Should I take calculus or discrete math first?

Should I take calculus or discrete math first?

Calculus vs Discrete Math



As a college student, deciding which math elective to take can be a daunting task. Two popular choices are calculus and discrete math. Both courses are important for different reasons and can help build a strong foundation for further studies in math and other related fields. But which one should you take first? In this article, we will explore the differences between calculus and discrete math and provide you with the information you need to make the right decision.


Q: What is calculus?

Calculus is a branch of mathematics that studies continuous change, such as motion and growth. It is divided into two main categories: differential calculus and integral calculus. Differential calculus deals with the study of rates of change and slopes, while integral calculus is concerned with the accumulation of quantities and areas under and between curves.

Q: What is discrete math?

Discrete math is a branch of mathematics dealing with objects that can be represented as discrete elements. It studies combinatorics, graph theory, and logic, among others. Discrete math is used in computer science and information technology, and it focuses on algorithms, data structures, and computational complexity.

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Q: Which one should I take first?

It’s recommended to take discrete math before calculus. Whereas calculus studies continuous mathematics, discrete doesn’t. What carries over from either study to the other is an understanding of logic and proofs. One of the topics in discrete mathematics is an introduction to logic, and that may help in learning calculus. According to Math Vault, discrete math can provide a smoother transition to calculus as the student has already learned the foundational topics of logic, set theory, and combinatorics.

Q: What are some topics covered in calculus?

Calculus covers various topics depending on the level of the course. Some of the fundamental topics include limits, derivatives, integrals, sequences, and series. Other advanced topics include multivariable calculus, vector calculus, differential equations, and Fourier analysis.

Q: What are some topics covered in discrete math?

Discrete math covers various topics related to discrete objects like integers, graphs, sets, and logic. Some of the fundamental topics include propositional and predicate logic, set theory, combinatorics, and graph theory. Other advanced topics include encryption algorithms, computational geometry, and game theory.

Q: Which one is harder, calculus, or discrete math?

It is hard to say which one is harder as it depends on the student’s background, learning style, and interests. However, calculus is considered more straightforward but conceptually challenging. On the other hand, discrete math involves more abstract thinking and solving complex problems by applying algorithms and logic.

Q: Can I take both courses?

Absolutely! Taking both courses can be beneficial as they complement each other. Calculus provides a deep understanding of the fundamental concepts of calculus and helps in analyzing and modeling continuous phenomena. Discrete math, on the other hand, focuses on problem-solving methodologies and is a gateway to computer science, cryptography, and optimization.

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Choosing between calculus and discrete math can be difficult. However, with this article, we hope you have a better understanding of the differences between the two courses and can make an informed decision that aligns with your academic and career goals. Remember, both courses are important in their unique way and can help you build a strong foundation in mathematics.




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