I'm interested in Robotics but not very skilled in Maths.

Since I always come across some very intense looking mathematical formulae in robotic reports, books etc I just wonder what branch of Mathematics I should be learning to better understand the material I'm trying to read?

Is there a specific branch of maths relevant to robotics OR do I need expertise across multiple branches of maths?

Is expertise in Maths necessary at all to get into robotics?

Please help.

  • $\begingroup$ Robotics is a wide field. You would better to specify a small domain that you are interested in. $\endgroup$ Apr 9 '18 at 23:19
  • $\begingroup$ Welcome to Robotics sisko, but I'm afraid that Life Questions are off-topic. Questions about choosing how to spend your time may be about difficult decisions, & they are often important, but they are too specific to your own situation & are unlikely to help future visitors to the site. They would be better off asked in Robotics Chat, when you have chat privileges. We prefer practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face, see How to Ask & tour. $\endgroup$
    – N. Staub
    Apr 10 '18 at 14:44

I cannot give you a definite answer since - as C.O.Park said - it depends so much on what you do. From my experience (doing visual SLAM and machine learning) linear algebra is (to a varying degree) an indispensable foundation in many fields like (2d) computer vision, 3d perception, robotic manipulation, path planning, optimization algorithms in machine learning, dimensionality reduction, deep learning, ...

By the way, I found the video lectures on linear algebra from MIT by Gilbert Strang https://ocw.mit.edu/courses/mathematics/18-06-linear-algebra-spring-2010/ very enjoyable. The provided intuitions made many things click for me.

Second, since we are often dealing with probabilistic problems, good knowledge of (multivariate) statistics and probability are required, particularly when you directly or indirectly deal with sensor data.

For optimization problems including most of machine learning, Calculus comes up very often, because you need gradients for optimizations.

In my opinion, you can also get into robotics without rigorous math knowledge, when you focus more on systems. Robots are complex beasts and companies build robots from hardware and software components, so there is a lot of integration work to be done. A high-level overview of robotics, programming skills and maybe system administration knowledge should get you quite far in this field.

Also I am sure there are some fields, where math is not that important. Human-machine-interfacing comes to mind, though I lack the experience in that field.

Again, this is based on personal experience and most probably, there are various fields where these skills may not be relevant at all while other skills are required.

  • 2
    $\begingroup$ I would put linear algebra in bold, it's that important! $\endgroup$
    – Shahbaz
    Apr 10 '18 at 13:42
  • $\begingroup$ @FelEnd: Thank you very much for your answer. I am an experienced software developer going into robotics. The code is less of a problem. Recently, I've been looking at SLAM technologies but I get stuck because there is a lot of mathematical formulae of which I have no foundation. $\endgroup$
    – sisko
    Apr 10 '18 at 14:42

As you mentioned that SLAM is your interest, the following are the courses that you need to understand a modern SLAM algorithm.

Very important courses: Linear Algebra, Optimization, State Estimation, Dynamics, Computer Vision, Random Process

Optional: Lie algebra, Optics, Signal Processing, Pattern Recognition, Nemerical Analysis

But it is not necessary to learn all of the courses above because they contain too many unnecessary things for SLAM (except Linear Algebra). I recommend you take SLAM courses on youtube first.


Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.