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Stuck on Calc 101 for CSE? We have got the Graph Calculator for You

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 calc-related 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 out-and-out full-on 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 hands-on 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 math-centric 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 to-be, 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. PhD-level 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 in-game 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 step-by-step solutions to odd-numbered 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 college-level 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 Pre-Calc). However, in case you needed a primer, the formula is this:

ax2 + 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 step-by-step guide on how to use the TI-83 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 hand-held 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 TI-84 Plus Range has always been notorious for its stability and using the TI Connect interface makes no exception to this rule.