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Math vs. Computer Science Major

NBAFan20NBAFan20 Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
edited June 2009 in Engineering Majors
1. Which major is usually more difficult?

2. Which major do employers look more favorable towards? I know it would depend on the field, so let's just say something in the middle. Such as business field.

Or which major is generally considered more prestigious?

3. Your thoughts about the major and the main differences between the 2.

PS: I'm planning on doing both. Just curious on this question.
Post edited by NBAFan20 on

Replies to: Math vs. Computer Science Major

  • carneliancarnelian Registered User Posts: 327 Member
    I think employment really depends on where you want to work. For some careers, perhaps like finance, math may be a better degree to have while other careers would require a CS degree. However, I think CS might have better employment prospect straight out of school because it would probably be easier to slot you in somewhere with a CS degree than with a math degree. Either would probably be difficult, it just depends on what you enjoy and what you are good at. Math and CS go nicely together. Usually a few professors will teach and conduct research in both departments.

    This is just my opinion, but I have always thought that math deals more with what you calculate (like solving equations or developing models) while CS deals more with how you calcualte it (like writing an algorithm to execute the formula or translate the mathematical model into code). Common ground between the two disciplines is usually found in research areas such as scientific computing and applied mathematics.
  • haru07haru07 Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    1. I think they're both difficult, but I think math is difficult because of the very abstract, theoretical material presented later on (like abstract algebra, analysis) that you are made to ponder over, whereas CS is a challenge because of the extreme workload-long problem sets, all the software projects, labs. CS will probably feel a lot like an engineering track because of this, while you will also do theory you will definitely be spending a lot of tiime designing and building stuff.

    2. I'd say either. I think personally that CS has a wider span of applications. Software is everywhere nowadays, and if something uses software, there's got to be someone who built it.

    3. Math=theoretical, abstract, the foundation of sciences.
    CS=the application of mainly discrete math to computing.

    If you go one level further, software engineering (SE) = the application of CS that uses engineering principles to design and build reliable, secure, and safe software. Most CS major programs will have you doing both CS and SE.

    You will end up taking some math courses that will count towards both majors.
  • AuburnMathTutorAuburnMathTutor Registered User Posts: 1,770 Senior Member
    1) I would say both are probably about equal in terms of difficulty. I fundamentally agree with previous posters who say math will be more theoretical, and CS will be more work... so in the end, the net difficulty is probably about the same.

    2) Depends on the job and the employer. I also fundamentally agree that a bachelor's in CS is more job-oriented than a BS in math, but both majors should have good employment prospects.

    3) The majors are very similar. The only real difference is that CS focuses more on discrete math and making software to solve problems (I like the idea of CS being about algorithms rather than answers), whereas math majors will do more in continuous math and with much less emphasis on software solutions (the idea of math being about the answer - which in real math is more like proofs than getting numbers). You'll do proofs in CS, too, but... well, there's a lot of overlap, but as general guidelines, I feel like the advice given so far is good.

    I think doing both is a great idea. They're very compatible and complimentary. Are you just wondering which to choose as your primary and which as your secondary? That might be a good question to ask... anyway. Good for you, and good luck!
  • NBAFan20NBAFan20 Registered User Posts: 108 Junior Member
    Also had questions, are they a good combo? IDo they "go together" in terms of helping you think?

    Also, as you get better at one, will you automatically get better at the other?
  • haru07haru07 Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    ^ Yes they indeed are good combinations. A lot of theoretical computer science is heavily math based. As for your second question, yes, if you are talking about the theoretical aspects of CS, definitely; programming is also very logic-based so practicing math will probably allow you to think more like a programmer. If you are talking about things like project management, software design (and software engineering as a whole), math probably not be as relevant in those areas-you will need to acquire more specialized knowledge of how CS is applied; ie, API's, design patterns, spec analysis, efficiency, fault tolerance, endurance, and load testing.
  • haru07haru07 Registered User Posts: 661 Member
    Oh, and a lot of the math used in CS is discrete, like AuburnMathTutor said. So expect classes in combinatorics, graph theory, probability and statistics, as opposed to calculus and differential equations (which you will need knowledge of, if you work on a software project that uses them?)
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