How to learn algorithms without maths background?

Hi Zed,

I just finished your More Python book and feel much better about my Python skills now.

I’m a high school dropout who’s been working as a web developer at an agency since 3 years but I want to make more money by joining a bigger company. So, I need to learn algorithms.

The problem is, only your book More Python presented the algorithms without any Math prerequisites. Had a blast with the exercises. I had a look at The Algorithm Design Manual but it’s really hard to work through because of all the equations. I only have basic Algebra skills.

What do you recommend for someone like me?

  • J

I think The Algorithm Design Manual is actually one of the less mathematically challenging textbooks about algorithms.

Maybe skip the chapter about complexity theory and dive right into sorting. You may not need to understand every bit of math in the later chapters so long as you get the gist of the algorithms.

Also, it’s a common saying that computer science is a runaway branch of applied math. It’ll pay off to invest some time into honing your mathematical skills. Just a bit of calculus and the basics of linear algebra should do for a start: if you like programming there’s a fair chance that you’ll even like it! If you’re feeling overwhelmed by it and/or had bad math education early on, I recommend taking a look at How To Solve it by George Polya.


I heard about How To Solve It. I’m gonna grab it and see how it goes.

Definitely looking forward to improving my Maths skills at some point. Thanks!

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