Beginner: Terrible At Math

I’m terrible at math, am new to coding and I have no programming experience. However, I still would like to start my path to becoming a softwared developer (backend developer). I’ve started learning Ruby from Code Academy as early as yesterday. Which I heard was the easiest to learn. I’m at the point where I’m trying to figure out what does these syntaxes asking me to type in mean?
My goal is to obtain a degree using my FASFA because I can’t afford a bootcamp nor expense straight from the pocket so I’m thinking about enrolling in WGU (Westerns Governers University), Full Sail or The Art Institute of Washington because I feel like I need a degree to become an expert as well as that type of teaching to better & quickly understand. By researching here, bureau labor of statistics and other places a CS would be great to have as well as knowledge in HTML, JAVA and various other programs. Any advice on where is a good place to start. Right now I’m learning fractions and Ruby cause I feel that I have to improve my math greatly espcieally if I decide to go the degree route. Any thoughts? Feel free to be blunt! :slight_smile:

Math, this is a very divisive topic where I am from and myself and most of my friends believe that it is vital in helping you push yourself further in the field of computer science, especially in languages and projects that will require you to solve complicated tasks. With that being said, even as I have learned, I am quite a bit more passionate about programming and it’s problem solving, than with mathematics. However, they are quite symbiotic, and the more of each you are able to deploy the better.

This greatly depends on the institution you attend for a CS degree. As you’ve already noted it is a scientific process, and one that requires an ability to problem solve. With that being said doing one or the other will help you so long as you push yourself to actually attempt solutions to easy and hard problems.

If you are interested in topics surrounding data science, machine learning, data visualization, or modelling (applies to science and game design), I would say pursue advanced mathematics. Else, familiarize yourself with high school math, and if you feel up to it, keep going.

Topics that are usually very helpful for programmers: discrete mathematics, and set theory.

Also, don’t fear math ! It might be daunting, but that’s likely because those teaching you have also been less than passionate, if you feel down about learning it hit up some youtuber’s who are passionate about the topic, if anything you’ll learn something new.

I Hope at least a bit of this helps :slight_smile:

A common concern is whether you need to be “good at math” to be a programmer. While a great many programmers don’t use much high level math, the skills to understand and solve math problems overlap heavily with the skills to understand and solve programming problems. The better you are at one, the easier it is to learn the other. (Consider it a chicken/egg situation.)

You are touching on something else though: formal education. It sounds like you are considering a Computer Science Bachelor’s degree. To complete that degree, most universities will have a math requirement roughly along the lines of Calculus 1-3, Discrete Math, Linear Algebra, Probability and Statistics, Differential Equations.

T-ron81 have a look at this thread Math for programmers. There’s some useful info there.

I’ve been out of the industry for more than 10 years so basically lost most of my mid- to high level programming skills but before that I thought myself classic ASP and PHP despite not having had maths. You can solve a lot of problems if you have an analytical mind and can be logical, that said, I’ve often hit brick walls when it comes to complicated processes where mathematical knowledge is required.

So if and when you can, improving your math skills will improve your programming skills.


If you are looking for somewhere to start computer science, then you might want to look at taking Harvard’s Introduction to computer science, CS50x. It is available on edX for free: The are lots of reviews online and on the freeCodeCamp forum that you might find interesting.

It is quite a tough course, but doesn’t require you to know or use tons of math and the majority of students who take it on campus have never studied CS before. It may well give you an idea of the direction you want to take and you can do it at a pace that suits you without any financial outlay. My only regret with the course is that I didn’t do it sooner, as it has really improved my problem solving skills.

In terms of maths, I think every bit of math that you know will come in useful and I agree with @rcat that youtube is a great place to start.

Hope this help :slightly_smiling_face:

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Let me start off with I hate math. Math is evil, But CS is roughly half math. So, math is a necessary evil.

There is a lot to learn so getting a head start (like you are doing now :D) is always a good thing. I don’t think I can add any more resources to the discussion, as the other posters all gave great documents and references you can look into.

I only want to say you don’t have to be good, or like math to be good at CS. It defiantly does help time to time, but don’t let it prevent you from enjoying all the other things computer science has to offer and teach you. Just stick with it and you will eventually figure it out. If your naturally bad with math (like me) it might take more time than someone who is adept with math, but it’s not impossibly complicated math.

Re: math, I can’t help but insert a plug for Category Theory for Programmers, which recently re-ignited a love of math for me.

Re: formal education, I’ve done a degree at WGU; it’s fine, respectable, and having a degree will help… But don’t expect to come out of it “knowing how to program”. No one else, no formal program can do that for you. You have to put in the hard work of practicing the skills.

@frenata: Thanks, you have just set my commuter reading schedule for the next few weeks.

You don’t need to know advanced math, but math certainly does help with problem solving. Learning this subject often helps you to solve logical problems real world problems, and make algorithms in code. If you never took art your visual and graphic design wouldn’t be the same. No sense on how to used good colors, what goes well together, and how to design. The only time i really used math was in my calculator, even then there is a built in JS function to solve equations eval().