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A question for mathematicians or current math PhD students

  1. Mar 16, 2017 #1


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    Hi everyone. I wanted to pose this question to those who are currently working as mathematicians (faculty members or postdocs, or those who finished their PhD and are working in industry), or current PhD students in math.

    Did you double major in mathematics and physics in your undergraduate degree? (for those in the US and Canada; some equivalent of combining math and physics for those outside of Canada and the US?)

    If so, did you find that studying physics helped you as a mathematician? Do you think that you are a better mathematician because of your study of physics?

    I welcome any thoughts any of you may wish to share on this matter.
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 16, 2017 #2
    I served on the math faculty of the Air Force Academy for four years even though my BS and PhD are both in Physics. I was a candidate for a Physics faculty position at the same time they hired me to teach math there.

    My background in Physics definitely helped me as a math faculty member. Many math PhDs struggled to design the core math courses to better prepare students for their downstream physics, chemistry, and engineering courses. Since every Air Force Academy cadet takes two semesters each of Physics and Chemistry and seven semesters of Engineering, knowing how the math was used downstream was pretty important.

    I've only published a few papers in math: two in math teaching and two in applied math, so some would doubt my creds as a "mathematician." I have a broad quantitative tool kit that I bring to bear on lots of different kinds of problems. That tool kit was born and grew to maturity earning that BS and PhD in Physics, and was also very useful working as an engineer for 7 years for Cisco Systems.
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