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Science Forum

  1. 27 May '12 23:53
    im doing an i.t. degree by long distance learning (open university) and have almost finished my first year and need to start looking towards future modules. i havent done maths since gcse (high school) and have enjoyed but struggled a little with maths so far.
    i was wondering if anybody can give me an idea to the level of maths i might need for the various different areas of i.t.
    im worried i wont have time to study the subject and learn the maths from scratch. especially as much of the coarse presumes you already know the math.
    im mainly thinking of studying computer languages, but have no idea what that involves, any help and advice would be appreciated, regarding the math or i.t. studies in general.
  2. 28 May '12 09:19
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    im doing an i.t. degree by long distance learning (open university) and have almost finished my first year and need to start looking towards future modules. i havent done maths since gcse (high school) and have enjoyed but struggled a little with maths so far.
    i was wondering if anybody can give me an idea to the level of maths i might need for the va ...[text shortened]... volves, any help and advice would be appreciated, regarding the math or i.t. studies in general.
    IT is a wide field.
    There are courses that teach you the practical stuff, like networking, Windows, Linux etc.
    Then there are courses on programming.
    But a university would typically be more into the theory behind it all and would go further into the theory of algorithms, compilers, processors etc.

    In practical every day programming, it used to be that one had to have a good understanding of binary, but that is becoming less and less important.
    However, for a university course you probably will have to understand binary, and also some of the math surrounding algorithms. This would include measures of efficient they are, but you might also look at algorithms for doing floating point math and etc.

    But as I say it is such a wide field that it is hard to comment without more specifics.

    Generally I wouldn't worry too much because if you haven't learnt any programming yet, that would be the main thing you will need to learn. Success in programming is mostly about whether or not you enjoy it.

    Once you are a programmer, you must realise that computers are used to do math. Quite often a programming project requires you to understand the math related to the particular project, but one can usually get what you need off the internet these days.
  3. 28 May '12 15:28
    You say you are mainly interested in programming. This will require some math, depending on what kind of things you want to program. But more so than math it is a matter of logic. So I wouldn't worry about it too much.
  4. 28 May '12 19:48 / 3 edits
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    im doing an i.t. degree by long distance learning (open university) and have almost finished my first year and need to start looking towards future modules. i havent done maths since gcse (high school) and have enjoyed but struggled a little with maths so far.
    i was wondering if anybody can give me an idea to the level of maths i might need for the va ...[text shortened]... volves, any help and advice would be appreciated, regarding the math or i.t. studies in general.
    I am a computer programmer and I have done several university courses on the subject.
    My advice is that you should just revise only very basic algebra and maths of percentages and probably that's just about all! You are very unlikely to need anything like the full range of stuff like you did in gcse maths so you would be unlikely to need to do any difficult or time-consuming revision. For example, you can probably ignore calculus and matrix maths and geometry etc but it depends on what you plan to eventually get involved in:

    In the unlikely event of you getting involved in computer animation, you may need to revise/learn some geometry and trigonometry.

    In the unlikely event of you getting involved in designing “neural network” circuits for artificial intelligence, you may just about get away with just using basic algebra but, if you get into it to a very advanced level, you would definitely have to use such things as calculus and matrix maths which would make it a bit difficult if you are not good at maths.

    In the extremely unlikely event of you getting involved with designing software for “native” maths functions then you would get really heavily involved in “mathematical iteration” for computation which I know from personal experience is a massively complex science subject even just by itself so, if you hate maths, this is definitely the area to avoid else you are guaranteed to find it a nightmare.

    But, as the other two above just said, I shouldn't worry too much about it.
  5. Subscriber WoodPush
    Pusher of wood
    07 Jun '12 20:34 / 1 edit
    If I were you, I'd plan out the full list of courses you plan to take, and examine their stated prerequisites. If you don't feel comfortable with those prerequisites, include those courses in your list.

    When I was in school (for two degrees in computer science), there was a lot of math in the coursework, even where it wasn't strictly required. The fact is that most IT jobs require good logic and problem solving skills, and teaching faculty realize that having a good foundation of math and physics helps to challenge you on building those skills. So they will include math and physics in their problem sets and dialog quite often.

    While you may graduate and never touch an equation again, you'll probably struggle to graduate if you don't have a good foundation. I saw people change degrees or receive barely passing marks simply because they struggled with the math, even when they were very fluent with the computing concepts.

    Brush up on the math, and take the detour if you need to build the math skills, it will help you in the long run.
  6. Standard member Thequ1ck
    Fast above
    08 Jun '12 00:12 / 1 edit
    Originally posted by twhitehead
    IT is a wide field.

    So how exactly can he cover a wide field at a distance??
  7. 11 Jun '12 11:40
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    im mainly thinking of studying computer languages, but have no idea what that involves, any help and advice would be appreciated, regarding the math or i.t. studies in general.
    In addition to what the others have said, I'd strongly advise you also to get into the habit of paying attention to your spelling, and particularly to your punctuation. Learn to get this right as a matter of course, rather than wrong as a matter of laziness.
    Why? Well, if you think I'm a horrible, picky, anal-retentive pedant, you haven't met a compiler yet. One misspelling can change your code from a working program no an uncompilable heap of junk. Worse, it could turn into a compilable but dangerously instable heap of junk!

    Richard
  8. 22 Jun '12 08:47
    thanks for the advice guys. im going to do a small 30pt maths refresher which should take me up to 1st year a'level standard and then take it from there.

    my programming so far is a bit hit and miss, they always work but are never written in the correct way. my essay writing on the digital world is going really well, so im thinking of going down that route, although i do find that side of things rather dull.
  9. 22 Jun '12 12:23
    Originally posted by Shallow Blue
    In addition to what the others have said, I'd strongly advise you also to get into the habit of paying attention to your spelling, and particularly to your punctuation. Learn to get this right as a matter of course, rather than wrong as a matter of laziness.
    Why? Well, if you think I'm a horrible, picky, anal-retentive pedant, you haven't met a ...[text shortened]... unk. Worse, it could turn into a compilable but dangerously instable heap of junk!

    Richard
    That does depend a little bit on the computer language you are programming in.
    Some are more lax than others.

    However it's still a good idea and good piece of advice.
  10. 22 Jun '12 13:19
    Originally posted by googlefudge
    That does depend a little bit on the computer language you are programming in.
    Some are more lax than others.

    However it's still a good idea and good piece of advice.
    blimey, me talking about how crap my maths is and you lot bringing up my poor use of the english language!!! my fickle male ego is taking a beating. its a good job i have a deluded sense of grandeur.

    we are using a language called sense (or scratch if you are american). its a bit like 1980's basic, i think we are using it to get used to logic gates, variables and problem solving skills. its not until the next set of blocks where we can do a bit of java.
  11. 23 Jun '12 05:41
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    blimey, me talking about how crap my maths is and you lot bringing up my poor use of the english language!!! my fickle male ego is taking a beating. its a good job i have a deluded sense of grandeur.

    we are using a language called sense (or scratch if you are american). its a bit like 1980's basic, i think we are using it to get used to logic gates, ...[text shortened]... and problem solving skills. its not until the next set of blocks where we can do a bit of java.
    I know nothing about computer programing; but I hire a lot of people and a sentence always starts with a capital letter on a CV or they don't get an interview.

  12. 23 Jun '12 06:44
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    .... and you lot bringing up my poor use of the english language!!!
    Your English language is fine, it's your inability to reach the SHIFT key that is bothering us. Most programming environments, just as most work environments, are case sensitive.
    But I can't complain too much because I frequently make typos on this forum because I don't always bother to read through my posts.
  13. 23 Jun '12 18:59
    this is a bit heavy for the interwebz but if you must know why i avoid the shift key, its because as a child i was brutally raped on the set of sesame street by a gang of capital letters and elmo. ive never been able to use them or the color red since. most employers have been very understanding and sensitive about my problem. let us never talk of this or capitals again gentlemen, as you can understand these are not memories i wish to dwell on.
  14. 25 Jun '12 11:19
    Originally posted by stellspalfie
    this is a bit heavy for the interwebz but if you must know why i avoid the shift key, its because as a child i was brutally raped on the set of sesame street by a gang of capital letters and elmo. ive never been able to use them or the color red since. most employers have been very understanding and sensitive about my problem. let us never talk of this or capitals again gentlemen, as you can understand these are not memories i wish to dwell on.
    That's not a matter to make jokes about.

    Proper punctuation is important, dammit!

    Richard