Search results

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    Studying How to keep track of the latest results in your field?

    If you subscribe to the arXiv mailing list, you get an email with all of the preprints in a given subfield (for example physics, statistical mechanics) every night. Instructions are here
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    Admissions Being Competitive for Top US Graduate Schools

    I think it is quite important to have two semesters of QM as an undergrad if you are planning to do a PhD in physics. Many students entering PhD programs at top departments have already completed some graduate coursework during undergrad, so that may give you an idea of the high level of...
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    Other Information theory resources

    Elements of information theory by Cover and Thomas is one of the best general texts. Information, physics, and computation by Mezard and Montanari applies ideas from information theory and the physics of disordered systems to computation. I also second David MacKay’s book.
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    "Where’s your second law of thermodynamics now?"

    The second law arises from the statistics of large numbers. While it may be possible to observe configurations of molecules that appear to violate the second law, those configurations are so rare that you will practically never see them in a large system with many particles. You can quantify...
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    Programs Searching for universities to do my PhD on foundations of quantum mechanics

    Several people at Perimeter Institute in Waterloo, Canada work in quantum foundations. The faculty usually take graduate students through the University of Waterloo, and they also have a one year masters program in theoretical physics. It’s quite an interesting place.
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    Other PhD in Engineering - Logistical Questions

    My advice to anyone considering a PhD is that you should do it only if you believe that you will truly enjoy the day to day life of doing research and want to devote a significant portion of your life/make a career doing research (in academia or in industry). Of course there will be days when...
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    Courses Struggling in my First Year of Graduate School

    Try not to be too hard on yourself and just do the best that you can. Usually spending time with your cohort doing homework etc. helps you adjust and feel connected to the community when you begin graduate school, but it is much harder to do this with the current restrictions. I think this year...
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    Courses Looking for advice for learning QFT

    Another good text to learn from is Quantum Field Theory and the Standard Model, although it’s a bit biased toward particle phenomenology. The exercises are very helpful for learning to calculate scattering amplitudes/cross sections
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    Grad school with no Physics GRE but research experience?

    Many programs have made all GRE scores optional or are not accepting scores at all this year due to the pandemic.
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    Physics I love physics, but I want more money and I'm considering a career change

    The starting salary for a quant at a hedge fund can be in the $300,000-$400,000 range not including the bonus. With bonus, you can often make over one million a year within a few years. Many of these hedge funds (DE Shaw for example) have summer internship programs that you can do during the end...
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    Programs Major in Chemistry or Physics?

    Since you like the physics style more, I think the best option may be to major in physics and take whatever chemistry courses interest you or that you feel will be useful.
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    Brownian Motion - "no inertia"

    This is usually called the overdamped limit. In this case γ is large enough so that the velocity equilibrates very rapidly so you can set dv/dt=0 to find the behavior at long times. The joint pdf p(x,v) then factorizes into a stationary Maxwellian distribution for p(v) times a time dependent...
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    Admissions COVID-19 and Physics Graduate Admissions

    I think it’s definitely possible that there will be STEM graduate programs that choose not to admit any students at all next year, especially smaller programs. I have heard of at least one humanities program that has suspended graduate admissions this year. However, the physics programs I am...
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    Admissions COVID-19 and Physics Graduate Admissions

    The situation is still rapidly evolving, but I suspect that many universities may want to admit a smaller class size this year due to uncertainty in funding and also because a significant fraction of the current students may likely take longer to graduate because of the shutdowns. Many people...
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    Job Skills Transitioning to Physics from Neuroscience

    Many faculty working in theoretical biophysics/soft matter are located in applied math departments. A sizable number of them (especially among more senior faculty) switched fields during their career, usually from more well developed areas of physics such as high energy or quantum condensed...
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    Schools Advice on shopping for Physics Graduate Schools

    For me it was basically matching my research interests with faculty and overall prestige. I made a list of people I was interested in working with for all the schools I was considering and used it to decide where to apply. I also wrote about the professors on the list in each personal statement.
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    I Gauge Symmetry

    There are a special class of gauge transformations called large gauge tranformations that act asymptotically (out at infinity). These are different from local gauge transformations which tend to 1 out at infinity and act trivially (annihilate states). Large gauge transformations are physical...
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    Schools How to allocate time/how to prep for grad school

    It would still be worth thinking about it for grad school though, I believe I know people in applied physics programs who can from such backgrounds as undergrad. The reason I mention this is you seem very focused on physics coursework. The strategy you currently describe should actually work...
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    Schools How to allocate time/how to prep for grad school

    It sounds like you may be interested in applied physics. There is a lot of overlap with areas like ME, EE, and MSE.
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    Schools How to allocate time/how to prep for grad school

    Do you want to do a PhD or masters? If you want to do a PhD then the only relevant things are your coursework and research experience. These are both important and you need to be able to efficiently allocate your time to both. A lot of students planning to go to grad school will start research...
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    I Gauge Symmetry

    Gauge symmetry is not a real symmetry. A symmetry acts on one state and takes it to another. A gauge transformation takes a state to the same state. The correct terminology is gauge invariance. The wave function is not a gauge invariant object. It doesn’t have to be because it is not an...
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    Programs Torn between two REUs

    I think it’s good to go somewhere else for a summer just to experience another institution and make new connections. If it goes well you will get another good recommendation letter and you will have an advantage if you apply to grad school at your REU institution. I did this the summer before my...
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    Schools String theory school recommendation: UC Davis, UIUC or other

    You should talk to your professors at your undergrad institution since they probably know or know of many of the professors you would be interested in working for. Another thing to note is that today when people talk about “string theory” as a subfield, they often group it with other topics in...
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    Other Finding a research project

    Usually when a theorist starts research in grad school, their advisor suggests a project to them, which may or may not be that well defined, and then they go do the calculation themselves, asking for advice as needed (the level of involvement of the advisor depends on their style). When a...
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    Schools General education requirements in University- How much is too much?

    I think it would also be beneficial for students in the humanities to be forced to take a class like calc I or intro bio rather than watered down courses, because then they could also have a better appreciation for quantitive disciplines and hence be more well rounded.
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    Schools General education requirements in University- How much is too much?

    From what I have seen STEM students usually will need to take classes that could potentially be used to fulfill humanities/non quantitative major to fulfill core requirements while humanities students can get away with taking watered down sciences courses, which cannot be used to fulfill any...
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    How to get into Harvard, MIT or Princeton from India?

    From what I have heard/seen the IITs are very rigorous schools with brilliant students that will prepare you to do well in whatever you choose to do. They are incredibly difficult to get into, but the admissions process is transparent unlike it is in the U.S. The vast majority of the grad...
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    Admissions Accepted at Caltech - what should I do to be best prepared?

    Since you have a lot more time out of class in college I think it’s good to figure out when and where you are the most productive so you can get into a routine. For some people that’s an evening in the library, for others it’s 3 am in their dorm. You should be flexible in terms of deciding what...
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    Admissions Submitted all of my applications a couple weeks ago

    I started hearing back in late January. Many schools admit in waves. Often what they’ll do is accept the people who are sure admits pretty early (sometime in mid/late January) and then do the rest in waves, sometime sending out rejections in between. Some schools just admit all of the people at...
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    How to get into Harvard, MIT or Princeton from India?

    That is going to be almost impossibly difficult. The students who score in the top ten on that exam are likely future professors at MIT, Harvard etc. But regardless of that, as I mentioned, unlike India and China, US college admissions are not objective at all. Whether or not this is a good...
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    How to get into Harvard, MIT or Princeton from India?

    I would assume a lot of people from India don’t apply because they can’t/don’t think they can afford it. I think I’ve met some international students who were accepted but didn’t go because it was too expensive. Ivy League schools definitely weigh sports if you are good enough to play D1. I...
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    How to get into Harvard, MIT or Princeton from India?

    It’s very, very difficult to get into schools like Harvard, MIT, etc. if you from outside the U.S as they often admit fewer international students. At MIT for example, the acceptance rate for international students is around 1/3 that for domestic students which is already below 10%. There is...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    In regards to the comments about quotas, I think the problem is that the presence (or speculation) of quotas gives the false impression that sexism is not a real problem, when it in fact effects almost every female scientist at some point in her career. They are in many ways a superficial fix to...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    There are some articles, several in Science that show papers with women as first authors get fewer citations, regardless and of the quality of the paper, which is why some women choose to publish with only their initials. There was also a very disturbing study using machine learning to analyze...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    Physics is not an easy path for anyone but in general women face the additionals hurdles along the way. The way to summarize it would be to say that there is a lack of respect for women in STEM (there is also sexual harassment but that’s another issue). There has been a lot of improvement in...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    Regarding the general comments on women in physics, the problem isn’t necessarily about lower percentages of women in the field. I think it’s likely that physics may never reach 50% (I think 30% is a very reasonable number and could definitely happen). The problem is that there are women who...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    My issue with proposals like these in general is that they are superficial attempts to fix a problem that is very complicated. It’s much easier to take the easy route and make superficial changes than actually address the real root of the problem. To do that would require a lot more patience and...
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    Admissions Drop the Physics Requirement to Encourage More Women Engineers?

    The answer is to encourage more women to take physics in high school. By the time they apply to college it’s already too late.
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    Courses The math level of computer scientists and physicists

    I think people need to be very careful when they offhandedly dismiss something as being irrelevant or useless. To be a successful scientist requires one to develop a unique perspective that gives them an advantage when looking at certain problems. Most people are very specialized these days, but...
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    Courses The math level of computer scientists and physicists

    For the more advanced math, you will generally learn it as you need it during physics courses. For example, if you take quantum you will learn some things about group theory (relevant for discussing things like spin or symmetries), if you take general relativity you will learn about different...
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    Admissions Personal Statement for my PhD application

    Your personal statement is supposed to be very matter of fact and to the point. It is not a place to be stylistic and use flowery language. That distracts from the point you are trying to make. My main advice would be to get rid of around 2/3s of the first paragraph and just state that you are...
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    A What are local and non-local operators in QM?

    The exchange term favors electrons of the same spin to be separated and comes directly from the Pauli exclusion principle. This comes from the anticommutation of fermions (i.e. the antisymmetry of the wavefunction). The exchange process is inherently non local since exchanging any two electrons...
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    Physics Physicists (Theorists) who started from Liberal Arts College

    I think talented people from respected liberal arts schools generally do well with grad school admissions. There are certain schools like Reed which are known for sending students to great PhD programs. However, you will have fewer options coursewise than someone from a big research university...
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    Schools Is my grad school list too ambitious?

    I think it should be possible to apply to physics and astronomy departments at most schools. At least two schools on your list actually don’t have separate astronomy departments, the physics department houses both. Also note that the main difference between being in one type of program versus...
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    A Self-Teaching Topological Insulators/Phases/Symmetry

    There are several review papers and also several books. The most widely known book is Topological Insulators and Superconductors by Bernevig and the best reviews can be found under arXiv:1008.202 and 1002.3895. There is also a book Field Theories of Condensed Matter physics which is a general...
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    Programs PhD in USA or Europe?

    Usually what students would do if they wanted to study theoretical particle physics in the UK at a place like Oxford or Cambridge would be to start by doing a masters (part III at Cambridge for example) as their fourth year of undergrad and then go straight to doing a PhD. They don’t need to...
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    Programs PhD after M.Sc.

    At many schools you can either petition or test out of courses. I know a fair number of people (myself included) who did this for several courses.
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    Other Math vs Statistics Degree/Major For Investment Banking

    It depends on what part of investment banking you want to go into. Many students from elite schools go work for investment banks right out of undergrad. A lot of them studied Econ, some in business (at places like MIT or Wharton), some of them may even have studied subjects in the humanities...
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    Other Merging Astrophysics and Computer Science

    Machine learning is very big in physics these days. I hear people talking about it all the time. It has a lot of applications in fields like biophysics and quantum many body physics where you have very complex systems with the many the different components interacting with each other.
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    Physics Thinking of dropping out of PhD program, need advice

    I agree that taking classes related to your subfield is incredibly useful for research. However, there is eventually a point when you need to be able to learn topics by yourself as you need them as a theorist. While I have taken classes that helped in my research, they only helped so far as...