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So you are a CSE student and you are finding
yourself infuriatingly faced with a host of calculus problems that you
would not know how to approach. In fact, if you are like most Computer Science
freshman students, you are probably wondering why everybody seems to be on your
case with that much Calc. Not only are we able and willing to answer your
(implicit) question : why do I need so much Calculus for CompSci? But
we are also going to provide you with three handy solutions, which are liable
to rid you of all your calcrelated woes.
5 reasons why
you are taking Calculus as a CSE major
The answer to the above question might be obvious
to you, if you are already a Calculus geek, or it may be irrelevant, if
you are an outandout fullon math aficionado. However, we are still going to
provide you with 5 logical, sensible, even optimistic reasons for which you need
to be cramming that much Calculus into your college life, if you are planning
on going into Computer Science work and/or research.
1. Calc is used in
the natural sciences
Discrete mathematics is the umbrella term for
several branches of the field, including, but not limited to, infinite sums,
difference and differential equations, and so on. While it may not seem to be
directly connected with CSE, Calculus is pivotal for statistics. Since a lot of
fieldwork in Computer Science involves modeling data for the natural sciences,
it is important to have at least a basic understanding of calculus. If you are
like most computer scientists, data modeling for natural sciences is also likely
to be the only direct application of calculus principles that you are ever
going to come across in your work.
2. Plenty of
handson work with calculus in signal processing
Aside from the natural sciences, there are other
fields of work, like signaling, for instance, which assume a basic understanding
of calculus. Chances are you are going to run into them, as you work your way
toward graduation and the work field. Signal processing will seem indirectly
related to calculus, but you will eventually come to understand that the latter
is often used as a tool for solving problems with the former. Some schools
actually require CompSci majors to take Calc II as a requirement for Signaling.
3. Calc helps
solve natural phenomena issues via CSE
As a conclusion to the two points above, try to
think of it this way: modeling the data that occurs as a result of studying
natural phenomena involves working out the results to one equation or another.
These equations, often differential or integral, can only be solved numerically.
This is where the expertise of a Computer Science major comes in handy.
There is no other known way of solving such equations without the aid of
Calculus methods.
4. (Depending on
your school) you will get the link between CSE and Calc sooner or later
The point here is that most CompSci and related
programs at the best US schools will make at least some use of Calculus,
both in teaching abstract, theoretical concepts, as well as in demonstrating
practical, real world applications. At Purdue, for instance, CompSci graduates
are required to know all about distributed calculation, while Computer
Engineering majors will go through a very mathcentric college experience, in
which both system design and physics classes will require solid knowledge of
Calc. At OSU, to use another example, CSE stands for Computer Science
Engineering, a degree which requires Calc III, set theory, and discrete
mathematics. The same school also offers a Computer Information Science program,
which only requires Calc II.
5. Like it or not,
as a Computer Scientist Calculus is going to help no matter what you do
If you are a freshman, or freshman tobe, it is
perfectly normal to be a bit baffled as to the practical applications of
calculus. However, as many graduates will tell you, no matter what branch of
Computer Science you go into, CSE is going to come in handy. Here are four
completely different scenarios:
·
You become an academic. This point actually applies to any
major in any field, from anthropology and comparative literature, right back to
hard sciences such as molecular biology and computer engineering.
PhDlevel research nowadays almost always entails the use of math. This is where
calculus is definitely going to come in handy, even if you only have a basic
understanding of the field.
·
You become a game programmer. It does not even matter if you
end up designing your own game engine or not. The important aspect here is that
Calculus and Physics, when combined, will allow you to form a clear
understanding of how ingame objects move, interact, and influence each
others trajectories, because of the forces that act upon them.
·
You work in data analysis. This touches on one of the points
made above. Many Computer Scientists find themselves working in labs, together
with natural scientists in any of the following fields: physics, biology,
chemistry, etc. These professionals are, by nature of their occupation, forced
to manipulate big data sets. The only way one can do this, you have guessed it,
is by using calculus and computer clusters to solve complex equations.
·
You go into Machine Learning. This is probably the hottest
field in Computer Science at the moment  and that is obviously because
humanity has long since dreamt of teaching *The Machine* various things. If
you are not familiar with the field, it is the intersection between data
modeling, CSE, and math; without a solid knowledge of calculus, there is no way
you can ever dream of successfully performing in the field of machine learning.
3 solutions to all
your Calc problems
#1 CalcChat
It is not at all uncommon for undergraduate
calculus students to be stuck on CalcChat for hours on end. The website, which
provides solutions to Ron Larson textbooks in Calculus, Precalculus, Applied
Calculus, Linear Algebra and College Algebra, of all levels, from 3e to 9e and
upward. The website is actually maintained by Larson Texts Inc., which is using
the platform to generate free publicity, as well as to help students by offering
them stepbystep solutions to oddnumbered exercises. It might seem
strange at first that they are willing to provide information worth hundreds of
dollars for free, but there are several catches to it. First off, they are only
actually giving website visitors access to the odd numbered problems in the
textbooks, not the even numbered ones, too. Then, they also provide online Calc
assistance to students, which is paid for.
CalcChat is also known for its positive, cheerful
social media presence, both on Facebook, as on Twitter. This achieves several
goals in one fell swoop: it engages student audiences through communication
channels they feel comfortable with and also generates a positive image for the
Larson brand. Finally, working as an online Calc assistant might just be a great
job for a collegelevel math student, who wants to enjoy the comfort of working
from home.
#2 The only
quadratic solver you will ever need
We are going to assume that you have arrived at
this point in the article because you are already taking Calc (or at least
PreCalc). However, in case you needed a primer, the formula is this:
ax^{2}
+ bx + c = 0, where a ≠ 0
There are plenty of free quadratic equation
solvers available online nowadays, such as the ones on Math.com
and MathIsFun;
actually, if you are so inclined, you can even learn how to solve such an
equation by using an Excel chart in this nifty tutorial.
Alternatively, if you are looking for a more applied version, you can try this Wolfram
Quadratic
Equation Solver, a factoring
quadratic
expressions solver, or a quadratic
inequalities
solver.
But what we really recommend, for factoring,
function graphs, the inequality situation, and any expression (be it with or
without limits) in between, is not an online app, a manual, instructions, or
other tips and tricks. We have previously written a stepbystep guide on how to
use the TI83 and TI 84 Plus calculators as quadratic equation solvers. All it
takes to get from creating the program to finding out an answer four simple
steps, which will never fail you, no matter the problem. The advantage of using
your handheld calculator to find out the answers to quadratics is that you also
benefit from the devices splendid graphing functions, which are going to be
far more accurate and suitable for complex problems than any online app.
#3 TI Connect
If you are already using one such calculator,
then it is high time you knew how important it is to take your TI 84 online. In
case you have not already, it is a good idea to download and install TI
Connect, the software solution that aims to transfer data between your
calculator and your computer, update your software, download apps, and provide
backups for your graphing calculator. Though many complain that the software is
unstable with new versions of Texas Instruments calculators, the TI84 Plus
Range has always been notorious for its stability and using the TI Connect
interface makes no exception to this rule.