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How much math is involved in Computer Science and what do you do on a day to day basis with that profession?

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I am a Junior at Boston Latin School and I am really interested in math and definitely find it my strongest subject. I love the problem solving/using formulas and algorithms aspect of it. A lot of people have recommended me to look into Computer Science as well since I love math so much. #computer-science #mathematics #computer-engineering

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Leslie’s Answer

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I can answer the first part of your question better than the second part. I use computer science and coding, but I am not a computer scientist.


There is definitely math in computer science. In particular, you need to use a lot of the logic of math. For example, if you wanted a program to do something a certain number times, you would need to create a way to keep track of how many times it has already done it. You might put a sum in there and then tell the program that once the sum reaches a certain number, stop doing whatever it was doing.


As to what computer scientists do on a day to day basis, I can answer from having friends who do it. I believe that they write code most of the day. This is like tricky problem solving - you are trying to get a program to do a certain thing and you are trying to come up with the best, most efficient way to do that without using a lot of memory. So being a computer scientists involves a lot of solving puzzles. But a computer scientist might be better able to answer this part of the question.

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Michael’s Answer

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I use advanced math very little in my day to day work. I am a game engineer and most of the math that I use is very simple arithmetic (doing something x number or times, or only doing something when my counter is a multiple of 3, etc...). When I do UI work, there is a more geometry and trigonometry involved, and on some side projects I have had to use physics to determined how something should move on screen (ie i shoot a cannonball out of a cannon, and I want it to arc up and land in a semi-realistic manner).


That said, there is a huge variance in the types of jobs available for the computer science field. Going into cryptography or something similar will have a lot of more advanced algorithms that you use on a day to day basis. Another option might be going into optimization, where you will need to figure out the best algorithm for a specific instance and then tailor it even further to be the most optimal solution. This is most useful on projects that have incredibly large data sets (something to do with Big Data, like Amazon or Google with their huge amounts of information). Artificial Intelligence is also almost all math, and if that is your strong suit could be a very cool career path.

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Blake’s Answer

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It depends on what kind of software you create. For something like web development, basic algebra with some geometry is about all you'd need. On the other hand, if you're working on a physics engine for a video game, you'll need a lot more math knowledge. Keep in mind that all modern programming languages are spins on calculus, in one way or another. That's why most colleges have Calculus as a requirement for a CS degree.


On a day to day basis, I'm building applications or fixing bugs, having meetings with other programmers, designers or business people, and taking time to learn about new programming libraries and techniques. Programming is one of those things that you have to work on every day to stay proficient at.

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