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How can I combine my love for mathematics with my passion for computers?


Firephyz
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It's my senior year in high school and I've been trying to figure out exactly what I want to do as a career. I love mathematics and had originally decided to go into a field of physics so as to add some practicality to the math. Over the last year or so, however, I've become increasingly interested in computers and specifically their low level, hardware functionality. As such, I have tried thinking of ways in which I can combine my love for math and computers into one field or profession. Normally, I would go right into a career in computer science or computer engineering but I always hear of the low job prospects that computer science holds in the future. Any suggestions guys? Thanks.

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There's theoretical CS which heavily involves pure mathematics, but seeing as you're interested in applied mathematics and had considered majoring in physics I'd think that, in terms of your interests, computer engineering is the way to go. And in regards to the low job prospects you hear about, more and more companies are starting in and transitioning, both their products and infrastructure, to digital media and so are heavily hiring CS/IT majors as programmers, sysadmins, and web developers. Besides that there's a heap of large companies hiring specifically for computer hardware engineering such as Intel, Microsoft, Google, etc and well as academia and other smaller ventures that you'll discover when looking for a job, and along with these you'll also find what exactly you should do to up your chances at getting hired at these companies (Quora.com often yields nice results about such questions).

 

I say go for computer engineering.

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It's been over a decade but way back when, there was a specially crafted double major in mathematics and computing science where I went. It attracted some of the smartest people I knew. While looking for jobs, some of the most interesting options, including an aerospace company and a movie special effects software company, were specifically looking for only the few who had top grades in math.

 

I would suggest that if you want to do something like that, and can handle the math and be among the top, then combining math and comp sci would be good. I suspect that the comp sci side would be the easier part. From there you can head in any direction that you want, write your own future etc. It's fairly easy/common I think to put off choosing the practical training and just add it on to a solid foundation, sometimes even learning that part on the job.

 

If you're an average achiever or just want a normal job, and the interest in math is only an interest but not an obsession you're dedicated to greatness in, then comp engineering is probably the best for low-level stuff.

Edited by md65536
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As such, I have tried thinking of ways in which I can combine my love for math and computers into one field or profession.

Every field of science I can think of uses computers to some degree. If computational work interests you then there are many many things one could do. Because of that I would say that your question is too broad. What other things interest you?

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Low-level programming and hardware are seldom used. It's the case for video cards, which serve for video games and for scientific programming, both at supercomputers and in PC. Interface libraries make their use less low-level now, but knowing the underlying hardware must still help a lot.

 

Please don't get too specialized. It's very likely that supercomputers won't use video cards more in 5 years. Video games will in the foreseeable future. Mathematics are here to stay.

 

Chip design is the main area where people are interested in hardware. However, chip design is incredibly automatic these days. I guess few dozen people worldwide implement maths in hardware and soft libraries. It's also an extremely cyclic activity. I can't recommend a career there.

 

Cryptography is (funny) math and its implementation must be very aware of the hardware.

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It's my senior year in high school and I've been trying to figure out exactly what I want to do as a career. I love mathematics and had originally decided to go into a field of physics so as to add some practicality to the math. Over the last year or so, however, I've become increasingly interested in computers and specifically their low level, hardware functionality. As such, I have tried thinking of ways in which I can combine my love for math and computers into one field or profession. Normally, I would go right into a career in computer science or computer engineering but I always hear of the low job prospects that computer science holds in the future. Any suggestions guys? Thanks.

There is computer engineering. Where you literally build the parts for the computers as well as designing the programs and things that go into the computers. It combines engineering and computer knowledge.

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It's my senior year in high school and I've been trying to figure out exactly what I want to do as a career. I love mathematics and had originally decided to go into a field of physics so as to add some practicality to the math. Over the last year or so, however, I've become increasingly interested in computers and specifically their low level, hardware functionality. As such, I have tried thinking of ways in which I can combine my love for math and computers into one field or profession. Normally, I would go right into a career in computer science or computer engineering but I always hear of the low job prospects that computer science holds in the future. Any suggestions guys? Thanks.

 

Well, you could try looking into some computer science papers for a start. AFAIK, most papers (even Python ones!) assume a good foundation in maths to understand the algorithms. The point is, computer science, looking into algorithms, understanding pointers, abstractions, (if your CS programme doesn't have it...good luck.) is a little mind-bending, if you never programmed before, but having a foundation of logic (by maths) helps out a lot.

Low job prospects probably refer to the fact that since CS is not really easy, most just maybe wander around the so-so part when companies want competent programmers, especially startups who want only the best and brightest (See Joel Spolsky's blog for info on what startups do, and also on lamenting how some CS programmes now teaches Java instead of C)

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