I have a few questions I hope you can help me answer.

First, I'll introduce myself. I'm a finance undergraduate student in Australia, but I'm originally from Norway. Throughout school I always loved math, but I ended up studying finance. The last year or so I have started to realise that I should have done Computer Science or Engineering in stead, as I would like to see myself in a quant role when I finish studying. Even so, I've decided to finish this finance degree.

The last month or so I've started programming in C++, and refreshing up on my maths knowledge (Khan Academy, algebra, precalculus). My problem is I don't know where to go from here, and what order I should be learning the different branches of math.

I've picked up a book on linear algebra today; "Linear algebra and its applications" by Gilbert Strang. Do you think this is an alright place to start? Or do I start with basic calculus? And where can I go next? Differential equations?

I hope some of you can help me in the right direction. Thanks.


closed as off-topic by user223391, Parcly Taxel, Henrik, Claude Leibovici, tatan Oct 15 '16 at 13:18

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  • $\begingroup$ you can pick some undergraduate course syllabus and recommended books...its going to take real long time to reach ..!!! $\endgroup$ – Rorschach May 24 '13 at 5:47
  • $\begingroup$ take an undergraduate course in Real Analysis or Abstract Algebra! $\endgroup$ – Forever Mozart May 24 '13 at 6:10
  • $\begingroup$ An applied mathematics track will have: algebra, trig, calculus 1,2,3, linear algebra, ordinary differential equations, partial differential equations, programming, numerical analysis, statistics. You may want to consider a graduate degree in financial engineering and they will tell give you a deficiency plan of courses to take to get ready. $\endgroup$ – Maesumi May 24 '13 at 7:10
  • $\begingroup$ I was able to obtain some good advice by looking through the questions with the "self-learning" tag. math.stackexchange.com/questions/tagged/self-learning $\endgroup$ – GovEcon May 24 '13 at 14:29
  • $\begingroup$ Strang is a fine place to begin. He also has his lectures online: youtube.com/course?list=ECE7DDD91010BC51F8 $\endgroup$ – user4536 May 24 '13 at 14:32

I'd recommend you check out the Mathematics section here for free online video courses offered by some of the top institutions.


I answered a similar question recently:

Which topics of mathematics should I study?

However, this might be more on the theoretical side and I'm not sure if that is what you'd like.

Hope this helps.


It is simply because there is not enough space for me to write in comment. So here we go.

As a finance major, there are many potential options for you. What math you should or ought learn really depends on what direction you would want to go in the future. In financial industry(so to speak, altough I don't really feel it is an industry), there are many job scopes heavily rely on mathematics. To name a few,

  • quantitative analysts, a.k.a. quants that many mathematicians end up with.
  • risk analyst, as far as I know, many of my mates doing this kind of work now.
  • programmer, every industry needs programmers, so does finance.

However the math background for those jobs differs from each other. For the first two, you need more 'theoretical knowledge' of math with the specific emphasis on analysis (real analysis, stochastic analysis, modern probability, etc.), but in contrast, the math for programmers leans to numerical analysis and (theoretical) computer science.

To sum up, I want to address here is that to study math in a 'pragmatic' way, it's better to know what direction to go in the first place. However, on the other hand, you would be only benifited from understanding math in the finance field, so why not learn as much as you can.

And in the end I humbly suggest two subjects worth studying thoroughly: analysis and numerics. the fellows on math.SE will offer you many recommendations on study materials and the study procedure. My opinion would be nothing more than redundancy, at best. Unfortunately, I failed to train myself in undergraduate, and now it takes me enormous time to catch up, only referred to analysis.

I wish you good luck with the study of mathematics with notice that finance industry is open to people with different background (engineering, physics, mathematics, ecnomics...).


Many of these answers seem inappropriate since you see yourself in a quant after you graduate. I would suggest that you build your resume towards getting the job you want, and then learn the mathematics necessary for the job that you get after you get it. And for building your resume for a quant job, I would suggest you continue focusing on your programming skills, and also focus on learning statistics. Both of these things look great on a resume.

To learn statistics, you might want to be familiar with integral calculus: it depends on which kind of statistics you are looking at. And as for your programming skills, don't seek out learning mathematics as if it is a prerequisite to programming well. Instead just learn to program and mathematical topics will naturally present themselves to you as you need to know them, and then you learn about them.

In summary, don't worry so much about the prerequisites to what you want to know; just dive in to what you need to learn about, and learn the appropriate math along the way.


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