A programmer branching out into other STEM topics

  • #1
gibberingmouther
120
15
so I'm a computer science major about halfway done with my degree (i have an associate's and am waiting to resume school maybe in the fall or spring). i really enjoy learning new physics and math and about electronics (i have a few electronics workbooks that are outdated, but they are still interesting to work through since I'm assuming a transistor is a transistor, for example, though it may be made different ways).

i know I'm not completely wasting my time by self studying physics and higher level calculus because, at least if i end up at penn state i know, i still have to take some basic physics and a calc III course. but could i make it career relevant to self study further than that? i'd just be doing it for fun and because i like getting good at things. will advanced physics help me with becoming a better programmer with a deeper understanding of computer science? or should i just accept that it is a hobby ... again, is there any way i can make my hobby career relevant?
 

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  • #2
Stephen Tashi
Science Advisor
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You can certainly find books on "scientific computation", "numerical analysis", "finite element methods" etc. Whether they are relevant to a future career depends, of course, on whether your future involves writing scientific programs.

The two basic ways to combine programming with math and science are:

1) Study how to use a general purpose programming language (e.g. C, Python, Java) to do scientific computation.

2) Study how to use special purpose languages designed for scientific and engineering calculation ( e.g. Mathematica, Maple, Maxima, PSpice)

In approach 1) you implement the details yourself - and presumably learn the math and science.

In approach 2) you rely on libraries other people have written to do much of the work. This is a good approach if you already understand what the libraries are doing.

If you want to hear the role of computers in math extolled, checkout the opinions of Doron Zeilberger - e.g. http://sites.math.rutgers.edu/~zeilberg/Opinion132.html
 
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