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Hyperreality Apr30-04 12:42 AM

What isMathematical Physics
 
Is mathematical physics the study of phsics that is focused on the mathematics? If it is, would it give me a disadvantage in the field theoretical physics for choosing mathematical physics instead of mathematics in the future?

MathematicalPhysicist Apr30-04 03:48 AM

Quote:

Quote by Hyperreality
Is mathematical physics the study of phsics that is focused on the mathematics? If it is, would it give me a disadvantage in the field theoretical physics for choosing mathematical physics instead of mathematics in the future?

for me mathematical physics is synonymous to theoretical physics.

matt grime Apr30-04 03:54 AM

Mathematical physics is the use and study of objects such as (Derived/Triangulated) Categories, (Projective) Geometry, ALgebra (Quantum Groups, Hopf Algebras etc) to study physics, usually on the Quantum Level (ie not solid state, engineering stuff, or, as far as I've seen, relativistic stuff). You need to be comfortable with at least the notion of a category and defining objects by commutative diagrams, and not being scared of proper (algebraic) geometry such as sheaves over some curve. However, it really is a shifting definition and next year the emphasis could have changed. Look at the papers of Baez, Dolan, Orlov, Lusztig et al to see how it's practised.

HallsofIvy Apr30-04 06:26 AM

Precisely what "mathematical physics" is varies from one person (in the field) to another. It sounds to me like you are considering majoring in or entering a program in "Mathematical Physics". I would recommend that you ask people in that particular program.

jack47 Apr30-04 06:26 AM

According to the bit of paper I was sent from the University, I have a degree in mathematical physics. It just meant I did 50/50 Maths/Physics subjects and didnt do any practical work

moshek Apr30-04 09:31 AM

Mathematics and physic are two word in English. There real connection can come only and only from some knowledge about biology.

Moshek

www.physicsforums.com/showthread.php?t=17243

slyboy Apr30-04 10:55 AM

Mathematical physics is just a word used to describe the study of the more mathematical aspects of physics. It tends to study the same sort of areas as theoretical physics, but there is usually a much greater emphasis on mathematical rigour. It also tends to be practised in math departments rather than physics departments, although there are serveral exceptions to this rule.

A mathematical physicist is likely to choose problems to work on based on mathematical elegance rather than physical meaning. They tend to work within established theories, often cleaning up the mess made by the lack of rigour in much of theoretical physics. They might also generalize the mathematical formalism beyond what is required to describe the physical world. They are not often concerned with experiments and so are unlikely to work on the phenomenology of a theory. As an example, von Neuman could be considered to be the first mathematical physicist due to his approach to quantum mechanics, work on quantum logic and development of von Neuman algebras.

On the other hand, theoretical physicists are usually more inclined towards new physical concepts and ideas that go beyond established physical phenomena or theories. They tend to rely on physical intuition a lot more in order to figure out how the world works. Phenomenology is an important part of theoretical physics and most theorists hope that their discoveries will be experimentally verified at some point in the future. For example, Einstein was clearly a theoretical physicist rather than a mathematical physicist.

Having said that, there is no clear dividing line between mathematical and theoretical physics and you will find people working in both the ways I have described in maths and physics departments. Collaboration between the two groups is common and often very fruitful. Many people who build their careers in these fields have done so by hopping between mathematics and physics departments and there is no real obstacle to doing this. For example, I did physics as an undergrad, mathematics for my PhD and now I am back to a physics department for a postdoc.

moshek Apr30-04 11:53 AM

Slyboy:
You describe your attitude very good. Now since you wrote about Einstein let me ask you and what the opposite direction of studding about mathematics just from physics? ( the real world)

Moshek

quartodeciman Apr30-04 05:01 PM

Here are some clues from two journals, one print and one electronic.

from American Institute of Physics - about American Journal of Mathematical Physics --->
http://jmp.aip.org/jmp/staff.jsp

Focus and Coverage

Journal of Mathematical Physics is published monthly by the American Institute of Physics. Its purpose is the publication of papers in mathematical physics – that is, the application of mathematics to problems in physics and the development of mathematical methods suitable for such applications and for the formulation of physical theories. The mathematics should be written in a manner that is understandable to theoretical physicists. Occasionally, reviews of mathematical subjects relevant to physics and special issues combining papers on a topic of current interest may be published.

Journal of Mathematical Physics welcomes original research of the highest quality in all active areas of mathematical physics, including the following:

Classical Mechanics
Conformal Field Theory
Dynamical Systems
Electromagnetic Theory (mathematical aspects)
Ergodic Theory
Fluid Mechanics (Navier–Stokes equations, models of turbulence)
Gauge Field Theory
General Relativity
Gravitation Theory (classical and quantum)
KAM Theory (stability and chaos)
Kinetic Theory
Many-Body Theory
Mathematical Methods in Condensed Matter Physics
Methods in Mathematical Physics
Nonlinear Partial Differential Equations in Mathematical Physics
Percolation Models
Quantum Chaos
Quantum Computing
Quantum Field Theory (algebraic and constructive)
Quantum Mechanics
Renormalization
Scattering Theory (classical and quantum)
Schrödinger Equation (mathematical properties)
Semiclassical Analysis
Spectral Theory
Statistical Mechanics (equilibrium and nonequilibrium)
String and Brane Theory
Symmetries
Symplectic Dynamics
Supersymmetry

from Mathematical Physics Electronic Journal --->
http://www.ma.utexas.edu/mpej/

"The research subjects will be primarily on Mathematical Physics; but this should not be interpreted as a limitation, as the editors feel that essentially all subjects of Mathematics and Physics are in principle relevant to Mathematical Physics"

(some MPEJ editorial board specialties)

Celestial mechanics
Cellular automata
Classical mechanics
Computer-assisted proofs
C*-algebras
Dynamical systems
Ergodic theory
Interacting particle systems
K-theory
KAM theory
Mathematical problems in solid state physics
Noncommutative geometry
Nonlinear elliptic equations
Nonlinear differential difference equations
Nonlinear partial differential equations
Nonlinear waves
Perturbation theory for Ordinary Differential Equations
Quantum field theory
Quantum mechanics
Schrodinger operators
Statistical mechanics
Stochastic processes

[EDIT]small correction to first list

matt grime Apr30-04 06:12 PM

C* alg, non-com geometry, and K-theory are the more fashionable of those at the moment (Connes thinks they are the way forward, and who are we to argue?).

moshek May1-04 10:04 AM

Matt:

Do you know how A.connes
end his lecture at the conference "100 to Hilbert"
during August 2000 in U.C.L.A university?


Moshek

slyboy May4-04 02:21 PM

Moshek,

I don't understand your question.

Quote:

You describe your attitude very good. Now since you wrote about Einstein let me ask you and what the opposite direction of studding about mathematics just from physics? ( the real world)

MathematicalPhysicist May5-04 06:19 AM

Quote:

Quote by moshek
Matt:

Do you know how A.connes
end his lecture at the conference "100 to Hilbert"
during August 2000 in U.C.L.A university?


Moshek

did he lecture about non commutative geometry in this conference?
if yes perhaps he showed an example of non commutivaty.

Njorl May5-04 09:58 AM

Most grad programs in physics have a set of core course that you need to pass. Usually, these include

Classical mechanics
Quantum mechanics
Statistical mechanics
Electromagnetic fields
Math methods (often called math physics, or mathematical methods of theorectical physics etc)

While you learn a lot of math just getting the basics of the other courses, there are still a lot of things you need to learn. Math methods spans a lot of different subjects of physics and math to round out your set of tools. The one thing that really sticks with me about my math methods course is the calculus of residues. I remember feeling like I learned a magic trick when I learned that. I was so excited I wanted to show my friends. That reminds me. I lost a lot of friends back then.

Njorl

Hyperreality May25-04 03:07 AM

Sorry guys. My computer caught a virus for the past few weeks, so I haven't been able to reply..

About a week ago, I read an article by an ex-Stanford Physics professor. He mentioned the joke

What is the difference between mathematical physics and theoretical physics?

Theoretical physicis are done by physicists who lack the necessary skills to do experiments, and mathematical physics are done by mathematicians who lack the necessary skills to do real mathematics.

Quite amusing...

MathematicalPhysicist May25-04 06:57 AM

Quote:

Quote by Hyperreality
Sorry guys. My computer caught a virus for the past few weeks, so I haven't been able to reply..

About a week ago, I read an article by an ex-Stanford Physics professor. He mentioned the joke

What is the difference between mathematical physics and theoretical physics?

Theoretical physicis are done by physicists who lack the necessary skills to do experiments, and mathematical physics are done by mathematicians who lack the necessary skills to do real mathematics.

Quite amusing...

this joke is a paraphrase of a joke which was given by freedman (he has some solutions of einstein equations) he used with physicists mathematicians and meterologists.

skowalcz May25-04 07:36 AM

So what does Freedman say exactly in his joke?

Nice discussion! I'll have to choose within a month or so which master I'll start next year.
I still don't know for sure.. math phys. :uhh: th. phys.

MathematicalPhysicist May26-04 08:35 AM

Quote:

Quote by skowalcz
So what does Freedman say exactly in his joke?

Nice discussion! I'll have to choose within a month or so which master I'll start next year.
I still don't know for sure.. math phys. :uhh: th. phys.

"bad mathematicians become physicists, and bad physicists become meterologists."


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