Do You Need to Know Math for Programming?

Many people who are interested in learning programming ask whether they need to be a mathematician to become a programmer. A lot of people are afraid to learn to code since they’re not so good at math. Do you really need to know math to become a programmer? Let’s find out the answer.

You don’t need to be great at math to learn a programming language. There are a lot of areas in programming where math skills are not needed, such as web development, mobile app development, etcSeveral areas in programming do require math skills, such as machine learning, data science, implementation and analysis of algorithms, etc.

Math Requirements in Computer Programming

I would say that having some background in mathematics would really help in solving problems easily. For example, if you know some basic algebra (it is the study of mathematical symbols and the rules for manipulating these symbols), you would very easily understand concepts such as using variables and doing basic mathematic operations in programming.

Do You Need Math For Programming?

If you know the fundamentals of calculus (it is the mathematical study of continuous change), you would be able to solve problems efficiently by using several mathematical concepts. For example, if a problem could be solved using a mathematical formula, you don’t need to reinvent the wheel to solve the problem. If you were unaware of that formula, you would be wasting a lot of time.

Also, an important part of computer programming is algorithms. If you know some basic math, you would understand concepts such as space complexity and time complexity of algorithms, which are very important in executing complex programs efficiently.

The benefit of having some math background is that you can identify some problems and figure out whether there are some mathematical solutions available to solve the problem.

Some major areas where math skills are very important are machine learning, data science, image processing, etc. Math is also used in fields like game development, cryptography, blockchain, etc.

Machine learning depends heavily on math, especially statistics, probability, and calculus. Having a good math background would be very handy if you want to enter the field of machine learning. If you don’t know concepts such as matrices and their operations, you can’t go too far in these fields.

I mentioned all the math requirements and other skills needed to become a machine learning expert in one of my previous articles. You can find it out here if you need some help.

Can You Become a Programmer Without Knowing Math?

The answer to this question is that math is not an absolute requirement for programming. There are many areas in software development where very little math is used.

If you want to become a web designer, or mobile app developer, or someone who works on the user interface of an application, you don’t need math. Having some knowledge would be handy in certain situations. But, it’s not a mandatory requirement.

I’ve heard many software developers saying that people who know math can easily learn to code. That might be true. But, even if you don’t know math, you can definitely be a programmer. In the early stages, math has very little to do with coding.

I would tell you that all the advanced math that you learn in school such as integration, differentiation, etc. (oh, I used to hate those stuff), are not applicable in programming. Many people misunderstand this fact and stay away from computer programming since they’re bad at math.

Universities and colleges do teach math while doing computer science degrees. When I was doing my CS degree, I learned four subjects in math to get a degree.

When we were learning algorithms such as merge sort, we were asked to analyze the complexity of algorithms using mathematical formulas. But, in real-world software development, I haven’t used any complex math ever (except doing machine learning).

So, even if you’re bad at math, there is no need to worry. Go ahead and learn computer programming. Don’t hesitate and stay away from it due to the fear of math.

We need math for various purposes. We know that many aptitude testing exams in all fields require some math skills to solve the problems. Similarly, programming also requires a little bit of math skills to solve problems. At the end of the day, programming is the process of solving problems. But, that does not mean programming is all about math.

How to Learn Math for Programming?

As I’ve said earlier, you won’t be at a significant disadvantage if you’re entering the tech field without knowing much math. But, having some knowledge would be a little bit handy in certain situations.

If you’re a completely self-taught person and haven’t really learned any math in school, then it would be good to spend some time learning basic math concepts such as algebra and calculus.

You don’t need to buy all the heavy textbooks which contain a ton of stuff to learn math. You can find an online course to learn some basic math, and that would be enough. If you’re good with the basics, there is no need to waste time learning all the stuff that you’ll never use.

If you’re entering fields like machine learning or data science, it would be worth spending some time learning math. Understanding statistics, probability, calculus, and linear algebra would be helpful in many situations.

If you want to learn mathematics, one great resource would be Khan Academy. You can find good courses for calculus and algebra over there. Also, you can find several tutorials online nowadays.

If you are lazy to do some research to find some good tutorials, here is a Maths for Programmers Tutorial from FreeCodeCamp. You just spend one hour, and that’s it. You don’t need to be a math expert.

Don’t listen to people who say that you can’t become a programmer without math skills. It is a misconception that many people believe. The truth is that 90% of programmers don’t even look at math textbooks or tutorials in their entire careers.

I hope you got the answer to your question. Math is not an absolute necessity to be a programmer.

If you have any doubts or anything to add to this article, feel free to put your thoughts in the comments below.

I would appreciate it if you would be willing to share this article. It will encourage me to create more informative articles like this.

Happy Coding!

Ashwin Joy

I'm the face behind Pythonista Planet. I learned my first programming language back in 2015. Ever since then, I've been learning programming and immersing myself in technology. On this site, I share everything that I've learned about computer programming.

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