 2" (college semester) and at least 1 or more upper division math course.
                              BA is CS is often easier on people with respect to math courses and may not even require any Calculus. (Bad path if you plan to go PhD or MS.)
                              Some trade schools offering "Bachelors Degrees in CS" are offering something more like a BA than a BS.

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