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Do you need math for programming?

programming and mathematics

Do you need math for programming?

Math is broad and I will do my best to explain what is needed and what is not needed. Let’s quickly explore.

If all you want is to develop websites, some simple games, and simple mobile applications, then all you need is basic arithmetic (addition, division, multiplication, subtraction).

You are probably already familiar with this everyday math and you probably use it time and again in your code.

Make sure to understand integers (negatives & positives). E.g. you may not want a game score to be negative, or a timer to go into negatives or you want to add a negative to a negative, you must understand what the results will be.

However, if you are interested in more advanced fields such as Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence | Machine learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Cyber Security, Cryptography, Algorithms & Data Structures, etc. it is made of necessity that you not only understand the general mathematics theories but advanced mathematical concept as well.


Mathematical topics and fields such as Discrete mathematics, Analytical Geometry, and Calculus are highly applicable in the aforementioned fields.

Graph theory, Number theory, set theory, logarithms, mathematical induction, etc. have been used heavily in Data Structures & Algorithms, Cryptography, Cyber security, and many other tech fields.

If you are interested in working with Signals and Systems, you must be familiar with calculus, Laplace transforms, Fourier transforms, trigonometry, etc. these can be useful in image processing, signal processing, etc.

The truth is that if your work as a programmer revolves around Web development, very basic games, and simple mobile applications, you should be comfortable with the general basic arithmetic.

But if you really want to set yourself apart as a programmer, and I mean, Google level, or Microsoft level, or Tesla level programmer, you must invest your time in understanding and applying mathematical concepts, even if math is not your strength.

This, however, does not mean that if you are good at math, then you will make a good programmer, far from it.

You may be terrible at math and still make a good programmer and good at math and make a terrible programmer.

The latest cutting-edge technology whether in Autonomous Vehicles, or artificial intelligence | Machine Learning, Blockchain, AR, and VR demands the skills, not of an average programmer, but an efficient, analytical programmer who can apply mathematical concepts for security, computer vision, signal analysis and many other disciplines related to recent tech advancements.


No, you don’t have to be good at math to code. all you need is to understand basic arithmetic.

It is worth noting as explained above that there are some paths of programming that require a good understanding of math to work effectively.

You are not called upon to understand a great deal of mathematical concepts but make sure to understand the concepts related to your field.

If you are interested in Cryptography? Invest your time in understanding topics in Discrete mathematics (Number theory, Information Theory, Probability, etc.)

If your interest is Data Analytics, skip everything else but Statistics.

If you are keen on working with signals and systems, be friends with calculus.

For machine learning | Artificial Intelligence, well just love math lol.

The point is, don’t learn the entire Math Syllabus to be a good programmer, there is math for every field and that is enough.

One approach is to learn math as you are programming and solving problems.

If you come across a problem that needs some specific math concept, you stop your programming, learn the math concept, apply it to what you are doing then move on.

I find this much easier and math will just flow as part of programming.

Say I’m programming a system that responds to an external signal, but then the signal is so noisy, and I want just a specific crest or trough,

so I decide to filter and get rid of some parts of the signal and I realize that I need some mathematical model to do it,

I will just concentrate on learning the model that I need without stressing with the entire mathematical syllabus.

That way, I’m learning all the necessary math concepts related to my field.

In conclusion,

Do you need math for programming? YES, even if it is basic math (arithmetic)

Can you be a good programmer without understanding some advanced mathematical concepts?

Absolutely, there are many fields in programming that do not require heavy mathematical application and understanding.

Programmers solve many problems to make our society better and not all problems need mathematical applications and understanding.

However, if you want to participate in cutting-edge technology, a good mathematical foundation will be a great advantage.

It’s entirely up to you to choose how much math should weigh on you.

You can stick with basic math and you will be fine or you can deep further into some advanced concepts and open your doors to Data structures & Algorithms, AI | ML, AR, VR, and more.

Do you need math for programming?
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