Do Programmers Need to Know Physics

Do Programmers Need to Know Physics?

No, programmers do not need to know physics to successfully carry out their day-to-day duties of software development or other programming tasks. Not knowing physics will not affect how you code or your chances of getting a programming job. There are rare occasions where physics-specific knowledge may be required to effectively carry out a task.

In my first year of university, I took a Physics class that covered a wide range of topics from vectors, motion, forces, equilibrium, momentum, optics, electrostatics, thermodynamics, and many other topics. I have not found any of these topics directly useful in my programming journey so far.

The understanding of Physics is important in many aspects of our lives and the skills you get from working on Physics problems may be transferable to programming, but you do not need any physics-specific knowledge or formula to be a successful programmer.

The core Computer Science or Information Technology curriculum for many universities does not include physics classes except in cases where you will take Optical classes or other physics-related electives. Understanding Physics concepts and equations will not likely help you in fixing bugs or job interviews.

Physics and programming are worlds apart, and not knowing physics has no bearing on your programming career except in very rare situations.


Although programmers generally do not need to learn physics for software development, Game developers must endeavor to understand the basic principles of Physics. Physics concepts are very useful in game development to mimic real-life interactions.

Game Engines such as Unreal Engine or Unity do most of the heavy lifting and physics calculations for developers, but a game developer must understand the basic principles of motion, forces, vectors, momentum, etc.

If you are a programmer who is working on building a game engine from scratch, you need to have a good understanding of Physics. You must be able to perform collision calculations, object interaction, forces calculations, and more. There is quite a lot of Physics involved in building simulation and game engines.

Ultimately, programmers working on Game development projects must have at least a basic understanding of Physics. You don’t need to understand E=mc^2 or other complex formulas for Game development, a basic understanding is enough.


There are times as a programmer when you will have to build a Physics centered application or work for a physics-centered company or startup, in this case, you will need some understanding of Physics to effectively carry out your work.

Working for Space agency companies, rocket manufacturing companies, automobile companies, and other companies where physics is critical for their products, and day-to-day operations may require some level of understanding of physics to be successful.

If you are a programmer who is interested in working for such companies, an understanding of some physics concepts and principles would be very helpful though not strictly required.


Most programmers will not work with Physics concepts and formulas in their programming work except a few who may work on Game Engines, Simulation Engines, physics-centered projects, and physics-centered companies.

Programmers do not need Physics to successfully do their work and most companies do not require any physics knowledge to hire talented programmers. If you look at most job listings around, you will hardly find one that requires physics knowledge for programming jobs.