Hi! Help me decide my courses for next semester, please? (3rd year Honors Physics, in


by mangoman
Tags: advice, courses, suggestions
mangoman
mangoman is offline
#1
Dec24-12, 12:07 AM
P: 5
Hello!

As the title suggests, I am in a dilemma in trying to decide on my courses for next semester in my 3rd year in an undergraduate Physics program. As of right now my 2nd semester looks like this:

-Quantum Mechanics
-Thermal Physics
-Numerical Analysis
-3rd year Physics Lab

That's 4/5 courses. I am trying to figure out what to take for my 5th course. The 3 candidates are:

-Optimization (a 3rd year applied mathematics course, covers the following material: linear programming, formulating, simplex method, duality theory,sensitivity analysis, nonlinear optimization, unconstrained/constrained optimization, quadratic programming, discrete optimization, applications.),

Electromagnetism II (4th year EM, basically covering chapters 8-12 of Griffiths)

Stellar Astrophysics (another 4th year physics course, material seems interesting. Main interest in taking this one is that there is a computational project(s), and I feel improving my numerical programming skills will be beneficial to me)

Now, I most likely will be aiming to go to gradschool for some sub discipline of Engineering / Physics. Or maybe even Finance (as I'm told apparently many students of Physics go into). Not sure yet.... But I've clued in that Numerical Programming skills are probably very beneficial for either of the mentioned paths so, although I've listed 3 candidates, my top 2 are actually 'Optimization' and 'Stellar Astrophysics', but I still have some consideration for EMII, as it is useful for many other reasons.

Also, it may be hard for you to tell, but it seems to me that my next semester will be very busy (numerical analysis & lab course will be time sinks I imagine). Any idea which of the three courses I mentioned wouldn't overwhelm me too much with my already crazy course load? (I understand this is something hard to gauge for you because we go to likely different universities and so differences in curriculum exist etc... but perhaps SOME input based on experience with similar courses would help! )

Anyway, Thanks if you've read all this! I appreciate it :)! Hopefully you can help me! Even if only a little, any input is great!

Thanks! :)
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rhythm42
rhythm42 is offline
#2
Dec24-12, 12:25 AM
P: 5
Personally I would go for stellar astrophysics. Not because it's the most practical, but because like quantum physics, the lack of being able to really comprehend the large scale (quantum being the opposite, as you very well know) will keep your mind occupied for hours outside of course content. You can't lay in the grass, look up into the night sky and wonder about optimization, lol.

It sounds like you have a lot of veggies on your plate this semester, Astrophysics can be your brain dessert.
mangoman
mangoman is offline
#3
Dec25-12, 12:41 AM
P: 5
@rhythm42
Thanks for the reply. Didn't think of it in that perspective! I'll certainly consider that

mangoman
mangoman is offline
#4
Dec28-12, 11:23 AM
P: 5

Hi! Help me decide my courses for next semester, please? (3rd year Honors Physics, in


bump?
Jorriss
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#5
Dec28-12, 11:30 AM
P: 1,025
Stellar Astrophysics is a good choice if it interests you.

I personally would take E&M though. It's just too useful for me to pass up.

I did not take astrophysics or E&M, but I can't imagine either is easy. I have studied Griffiths though and I do not think it would be overwhelming if you were comfortable with the first semester.
ZombieFeynman
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#6
Dec28-12, 12:55 PM
PF Gold
P: 235
To put it in perspective, a bachelors in physics is really not the best preparation for finance anyway. Optimization wont change this very much. If you really do end up in finance, you can probably teach yourself what you need.

You are probably in a physics program because you enjoy learning about the quantitative laws of nature. With this in mind, stellar astrophysics or EM is the way to go. I never took an astrophysics course, but I imagine its fun. I did take just such an EM course in my 3rd year spring. I highly suggest doing the same.
mangoman
mangoman is offline
#7
Dec30-12, 08:25 PM
P: 5
thanks for the replies!
@Jorriss
I agree with you. However I can always take EM II next year but astrophysics is offered only every 2-3 years or something like that.

@ZombieFeynman
Thanks for that perspective, I guess I could just teach myself what I needed. But surely optimization must be very useful for Physics/Engineering in research right? (or then again, not as big of a factor as I might be thinking...)

Also that's the thing, I am in a physics program because I like physics but I'm not entirely sure I want to just do physics after my undergrad. I want to keep other options open (like i mentioned, engineering & finance, among other things) and hence my dilemma here. I'm afraid that if i focus too much on physics courses that it wouldn't make me 'appealing' to other fields... Hence my inclusion of optimizations as a candidate because that is applicable to many fields, not just physics...
Doc2626
Doc2626 is offline
#8
Dec30-12, 09:11 PM
P: 2
Personally, I think I'd opt for the EM course. While optimization may be of some use to you, I think you'll find EM probably blends better with your other courses, while also strengthening your engineering base, should you decide to go in that direction later.
Good luck, whichever way you go!
ZombieFeynman
ZombieFeynman is offline
#9
Dec31-12, 12:08 AM
PF Gold
P: 235
Quote Quote by mangoman View Post
@ZombieFeynman
Thanks for that perspective, I guess I could just teach myself what I needed. But surely optimization must be very useful for Physics/Engineering in research right? (or then again, not as big of a factor as I might be thinking...)

Also that's the thing, I am in a physics program because I like physics but I'm not entirely sure I want to just do physics after my undergrad. I want to keep other options open (like i mentioned, engineering & finance, among other things) and hence my dilemma here. I'm afraid that if i focus too much on physics courses that it wouldn't make me 'appealing' to other fields... Hence my inclusion of optimizations as a candidate because that is applicable to many fields, not just physics...
It sounds like you just plain want to take Optimization. If that's the case, go ahead, it probably is pretty interesting.

But with your stated primary goals (physics/engineering) I think some of the topics in those chapters of Griffiths (especially optics and radiation theory) will be more valuable. And certainly if you do plan on going into finance, something like a finance or economics course might be of more value than optimization.


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