I'm a CS major. However, a lot of TCS topics seem to be in the realm of pure math. Should I add a math major to complement understanding and for a future career in TCS?

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    $\begingroup$ yep ${}{}{}{}{}$ $\endgroup$ Commented May 9, 2022 at 16:10
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    $\begingroup$ It's not, strictly speaking, necessary. I've seen plenty of good TCS people come from "only" a CS background with math they picked up along the way. But yes, if it's an option available to you that you would enjoy and not be a burden, then I would recommend adding a math major (for the purposes of TCS) 100% :). $\endgroup$ Commented May 9, 2022 at 18:16

1 Answer 1


Three benefits of math classes:

  • Knowledge of particular mathematical topics that are useful in TCS. This is a bit specific to the circumstance, but of course it helps! Probability, combinatorics, algebra, sometimes analysis, number theory, logic, ....
  • Mathematical maturity, general comfort with proofs and mathematical reasoning. Very important.
  • Showing your qualifications on grad school applications.

But I think the specific classes you take and skills you gain are more important than whether you officially major in math or not.

  • $\begingroup$ 'algebra' but "sometimes" 'analysis, number theory'? $\endgroup$ Commented May 10, 2022 at 17:10
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    $\begingroup$ @mathworker21 what is your question or comment? I think which classes are more useful varies throughout TCS. $\endgroup$
    – usul
    Commented May 11, 2022 at 2:31

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