Difference Between Mathematician & Computer Scientist

Mathematicians use number theory and computation to analyze and solve problems. Computer scientists design languages to program computers to complete data analysis jobs. For both professions, mathematics and computers are essential tools.

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Comparing Mathematicians to Computer Scientists

Both computer scientists and mathematicians use algorithms and models to analyze data. Computer scientists use them to perform specific tasks on a computer or to increase the computer's efficiency. Mathematicians on the other hand, use algorithms and models to research mathematical theories and develop proofs to explain newly understood mathematical relationships.

Job Title Minimum Education Required Median Salary (2016)* Job Growth (2014-2024)*
Mathematician Master's degree $105,810 21%
Computer Scientist Doctorate or professional degree $111,840 11% (computer and information research scientists)

Source: *U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics

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Responsibilities of a Mathematician vs. a Computer Scientist

A mathematician has many job skills similar to a computer scientist. They both use deductive reasoning and computers to crunch numbers and analyze data. The mathematician may develop new statistical tools while a computer scientist develops new computer languages. Mathematicians may apply theories to specific business problems while the computer scientist develops new software to complete the job. Computer scientists can specialize on hardware architecture or software programs while mathematicians often use theoretical and applied skills together in their work. Both professions work in offices and the federal government is the largest employer of these specialists.


Mathematicians may work with engineers, scientists, and business or industry groups to apply theoretical principles to work sector problems. However, mathematicians may also be teachers and researchers working on purely theoretical relationships in geometry and algebra. Regardless of the type of problem, mathematicians are skilled at computation and numerical analysis. Applications of these skills include encryption, aeronautics, financial markets, and medical fields.

Job responsibilities of a mathematician include:

  • Developing models to illustrate relationships between variables
  • Writing professional papers and presenting them to peers
  • Applying mathematical theories to real world problems
  • Creating new ways to solve mathematical problems

Computer Scientist

Computer scientists may work with businesses to design ways to collect and analyze consumer data. They may work with engineers on ways to design robots to do specific jobs or they may work with the government to organize and secure sensitive information. Computer scientists are more than just programmers, they actually build computer platforms and improve the languages that programmers use. They often work on projects in groups and are often considered the project manager because they develop the project objectives and assign tasks to other group members. Computer scientists are also employed to monitor and evaluate computer systems and then design ways to improve the system.

Job responsibilities of a computer scientist include:

  • Meeting with clients to assess computer needs
  • Using mathematical models and algorithms to solve problems
  • Adapting existing computer technologies to meet client needs
  • Designing computer software and establishing performance goals

Related Careers

Other jobs that require mathematical skill include biostatisticians and electrical engineers. Statistics is an applied form of mathematics and biostatisticians analyze medical data. Electrical engineers have a job similar to computer scientists because they need to be familiar with computer technologies before designing their power supply.

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