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A few questions concerning very specific programs

  1. Aug 11, 2011 #1
    Hi,

    I would like to study one of Physics or Applied Maths at uni. While I do enjoy maths, I don't think I would like to get too deep into it and would rather much be using it as a tool to do other things.

    So, at the local university, here's the choices of undergrad programs that I have. (besides Physics, which is very straightforward and I have no questions to ask about it)

    1) http://www.uom.ac.mu/programmes/Courses/FOS/YR2011/undergraduate/PDF/SC320.pdf" [Broken]
    2) http://www.uom.ac.mu/programmes/Courses/FOS/YR2011/undergraduate/PDF/SCE321.pdf" [Broken]
    3) http://www.uom.ac.mu/programmes/Courses/FSSH/YR2011/undergraduate/pdf/SH303.pdf" [Broken]
    4) http://www.uom.ac.mu/programmes/Courses/FSSH/YR2011/undergraduate/PDF/SH306.pdf" [Broken]

    I get to choose 4 courses to apply to and then list them in order of preference. I can or cannot get in, depending on my achieved grades and those of the rest of the applicant pool.

    My concerns are as follows:

    1) With the electives on offer for the maths degree (just scroll down the page and you'll see what each semester will look like and the choice of elective module for that semester), how applied can things get? On a scale of 1-10, with respect to say, MIT's offering the applied maths track for their maths BS or any other reference point you want, just mention what it is, so I can take a look at it.

    I *think* a statistics and computer science concentration is what I'd like best. My other option would be doing the university's straight-up stats with computer science course...oh wait, I can't do that any more - they cancelled the course because of the insane drop out rate. Apparently.

    2) What do you think of options 3 & 4? Personally, I'm not so certain about the level of maths I'm going to be learning in there and everything else (economics), while being seemingly interesting, is basically stuff that I could be learning elsewhere in my free time. I think it's too specialised and if by the end of my bachelor's degree I want to go to grad school, things might get a bit complicated. :s
     
    Last edited by a moderator: May 5, 2017
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 11, 2011 #2
    Ok, I'll elaborate on this a bit more.

    I want to do a course I like. When I come out of the program, I want to be qualified-enough to be doing a number-crunching kind of job. I don't care in what specific niche sub-field it is. I'd be content as long as I'm doing something rigorous enough, maths-wise.

    With the above in mind, is this specific maths program (link above), suited to what I'm looking for? From what I understand, going down the "pure mathematics" route isn't the wisest of choices, so can that specific program be tailored to be "applied" enough?

    How does the *content* of that maths course and its w/Comp Sci variant, compare with MIT's Applied Maths and Maths w/Comp Sci courses?

    Note: I have actually read through the course descriptions myself but that isn't to say that I understand everything that's going on. So, while something called "Time Series Analysis" and something else called "Stochastic Calculus" sound interesting and applied enough (read a bit on wiki), I really have no clue how much more useful these things would actually turn out to be. That's why I made this thread.

    THANK YOU.

    Edit:

    Check out the Econometrics course. Scroll waaaay down. Or just CTRL+F for "model". All that stuff: binomial logit and probit models, the Black-Derman-Toy-Binomial model and what not, are these things I could just easily be learning on my own if I were to have done a straight up Physics or Maths degree?
     
    Last edited: Aug 11, 2011
  4. Aug 11, 2011 #3

    micromass

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    It is my opinion that you'll be better off with a math degree. Things like time-series analysis and stochastics are quite easy once you have developped some mathematical maturity.
    Furthermore, with mathematics, you have a many options: economics, modelling, computer science, etc.

    I had a look at the programs, and I feel that if you take the correct electives, then the program should certainly be applied enough! Certainly if you take a minor in economy or such a thing.
     
  5. Aug 11, 2011 #4
    I see.

    Well, page-4 shows all the electives I will be allowed to take. I tried asking a few students and apparently there isn't much flexibility. Let's say, that during my second semester (first year), I don't want to take Mechanics II, can I take Computer Programming II with the second year students? From what I understand, stuff like that isn't possible, which makes things a little complicated.
    On the other hand:
    I am allowed a maximum of 48 credits/year and in the first year, I have 30 credits that form part of the core. I'm assuming the remaining credits should be coming from somewhere! Anyway, I hope things aren't as rigid as they seem and I get to do that.

    Again, from what I understand, doing a minor in economics isn't possible. I know two lecturers there though (one in the maths department and the other in management), so asking them directly might be better. In any event, basic economics shouldn't be too hard to learn on my own.
     
  6. Aug 11, 2011 #5

    micromass

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    Hmm, if the program isn't that flexible, then that might be a problem. I must admit that the econometrics program looks pretty solid as well, but it's not something that you can't learn on your own.

    It is my feeling that the mathematics is the hardest part of quantitative finance. I say this because at my university we had a joint master of it in which both economy as math students could enter. The math students breezed through the courses, while the economy students struggled. I don't know why that is, but I feel that a mathematics education does give enough options to use later.

    It would be very sad if you couldn't do an economics minor or something similar. It really would greatly enhance your possibilities. Certainly research this!
     
  7. Aug 11, 2011 #6
    Thank you for all of your input.

    I too think maths might leave me with more options for post-grad study. I also mailed two lecturers in the stats department and enquired about their stats program and whether I might get a minor in that or something. I'm hoping I can do either that or get a few courses from the econometrics course.

    Which university is that?
     
  8. Aug 11, 2011 #7

    micromass

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    Indeed, sounds like a good plan.
    If you want to do stats, then it is always better to do so in the math department. Business stats seems like a nice program, but it'll be deeper and clearer in the math department, I assure you.

    The university of Brussels in Belgium :smile:
     
  9. Aug 12, 2011 #8
    I have a teacher who actually studied that specific stats program at the university. He told me that while his program had the rigour he sought from it, it was taught by the Stats faculty, which in turn, was in the Social Studies & Humanities department. His maths courses, like Analysis, were taught by the Maths department. He's of the opinion that generally, mathematicians have a more mechanical way of doing statistics while statisticians, on the other hand, have more of a flair for it. Would you agree with that?
     
  10. Aug 12, 2011 #9

    micromass

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    Hmm, I don't know if I agree with that. What does he mean with "mechanical" anyway?
    Mathematicians are very rigorous about everything, but you shouldn't mistake that for being mechanical. On the other hand, rigor sometimes prevents you from seeing things intuitively. So it can very much be that non-math people have more intuition about the subject (intuition which can be wrong however)
     
  11. Aug 12, 2011 #10
    I guess what he meant was "here, that's the equation you have to use. here's your "data". plug it into this equation and you'll find the answer you're looking for". Something along the lines of that.

    Intuition can be wrong, yeah. There was a discussion on the forums here actually about that, with respect to physics! Was an enjoyable read. :)
     
  12. Aug 12, 2011 #11

    micromass

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    Oh, no, I don't have that impression at all!! Mathematicians really look for why something is true. They don't just plug in things.

    However, to see why something is true in statistics, one usually needs to have quite some mathematical background. So a first course in statistics will very likely be plugging in. But the more advanced mathematical statistics courses will really be very deep and not mechanical at all!!
     
  13. Aug 12, 2011 #12
    Well, that was the kind of idea I had.

    I think I should've been more clearer though. He wasn't referring to mathematics graduates as a whole, but just those who teach high school stats. (sorry 'bout that - tired tonight)
     
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