Programming and Maths – To What Extent Do They Overlap?

Once you decide to start programming, there can be a certain amount of fear that programming can require a lot of mathematical knowledge, since it may appear at first it is all about algorithms, codes, and counting. The good news is that you do not need to keep all maths lessons at the same time, yet you will have to apply certain units when doing particular programming tasks. As a matter of fact, you will need some basic high school knowledge of maths to understand how programming works, and if you think you missed the important maths lessons, you will have to brush up on it for programming purposes. 


The thing is that, if you are a programming novice, you will need more logical thinking for mastering some basic coding than complex maths skills.

People often mistake logical thinking for mathematical skills, and this is something which you should keep in mind – be brave to discover whether programming suits you no matter whether you used to be good or bad at maths in school. Besides logical thinking, programming would include a trial-and-error approach, and a lot of Googling, which requires only basic arithmetic. 

What you need to know

The moment you reach graphic design and games programming, you will need a knowledge of trigonometry, differentials, and polar coordinates. If you want to specialise in Operating System design, you will definitely need Boolean algebra, abstract algebra, computational complexity, and efficiency, as well as optimization. At some point, you will also need statistics, and it all depends on the branch of programming you want to devote to. 

Programming languages use the concept of function notation. They combine notation and mathematical function and they extend this concept to general computing. The difference between a mathematical function and a programming function is that a programming function does not always result in a value. 

Probability and combinatorics can play an important role in programming, so the experts recommend you to get a hang of some basics in these two maths fields. The knowledge and experience in combinatorics will prepare you to calculate the odds of an issue that is about to happen, and in programming, these skills are more sophisticated in nature. 

An example

The perfect example of applying combinatorics to programming is when the users have a choice of five colours and two fonts for their username. The task for programmers is to guess how many combinations will appear. It also applies to the case of choosing a password, and the task for programmers to assess the strength of a password against possible attacks, as well as the total number of possible passwords. 

Geometry is needed if you want to program computer graphics that mostly rely on shapes. This means that you will have to activate your geometry knowledge if you want to program multimedia, games, interface development of web, mobile device, or desktop computer. The good news is that you do not need to revise the different formulas, since they are all available online and you can look them up at any time.

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