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Does Software Engineering Require Math?
Yes, Software Engineering requires math. During your software Engineering training, you will take math classes such as Analytic Geometry, Discrete Math, and Numerical Analysis. These classes involve a combination of calculus, proofs, and approximations.
Mathematics is the foundation of Software Engineering. Math is heavily used in Data Analytics, Artificial Intelligence & Machine learning, Augmented Reality, Virtual Reality, Cyber Security, Cryptography, Algorithms & Data Structures, etc.
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.
When your understanding of math is well polished, you will be able to do so much with your code. The more you understand about Set theory and group theory, the better your targeting and filtering of data become, and the better structured your data will become.
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.
SOFTWARE ENGINEERING ROLES
Even though math is the foundation of many concepts used in software engineering, most software engineering roles do not require knowing mathematical formulas to do your day-to-day assignments. You will not be solving calculus or developing mathematical models for your daily work.
Most of the advanced math and calculations are hidden in the development tools, Integrated Development Environments (IDEs), and programming languages that software engineers use, so that software engineers can focus on solving problems.
Some Software Engineers do not have to understand the mathematical concept behind bcrypt or scrypt password hashing but they can use it for password hashing.
On the other hand, some software engineers may be interested in developing a more efficient and highly secure encryption program. These types of engineers may be required to apply advanced math concepts for such a program.
Ultimately, most software engineering roles require only a basic understanding of math. Basic arithmetic and algebra are often enough for most software engineering roles. You are unlikely to use most of the math you learned in college for your daily software engineering work.
SHOULD SOFTWARE ENGINEERS LEARN ADVANCED MATH?
Learning advanced math has a lot of advantages for Software Engineers, when you have a good understanding of math, you will be able to participate in a wide range of projects.
Advanced math skills will help you to work on projects in machine learning and artificial intelligence, Virtual Reality, Augmented Reality, Cryptography, Data science, signal processing, image processing, etc.
You should not be limited to basic arithmetic as a software engineer, you can try to explore and understand how math can help to improve the software you are developing.
If you intend to work for big tech companies such as Meta, Apple, Amazon, Netflix, Google, and Microsoft, you will need a good understanding of Data structures and Algorithms.
Data structures and algorithms require good mathematical understanding. You can learn more about Data Structures and Algorithms for interview preparation on Udacity.
DO SOFTWARE ENGINEERS HAVE TO BE GOOD AT MATH?
Not necessarily, you don’t have to be good at math to be a software engineer. all you need is to have a good understanding of basic arithmetic and algebra and you will be able to work on most software engineering roles.
But being good at math will help you a lot during the software engineering training. You will not have as many difficulties with math classes as those who are not good at math.
It is worth noting as explained above that there are some paths of software engineering that require a good understanding of math to work effectively. If you have an aptitude for math, you will find some of the software engineering concepts easy and interesting.
You are not called upon to understand a lot 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 and Artificial Intelligence, well just love math lol. The point is, don’t learn the entire Math Syllabus to be a good software engineer, there is math for every field and that is enough.
One approach is to learn math as you are working and solving problems. If you come across a problem that needs some specific math concept, you stop your coding work, then learn the math concept, apply it to what you are doing, and move on. I find this much easier and math will just flow as part of your work.
Software Engineering requires math, even if it is the most basic math. You need to be able to understand basic arithmetic and algebra, you must be able to carry out simple approximations and proofs.
Some Software Engineering paths like machine learning, cryptography, data structures & algorithms, cyber security, etc. will require a very good understanding of some advanced math concepts.