Author Topic: Why little math required for electronics?  (Read 4272 times)

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Offline coppercone2

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #25 on: April 28, 2019, 08:06:53 pm »
There is a growing push to teach statistics or more linear algebra instead of calculus to engineers.



You take random signals class.. it teaches you all the stuff with PDF etc.

My suggestion: do the 4 year degree in 5 years and spread your classes out. That will reduce the math induced rage most students get because they do something crazy like take two far-out math classes in 1 semester (say multivariable calculus, programming C++ and RF theory in the same semester).

Planning actually makes a good engineer. That means going to the school office and spending some time interviewing the secretaries about when classes will be available and stuff (its a good primer for the real engineering world where you have to interrogate people constantly about status of things). And developing contingencies too (i.e. you fail a class, does that mean your gonna do some crazy scheduling next semester? or did you plan ahead to see where you can re-take hard classes so you don't get a double wammy (like do research and tell yourself realistically you have a 70% of passing that thing without destroying your life).
« Last Edit: April 28, 2019, 08:11:53 pm by coppercone2 »
 

Offline NorthGuy

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #26 on: April 28, 2019, 08:30:17 pm »
My question then, is why does acquiring an electrical engineering degree require so much math?

Education is for the benefit of the student, not necessarily to provide a set of skills which are immediately usable. Most people who go to work after a college need to do quite a bit of specific learning directly at their place of work. If they have a broad educational base, they can learn new things faster and more effectively.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #27 on: April 28, 2019, 08:52:21 pm »
Being familiar with somewhat advanced maths topics (fourier/laplace transforms, differential equations, etc.) can only be beneficial. It's another tool in your arsenal that you take out when you need to tackle slightly more complex problems.

From personal experience, the people that speak loudest against "wasting time" to learn them either:
a) never learned them themselves, or
b) took a class and memorized procedures without ever fully grasping them, therefore never applying the knowledge on real life problems.

You have no shortage of mediocre engineers in the world. Strive to become better.

Agreed, but I'd add:

c) took a class, failed it, managed to get a job where other people did the necessary theory, therefore think that theory isn't necessary and that practical skills are all that counts
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Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #28 on: April 28, 2019, 08:56:28 pm »
I actually think calculus education is useful. It does not even get hard until you get to multivariable equations.

Calculus is fun and has direct relevance to everyday life - and is easy.

I was taught differentiation from first principles in 2 1.5 hour lessons, and integration in another pair of 1.5 hour lessons. We were 14 at the time.

OK, it was only polynomials except 1/x. The transcendental functions had to wait until we were 15 :)
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Offline blueskull

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #29 on: April 28, 2019, 08:59:39 pm »
TAoE is a good practical handbook, not a formal textbook. From an academic perspective, it is at very low level, far from the state of the art.

It's designed to be a quick reference book, but it's not designed to give you the required insight to be a good researcher in electronics.
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #30 on: April 28, 2019, 09:05:32 pm »
My question then, is why does acquiring an electrical engineering degree require so much math?

Education is for the benefit of the student, not necessarily to provide a set of skills which are immediately usable. Most people who go to work after a college need to do quite a bit of specific learning directly at their place of work. If they have a broad educational base, they can learn new things faster and more effectively.

Exactly.

If university spits out people that have all the knowledge for a job, then it is a trade school producing technicians not a university producing engineers. (ObCaveat: nothing wrong with that).

For a neat example of that distinction by one of the masters of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, spead read "Profession" at http://www.abelard.org/asimov.php
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #31 on: April 28, 2019, 09:12:57 pm »
TAoE is a good practical handbook, not a formal textbook. From an academic perspective, it is at very low level, far from the state of the art.

It's designed to be a quick reference book, but it's not designed to give you the required insight to be a good researcher in electronics.

That's a good point.

TAoE is aimed at people that have been taught the fundamental theory, and are having to use electronics to get their job done. Hence it is a documentation of the practical art of how to do things in 2015. Compare that with theory, which lasts more than an entire career.

Of course it goes into considerable depth, so it is also useful for practicing electronic engineers as well as other people using electronics.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline chickenHeadKnob

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #32 on: April 28, 2019, 09:36:39 pm »
Exactly.

If university spits out people that have all the knowledge for a job, then it is a trade school producing technicians not a university producing engineers. (ObCaveat: nothing wrong with that).

For a neat example of that distinction by one of the masters of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, spead read "Profession" at http://www.abelard.org/asimov.php

Yesss, tggzzz (and Blueskull) homes in on the real reason. A proper university is not a trade school. Their function is not to create job ready tradesmen or even engineers, but rather the next generation of professors/researchers.
 
This type of thread occurs with some regularity on this forum. Almost invariably what is behind it is some combination of math angst, or a need to feel superior to academics, or a need to overcome a deep-seated inferiority complex which then leads to the preceding. "My professor is so useless, couldn't design a working circuit if his life depended on it", ect.

Math is tough, lets go shopping, says Barbie girl.

I am not pointing fingers at the original poster. I am one of the few who revelled in the Math and other arcane subjects during my Uni days even though I knew I wouldn’t stay in the academic track. Enjoy the academic life while you can. before the real world sucks the life out of you.
 

Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #33 on: April 28, 2019, 10:30:18 pm »

you can also simply accept the stuff that has already been proven over and over and move on ...

Every year millions of students get questions on their finals to prove this or that theorem. Why ? Do math teachers really have no imagination ? Those theorems are sometimes thousands of years old and have been proven by billions of students through the ages. Do they really think there is need to prove it once again ? are they still unsure about them ?

Well there are multiple reasons I'd say:

1) Having students prove things is so that the students gain a true understanding of the WHY behind the mathematics. Just as the high-level math and physics is needed to understand the theory behind engineering, within the math itself there is the surface level stuff and then the theory behind it. For example, I am working my way through a calculus textbook right now. The book explains the concept but then shows the proof. Now to understand how to apply the concept is one thing, and that can often be done easily, but to understand the proof behind it can be a lot harder and take more thinking. More applied calculus classes will not focus much on proofs, but rather on using the calculus for various real-world problems, whereas the more pure math calculus classes, often graduate-level, will work through calculus a second time, but this time, teaching all the proofs, so that students gain a really deep, true understanding of it.

It is debated from what I understand in the teaching of calculus regarding proofs, because some are of the opinion that proofs should more be left for after teaching calculus and how to use it, letting the knowledge sink in, and then re-teaching it, this time going hardcore into proofs (graduate-level calc).

2) A reason to teach proofs though I think also depends on the particular calculus class. If the university uses the same calculus classes for teaching the initial mathematics to physics, engineering, chemistry, biology, statistics, computer science, etc...and of course mathematics majors, then they often want proofs to help students more deeply understand the math itself and also, if a math major, to prepare the student for more pure math, as knowing how to work out proofs is essential to advance the field of mathematics. 
 

Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #34 on: April 28, 2019, 10:30:58 pm »
TAoE is a good practical handbook, not a formal textbook. From an academic perspective, it is at very low level, far from the state of the art.

It's designed to be a quick reference book, but it's not designed to give you the required insight to be a good researcher in electronics.

Well it looks very advanced to my ultra beginner self, so have I got a lot to learn :)
 

Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #35 on: April 28, 2019, 10:38:27 pm »

Yesss, tggzzz (and Blueskull) homes in on the real reason. A proper university is not a trade school. Their function is not to create job ready tradesmen or even engineers, but rather the next generation of professors/researchers.
 
This type of thread occurs with some regularity on this forum. Almost invariably what is behind it is some combination of math angst, or a need to feel superior to academics, or a need to overcome a deep-seated inferiority complex which then leads to the preceding. "My professor is so useless, couldn't design a working circuit if his life depended on it", ect.

Math is tough, lets go shopping, says Barbie girl.

I am not pointing fingers at the original poster. I am one of the few who revelled in the Math and other arcane subjects during my Uni days even though I knew I wouldn’t stay in the academic track. Enjoy the academic life while you can. before the real world sucks the life out of you.

I want to be clear again that I have no math angst nor am trying to find an excuse to not do it or anything like that. I actually love mathematics and am very much enjoying working through calculus right now. I then plan to work through linear algebra, differential equations, and beyond. My question was purely curiosity in terms of how much math is actually needed in the real world of engineering is all, because I had encountered some threads on Reddit with engineers saying they haven't used it since college and because some electronics books had said it isn't much needed to design good circuits.

IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #36 on: April 28, 2019, 10:41:59 pm »
What I was finding confusing was that in some forums when asked, a lot of engineers were saying that they haven't used calculus since college.
There is a difference between not using math very often and not knowing it at all.  Furthermore, I would bet those engineers were using it intuitively without even thinking about it.  For a fact, I used Fourier Analysis just one time in my career.  It was fun to play with and the project was important but it just turned out that I never needed it before or after.  But I did know how it worked!
Quote
And it was just making me wonder if, other than in certain applications, you technically could have a person who didn't know any calculus or physics work in the same position as the engineer who had to learn all that stuff and yet design circuits just as well.
Highly unlikely!  Furthermore, it is unlikely the lesser educated technician would ever be given an opportunity to find out.  I worked for a very large company and it always seemed to me that those with MS degrees were higher ranked and higher paid than those with BS level degrees.  All of the big kids had MS degrees or higher.
Quote
BTW, this question is out of curiosity, I have no issue with math or physics or any of that, I actually love calculus and calculus-based math in fact.
Math is a lot easier in the age of the computer.  I graduated at a time where the HP35 had JUST been released and the slide rule was king.  Poles and Zeros?  Use a spirule!

Today we have some very nice tools like MATLAB and wxMaxima.  MATLAB also has MANY add-on packages for specialized applications.  Simulink for MATLAB!  This is a great tool for simulating control systems - the kind of thing that simply didn't exist back in the early '70s.  Great stuff!
 

Offline rstofer

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #37 on: April 28, 2019, 10:56:59 pm »
IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)

I take a different point of view about engineering.  I don't want to DO engineering, I want to get paid to BUY engineering.  There's more money in managing engineering than there is in doing it.

 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #38 on: April 28, 2019, 11:28:43 pm »
TAoE is a good practical handbook, not a formal textbook. From an academic perspective, it is at very low level, far from the state of the art.

It's designed to be a quick reference book, but it's not designed to give you the required insight to be a good researcher in electronics.

Well it looks very advanced to my ultra beginner self, so have I got a lot to learn :)

In any interesting career, that will continue to be true throughout the career.

The alternative is stagnation, where nothing has changed since graduation. Some prefer that. I don't. You might care to decide what is right for you. Your choices can legitimately vary over time.

As Frank Herbert put it in the Dune saga, "the easy path that leads ever downwardstowards stagnation".
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #39 on: April 28, 2019, 11:35:02 pm »
IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)

I take a different point of view about engineering.  I don't want to DO engineering, I want to get paid to BUY engineering.  There's more money in managing engineering than there is in doing it.

I explicitly considered such a career path, and explicitly decided not to.

There is, of course, nothing reprehensible about selling your soul in that way.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
Having fun doing more, with less
 

Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #40 on: April 29, 2019, 02:39:26 am »
IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)

I take a different point of view about engineering.  I don't want to DO engineering, I want to get paid to BUY engineering.  There's more money in managing engineering than there is in doing it.

If you have no passion for engineering, then sure, go to whichever makes the most money. But me personally, I could never go into management.
 

Online 0culus

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #41 on: April 29, 2019, 03:12:40 am »
TAoE is a good practical handbook, not a formal textbook. From an academic perspective, it is at very low level, far from the state of the art.

It's designed to be a quick reference book, but it's not designed to give you the required insight to be a good researcher in electronics.

Well it looks very advanced to my ultra beginner self, so have I got a lot to learn :)

The best way I've seen it explained is that AoE is a great handbook (as others have mentioned) for doing practical things with just enough theory to get by (I think the only really deep mathematics in AoE show up when they discuss reactance, complex impedance, etc.) If you need more, you'll be better served by finding a specific textbook on the subject you need greater depth in.
 

Online 0culus

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #42 on: April 29, 2019, 03:16:27 am »

Yesss, tggzzz (and Blueskull) homes in on the real reason. A proper university is not a trade school. Their function is not to create job ready tradesmen or even engineers, but rather the next generation of professors/researchers.
 
This type of thread occurs with some regularity on this forum. Almost invariably what is behind it is some combination of math angst, or a need to feel superior to academics, or a need to overcome a deep-seated inferiority complex which then leads to the preceding. "My professor is so useless, couldn't design a working circuit if his life depended on it", ect.

Math is tough, lets go shopping, says Barbie girl.

I am not pointing fingers at the original poster. I am one of the few who revelled in the Math and other arcane subjects during my Uni days even though I knew I wouldn’t stay in the academic track. Enjoy the academic life while you can. before the real world sucks the life out of you.

I want to be clear again that I have no math angst nor am trying to find an excuse to not do it or anything like that. I actually love mathematics and am very much enjoying working through calculus right now. I then plan to work through linear algebra, differential equations, and beyond. My question was purely curiosity in terms of how much math is actually needed in the real world of engineering is all, because I had encountered some threads on Reddit with engineers saying they haven't used it since college and because some electronics books had said it isn't much needed to design good circuits.

IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)

The point of studying the mathematics isn't that you'll use it again (whether you do or not depends on where you go with your career), but the way it teaches you to think. I have a math degree and a computer science degree (adding an MS in CS very soon). The heavy math that shows up in the upper divisions of both are not what I want to do with my life. But, learning that way of thinking is invaluable IMO. I like to think of it as a license to learn. I now have the toolbox to crack open a technical textbook of my choice and learn it on my own.
 

Online hamster_nz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #43 on: April 29, 2019, 03:23:58 am »
IN FACT, I was also wondering because I found it a bit depressing that, if you are a person who loves math and science and the arcane engineering stuff (of which electrical engineering and electronics has tons of), you wouldn't actually have an excuse to use it in your real-world job ;)

I take a different point of view about engineering.  I don't want to DO engineering, I want to get paid to BUY engineering.  There's more money in managing engineering than there is in doing it.

If you have no passion for engineering, then sure, go to whichever makes the most money. But me personally, I could never go into management.

I am old(ish) but by no means rich... but old enough that I can offer a tidbit of advice that might help somebody, or then again may be completely useless.

Even if you have a passion for engineering you will never make a fortune only off of the results of your own effort, To make your way up the  ladder (if that is your aim) then you have to do it by taking a small cut of the effort of many others. That might mean team leader, or manager, or CEO, otherwise you will never get to be an richer than your hourly charge out rate (less everybody else's cut of your efforts) dictates.

That is why the Uber founders will be rich, and their drivers, opps sorry, independent contractors will be on or below  minimum wage and working 60+ hour weeks.
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Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #44 on: April 29, 2019, 04:11:31 am »

I am old(ish) but by no means rich... but old enough that I can offer a tidbit of advice that might help somebody, or then again may be completely useless.

Even if you have a passion for engineering you will never make a fortune only off of the results of your own effort, To make your way up the  ladder (if that is your aim) then you have to do it by taking a small cut of the effort of many others. That might mean team leader, or manager, or CEO, otherwise you will never get to be an richer than your hourly charge out rate (less everybody else's cut of your efforts) dictates.

That is why the Uber founders will be rich, and their drivers, opps sorry, independent contractors will be on or below  minimum wage and working 60+ hour weeks.

Certainly; my thinking was more, if I could either work and make say $60K/yr as an engineer doing a job I love or make $300K/yr doing a job I don't much care about or even hate, I'd prefer the $60K engineering job. But yes, to make really serious money, you need to either go into management or be a successful entrepreneur.
 

Online vk6zgo

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #45 on: April 29, 2019, 04:54:23 am »
My question then, is why does acquiring an electrical engineering degree require so much math?

Education is for the benefit of the student, not necessarily to provide a set of skills which are immediately usable. Most people who go to work after a college need to do quite a bit of specific learning directly at their place of work. If they have a broad educational base, they can learn new things faster and more effectively.

Exactly.


If university spits out people that have all the knowledge for a job, then it is a trade school producing technicians not a university producing engineers. (ObCaveat: nothing wrong with that).

For a neat example of that distinction by one of the masters of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, spead read "Profession" at http://www.abelard.org/asimov.php

Nope! That is what the modern fake technical education does---"monkey see, monkey do".
The old Technician training system was wide ranging, & albeit at a lower level, taught a wide gamut of theory.

Re:- calculus.
It is easy to learn, but many students, (like me) were lost in the breakneck speed at which it was taught in the past at some institutions.

I started the Class, (night school after work, alongside several electronics subjects), had the flu, & missed a week.
We had just been introduced to  simple "Functions of x", or whatever, but when I came back it was "functions of a function".

I bobbed along in the wake for a few weeks,then gave up!

The best thing I got out of that, was the text book, which I kept for years, dipping into it from time to time, but getting scared off.

Many years later, I had occasion to learn calculus, as part of an "in house" bridging training scheme.
It was pretty easy, for the most part, but when I couldn't understand the supplied text, the old book was gold!

Since that time, I haven't had any occasion to use calculus, so it has slowly drifted away.
As I am now retired, I have to learn how to sleep in front of the TV, & drool down my cardigan, so I doubt I will ever have the spare time to revise any branch of mathematics.

PS:I think my iPad is after me!
It substituted "die" for "sleep" in the above paragraph!
 

Online tggzzz

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #46 on: April 29, 2019, 08:23:04 am »
My question then, is why does acquiring an electrical engineering degree require so much math?

Education is for the benefit of the student, not necessarily to provide a set of skills which are immediately usable. Most people who go to work after a college need to do quite a bit of specific learning directly at their place of work. If they have a broad educational base, they can learn new things faster and more effectively.

Exactly.


If university spits out people that have all the knowledge for a job, then it is a trade school producing technicians not a university producing engineers. (ObCaveat: nothing wrong with that).

For a neat example of that distinction by one of the masters of science fiction, Isaac Asimov, spead read "Profession" at http://www.abelard.org/asimov.php

Nope! That is what the modern fake technical education does---"monkey see, monkey do".
The old Technician training system was wide ranging, & albeit at a lower level, taught a wide gamut of theory.

There is and always has been a wide range of education. Asimov's story was written in 1957 and is as valid then as now.

Quote
Since that time, I haven't had any occasion to use calculus, so it has slowly drifted away.
As I am now retired, I have to learn how to sleep in front of the TV, & drool down my cardigan, so I doubt I will ever have the spare time to revise any branch of mathematics.

PS:I think my iPad is after me!
It substituted "die" for "sleep" in the above paragraph!

I too really love auto-corrupt entry text systems.
There are lies, damned lies, statistics - and ADC/DAC specs.
Glider pilot's aphorism: "there is no substitute for span". Retort: "There is a substitute: skill+imagination. But you can buy span".
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Offline johnwa

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #47 on: April 29, 2019, 09:11:07 am »


Since that time, I haven't had any occasion to use calculus, so it has slowly drifted away.
As I am now retired, I have to learn how to sleep in front of the TV, & drool down my cardigan, so I doubt I will ever have the spare time to revise any branch of mathematics.


It seems that differential and integral calculus in particular is one of the things that is frequently labelled as 'useless'. Now, if you are only talking about finding derivatives and integrals of symbolic expressions, this is something that a lot of people will only need to do relatively rarely - I needed to use the quotient rule the other day for the first time in years, had to look it up. But there is so much more to calculus than this. Understanding the ideas behind finite difference approximations and numerical integration, related rates, graph sketching - I use this all the time. Especially in signal processing, it is a key skill to be able to think "the frequency looks like this as a function of time, what does the phase look like? What will it look like after we differentiate it/integrate it/multiply it with this other signal?"
 

Offline Kyl8145

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #48 on: April 29, 2019, 10:00:36 am »


Since that time, I haven't had any occasion to use calculus, so it has slowly drifted away.
As I am now retired, I have to learn how to sleep in front of the TV, & drool down my cardigan, so I doubt I will ever have the spare time to revise any branch of mathematics.


It seems that differential and integral calculus in particular is one of the things that is frequently labelled as 'useless'. Now, if you are only talking about finding derivatives and integrals of symbolic expressions, this is something that a lot of people will only need to do relatively rarely - I needed to use the quotient rule the other day for the first time in years, had to look it up. But there is so much more to calculus than this. Understanding the ideas behind finite difference approximations and numerical integration, related rates, graph sketching - I use this all the time. Especially in signal processing, it is a key skill to be able to think "the frequency looks like this as a function of time, what does the phase look like? What will it look like after we differentiate it/integrate it/multiply it with this other signal?"

I've read signal processing is basically a branch of applied mathematics in its own right.
 

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Re: Why little math required for electronics?
« Reply #49 on: April 29, 2019, 12:03:38 pm »
I actually think calculus education is useful. It does not even get hard until you get to multivariable equations.

If you want to make engineering boring then sure, skip the DE and MV and just teach linear algebra. :barf: I hated it.

Precisely it was linear algebra what I found most rewarding when coping with hard problems. But, as a student, I found it, as you did, really boring.
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