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How much math does someone use daily in software engineering?

Some people say it's good to learn calculus for computer science, but why is that so? How much math is used in a day?

Thank you comment icon I'll recommend you check on some Youtuber for their daily life as a software engineers. They'll give you a visual experience of their life. Some of them will even explain what they're doing, quite interesting and useful. Steve Wang

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Kartikaya’s Answer

Hi Myles,

That's a good question. I always wondered throughout my student life what is the use of Calculus and how is it going to impact my career.
Let me answer your question in 2 parts.

Let's first address why Calculus?
I know how scary this word could be for so many of us. There is a big part of software engineering where we don't need Calculus.
But if you are interested in Data Science, Machine Learning, Neural Networks, or Deep Learning, you will have an opportunity to use your Calculus skills.

For your second question, How much math do we use daily?
Not a lot. Most software engineering jobs are not about only 1 or 2 technical skills. It's a combination of many soft skills that you must have learned throughout your life and will continue to grow as you gain experience. When you work as a software engineer, you are not only an engineer but also a leader, mentor, friend, good teammate, and so many other skills which could take most of the time from your workday.

So if you want to make a deep learning model using logistic regression to find pictures of dogs and cats, you might get a chance to use your calculus skills.

You can check out these courses where you will find the application of Calculus concepts.
Coursera - https://www.coursera.org/learn/neural-networks-deep-learning#syllabus
Google - https://ai.google/education/

Do let us know if you have any follow-up questions.
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Jerome’s Answer

Depends on whether or not you're working on something that requires specific knowledge -- I want the folks who design software for aircraft guidance systems, nuclear reactor controls, and automotive braking algorithms to understand a LOT of very, very advanced math!

On the other hand, it's perfectly possible for the mathematically-challenged to have successful careers in software engineering. If you can think in a logical manner and visualize relationships (cause-and-effect) then deep knowledge of advanced math generally isn't required. Learning calculus and algebra will never hurt -- you'll develop the ability to think in "mathematical" terms even if you don't become an expert in the mechanics of performing specific operations. I'm no math guru but have done nicely as a software and technology engineer for the last 40 years.

Good luck, and don't let it scare you!
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Melanie’s Answer

How much math you end up using and how exactly you apply it is going to depend greatly on what exactly it is you are working on. At the end of the day though, even if you aren't specifically calculating derivatives by hand or solving complex integrations, what you really gained by taking all of those math classes is the ability to think through and solve problems. What you'll find is that a lot of the skills and techniques you develop while solving math problems can be applied to programming/software development. In the majority of cases, you won't need to be an expert in differential calculus or anything like that to be a software engineer, but the more math knowledge you have, the better you can be at programing! Ultimately, everything you are doing with writing and developing software boils down to mathematics.

Now, if you intend on focusing on some of the more complex aspects of software engineering (using things like quantum computing, machine learning, even graph theory), you will definitely need to have a background in advanced mathematics.

Hope this helps!
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Anna’s Answer

Day to day, i'm not doing much calculus, but the point of learning these hard math subjects aren't really just for practical use. It's to train your brain to be able to handle difficult problems. It's like doing pushups to be a better problem solver. It's also somewhat useful for writing efficient algorithms, where you'll want to calculate the Big O value (Big O notation)
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Dermot’s Answer

Software engineering is about thinking through problems and solving them in an efficient repeatable way. You may use math directly from time to time but a math background will always be an valuable tool in developing logic to solve complex problems
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Jacob’s Answer

Hi Miles! I think it really depends on the type of work your doing. In my current work, I use very little math outside basic arithmetic. On my team, being able to work with many different types of applications and operating systems is far more important, though I am in a bit of a niche industry.

That all being said, I wish I actually knew more math that I currently do. It wouldn't really help with my current work, but I do believe that it would be important in any roles I may have in the future.
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John’s Answer

The amount of math required day to day in software engineering ranges greatly. My thought is having a "mathematically geared brain" is a big plus in software or any type of engineering. You won't necessarily be solving large proofs like you do in calculus class in a typical software development role; however, being familiar with calculus and having basic proficiency in software like Matlab can be valuable.
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