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Computer Science vs Math

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    Andrew Davey

    Hello fellow niners,

    I'm a lowly 19 year old student here in the UK, currently studying for a mathematics BSc. I've been coding for 9 years now though! After about a year of university level maths I'm starting to wonder if this is really the best route to go down. After uni I really want to be an application developer. I am already doing freelance coding work over the Net. So my question is: Should I stick with the Maths or switch to computer science? The maths is very difficult and I'm thinking I would enjoy the CS much more.

    Any ideas?

    Andrew Davey

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    Stick with maths.. having CS does not make you a coder, and having maths AND the ability to code means your a specialist in that area. If this move has to do with your career only then stick with it.. if it is a personal thing then you are the only one that can answer that.

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    I would recommend a degree in Computer Science (maybe a minor in Mathematics) if you want to be a professional software developer. Studying math won't make you a better programmer. However, really understanding what you are doing when designing a program and implementing it (knowledge that you'll obtain from CS), certainly does! 

    Hey, I studied math in college (minor) and when I look back on that decision, I wish I would have chosen CS to be my minor, but I didn't really know that I was going to be a programmer when I was in undergrad. Since you do, well, you shouldn't make the same mistake! Smiley


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    I went with the double major route.  My school (Wheaton College Ill.) wasn't particularly strong in CS, but had a great math department, so I knew I could get more out of math classes then CS classes (I went to the school for the liberal arts side of it).

    Of course this fit in with my job, program design and coding for a small CAD company.

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    Choose whichever you enjoy most. It's no good trying to do what other people say is "best" for you, you'll just end up hating it and not doing very well at it. But don't give up on the maths just because it's difficult. Your decision must be based on which you find the most fun. John

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    Do what I do, flip a coin. =)

    Seriously, I am just now starting back at college and am contemplating, though have not decided, to go for CS with an English minor. What can I say, I am just fascinated with words and how they can have the power to take on so many different meanings and underlying meanings. But, as mentioned before, that is just me. You should honestly do what you feel would serve you best.

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    I would go with the CS degree.

    I hear you about the math.  I've rarely had to employ anything more than algibra in my code, so you know how often I've used derivitives.

    Granted, there are a few programming positions that will require you to understand multi-variable calculus (read:scientific and statistical work), but I think a courses in low-level memory managemnt or even better yet, logic, will help you immesurably more than learning to finding the area under a curve.

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    I went Bachelor of Science Computer Science route.. BS degree Wink

    Defintely over Math.. cause the BS path actually required me to take 30 hours of math.. linear, calc III, etc..


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    Alright i'll fight the math corner...

    Sounds like my background is similar to yours, computing as a hobby / on the side, maths degree.

    I was pure maths, not many numbers around, never mind computers Smiley...

    Over the years i've found it's really stood me well. there's a lot of maths in CS, and some of the fairly esoteric stuff has really relevant applications. Look at how rainjael encryption works for a direct example - it's pure abstract algebra, as are eliptic curves fact the whole of crypto is deep maths...

    You will have to read a fair few algorithms books, but again a good maths background will make those fairly easy to digest can irritate people by really groking what NP means etc too Smiley

    just my opinion though...

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    Sorry if this sounds extremely patronising but I can't think of any other way to word it: If you're finding the maths tricky, head into the college library and search through all the maths books until you find one pitched at your level and which is written in a style that you can understand. Sometimes a single chapter in a large book is best, sometimes a small book which just concentrates on one topic. It may take quite a while to find the best book but it will really be time well spent. This approach got me through complex numbers, vectors and calculus at uni. Hope this helps. - John

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