What math do you really need, and what's some that you never really use ?

Thread Starter

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
149
I'm going back over some calculus, linear algebra and ODE's, and looking at some calculus with complex numbers. I'm not planning to go back over 1st year real analysis.

I'm not going to be designing IC's, but what else should I look into ? How far can 1st/2nd year university math get someone for hobby level and repair EE ?

If someone does do +4year EE degree(s), how much math past 1st/2nd year do they really need ?
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,783
i use everything and constantly learn more on my own... there is so much more to know. i would say there is no limit how much could be useful.
but that did not stop me from repairing complex circuits, building my own circuits and having fun long before i learned calculus etc.
 

jpanhalt

Joined Jan 18, 2008
8,129
In college, I did not take differential equations as I didn't think I would need that part of calculus. In fact, I didn't take any calculus in college and relied only on my one semester high school course. After college, I effectively changed majors for awhile and continued graduate study in chemistry. To put it simply, thermodynamics was a "challenge" without differential calculus.

You never know the future, and I count as one of my biggest mistakes not taking those math courses when I had the opportunity.
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
460
If someone does do +4year EE degree(s), how much math past 1st/2nd year do they really need ?
[/QUOTE]

I don't know what math is required now but in my day, many years ago in England we had to learn probability, how to do Fourier analysis and we spent a whole year on hyperbolic functions. It turned out that the time was completely wasted. The advent of computers obsoleted them with practical FFT and curve fitting software. I have used both of these along with standard arithmetic, geometry, algebra and calculus during my career and as a hobbyist. I am not a gambling man so I have never yet had a need to apply the probability math that I learned.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
24,854
What you "need" is so very specific to exactly what you end up doing that it's very hard to go into much detail. But consider that the limits of your knowledge and skills defines the boundary of what you have the opportunity to pursue, so why artificially limit yourself?

Also, a lot of tools and techniques that we use, such as complex analysis and transform methods, are based on higher-level math and the better we understand that math and how those methods relate to it, the more effectively we can use and understand those methods -- and avoid their limitations where others just blunder on through. So even though you might not use that higher-level math directly, you are still using it and still benefit from understanding it. Your skills with math that you don't use directly will fade, but a lot of the understanding that you gained will still be there as a part of you.
 

SamR

Joined Mar 19, 2019
1,302
I took Calculus and Differential Equations in College and used them in college courses. After I graduated all I used was Algebra and Trig. Statics and Moments of Inertia were used but only with algebra. Almost all of our Reference Books in the Engineering Library that I consulted and used were NOT in Calculus.
 

Papabravo

Joined Feb 24, 2006
12,563
I took quite a few Math courses and all of it was ultimately useful. I don't feel that any of the time I spent learning it was wasted.
 

MrChips

Joined Oct 2, 2009
19,425
Basic math, geometry, trigonometry, calculus, vectors, differential equations, complex numbers.

If you want to push ahead, include transforms, specifically Fourier and Laplace transforms.
 

panic mode

Joined Oct 10, 2011
1,783
i wish i could take more math classes... math is power. and pays my bills...

faculty forced me to take some stupid elective courses (humanities, economics, languages) designed to make engineers "more socially acceptable" because this is what gets you accredited degree.

personally i think such silly causes are doing just the opposite, they are closest thing to cause derangement in engineers. ;)
 

Thread Starter

DarthVolta

Joined Jan 27, 2015
149
Ok so I do know a good junk of what I'd need so far.

I like math/physics in general. I have to learn more Diff-Eqn's, vector calculus, then some tensor calculus, group theory and advanced algebra type stuff. And statics/probability.

I've had books on classical electromagnetism, QM and general relativity for years. If I don't make the math effort now, I'll be a senior citizen and still be putting it off.
 

profbuxton

Joined Feb 21, 2014
418
What maths do you really need?? Learn how to handle money, make and receive change, calculate tips(specially in the US), calculate percentages for loans, discounts etc.
Calculate returns on investment and stocks. Manage bank accounts. Track expenses and taxes.
Thats the math you REALLY need. The rest is just to satisfy a need to show you are smart!
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
460
What maths do you really need?? Learn how to handle money, make and receive change, calculate tips(specially in the US), calculate percentages for loans, discounts etc.
Calculate returns on investment and stocks. Manage bank accounts. Track expenses and taxes.
Thats the math you REALLY need. The rest is just to satisfy a need to show you are smart!
All you need to do that is basic grade 8 math.
Most of us don't consider that money and financial gain are the most important things in life. It is simply a means to pay for the essentials with enough left over to enable us to pursue our hobbies and interests.
 

profbuxton

Joined Feb 21, 2014
418
KeithWalker, you may be right about it being 8th grade(I guess thats US grades), but you be surprised how many people "graduate" from our high schools with next to no ability to do simple maths as mentioned, let alone being able to string a proper english(or OZ) sentence together. Just how a search on where we stand in global(sorry , flat earthers) ranking for education.
Money may not be the most important thing in some peoples lives but it comes a close second. If it wasn't so important why do we have so many rich people wielding power over us?
 

KeithWalker

Joined Jul 10, 2017
460
KeithWalker, you may be right about it being 8th grade(I guess thats US grades), but you be surprised how many people "graduate" from our high schools with next to no ability to do simple maths as mentioned, let alone being able to string a proper english(or OZ) sentence together. Just how a search on where we stand in global(sorry , flat earthers) ranking for education.
Money may not be the most important thing in some peoples lives but it comes a close second. If it wasn't so important why do we have so many rich people wielding power over us?
I guess our Canadian 8th. grade is equivalent to the same US grade, that is pre-highschool. We have the same problem with illiteracy here but it is inevitable when you consider that 17% of the population has an I.Q. of 85 or less.
We have people wielding power over us because they are motivated by the acquisition power and wealth. I feel a little sorry for them because they can never get enough, and they are never really fulfilled.
 

WBahn

Joined Mar 31, 2012
24,854
What maths do you really need?? Learn how to handle money, make and receive change, calculate tips(specially in the US), calculate percentages for loans, discounts etc.
Calculate returns on investment and stocks. Manage bank accounts. Track expenses and taxes.
Thats the math you REALLY need. The rest is just to satisfy a need to show you are smart!
Sure am glad that the people developing all the things that those investment returns are based on didn't feel that way.
 

SteveSh

Joined Nov 5, 2019
104
One of the purposes of an engineering degree is to give you the background to have a career that may run 40, 50, or more years. It is impossible to say now what skills and math knowledge will be needed 20, 30, 40, or 50 years in the future. It's a lot easier to get that background now, when you're younger and in the "learning mode" than to try to learn an entirely new topic when your 50. I for one cannot imagine trying to delve into Finite Machine Theory or Discrete Structures at this point in my career.
 

dl324

Joined Mar 30, 2015
9,154
I'm not going to be designing IC's, but what else should I look into ? How far can 1st/2nd year university math get someone for hobby level and repair EE ?
It depends on what aspects of IC design you work on. These days EE's don't use their math skills much to design IC's.

For a hobby, you can get by with little math because just about everything you'll need has already been solved. You pretty much just look up equations and plug in values.
If someone does do +4year EE degree(s), how much math past 1st/2nd year do they really need ?
I'd follow the recommendations of the degree program you're taking. You never know when it will come in handy. Somehow, I managed to graduate from high school without taking trigonometry. That really hurt me in calculus because I hadn't memorized all of the identities.

Any math you learn will probably get rusty if you don't use it frequently enough, but reviewing material you've already learned will be easier than learning it from scratch on your own.
 

visionofast

Joined Oct 17, 2018
63
There's a branch in signal processing courses called BSP, in that you can realize the real meaning of maths in practice...human's body,bilogy,nature and etc...
Nearly all of our knowlege comes from nature ,so you'll find the true experience of mathematical formula's in BSP.
 
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