re: What Are the Most Important CS Principles to Learn as a New Dev from a Non-Traditional Background? VIEW POST


I think Big O is a good concept to have in the bank. I think calculus also pays off more than we think.

A lot of computer science is typically learned along the way eventually I think. Where computer science ends and software development begins is pretty hazy. So many folks will put data structures and algorithms, but I really think you pick that up no matter what.

The basics of cryptography is useful, though I don't think it matters as much in software day to day for many folks as much as for having a mental model of how a lot of privacy-based systems need to work.

I learned some CS before dropping out, and I feel like it was valuable but not critical for what I do before and after.

PS, here's another thread on the topic with more reading in addition to what folks post here.


This is great information. Thank you for always being so helpful Ben!


I 100% agree with Big 0, but not calculus.
As someone who struggled greatly with calculus, and had to try very hard to get through it. I can firmly say I haven't use calculus professionally what-so-ever.

I can see it coming in handy if your doing physics, but if your not making game engines you probably wont need calculus.


Alternatively, the people that learned calculus enough to apply day to day have a secret advantage over you that you'll never know about

Its possible there is a point where I understand calculus enough that it applies to my day to day dev work, but from what I do know of calculus, it hasn't helped me and it doesn't seem like it would help me much even if I were to go out and get a PHD in it. Again, if you go into work that relates to physics, calculus will pop up.

I found other types of CS math like discrete mathematics and finite automata
to be more relevant and useful for day to day work for programming in general. The names sound crazy, but the ideas are so relevant to basic programming concepts, algorithms and data structures.

(fun fact) Calculus was invented by Isaac Newton (at the same time as Leibniz 😉) when he was trying to explain why the planets orbits the way they do at the age of 25.

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