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Applied Math and Physics?

  1. Oct 24, 2014 #1
    Hi I am currently in high school (sophmore) and am interested in doing applied maths and physics. I am currently on Calc III and Vibrations and Waves, I will get to Diff Eqs, Linear Algebra, and Quantum Mechanics next semester. The projected classes I will have completed by graduation are:

    All the elementary math classes before calc
    Calc I, II, III
    Diff Eqs
    Linear Algebra
    Analysis I, II
    Real Analysis
    Abstract Algebra

    Classical Mechanics
    E & M
    Vibrations and Waves
    Quantum Mechanics I, II, III

    My question is would it be too much to major in applied math and physics and obtain a major in both and would it be recommended to go to graduate school for both?
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 24, 2014 #2
    You can get a 4.0 doing both, people do it all the time. Nobody technically goes to graduate school doing both as far as I know, but if you get a PhD in the applied math department studying solutions to the wave equation, you're "doing both" in a sense, or if you get a PhD in physics working on more efficient solvent models/algorithms for solving the Poison-Boltzmann equation in soft matter simulations, you're clearly doing both.
  4. Oct 24, 2014 #3
    Well, a PhD in mathematical physics is essentially both. Not that many people do it.
  5. Oct 25, 2014 #4
    I think most mathematical physicists are mathematicians who work on mathematics that spins out of physics, which is a very different field.

    If you are an applied mathematician working on fluid mechanics, you're very different from a mathematical physicist and more like an actual physicist, assuming you're working on fluid mechanics simulation packages and not, say, attempting to prove things about the Navier Stokes equation solution smoothness.
  6. Oct 25, 2014 #5
    Some mathematical physicists have PhDs in math. Others specifically have a PhD in mathematical physics, as in, that is the name of their degree. A program like that will usually require a ton of physics graduate classes and a ton of math classes. Here's an example:

    "Basic preparation should include courses in advanced calculus, linear algebra, modern algebra, complex variables, classical mechanics, electromagnetism, quantum mechanics, modern physics, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. Knowledge of the following fields is desirable: real analysis, differential equations, probability, topology, differential geometry, and functional analysis."

    So, those are people who go to grad school to more or less do both, with the priority actually being on physics, if you notice how it's worded. Again, not very many people do it, but it is possible.
  7. Oct 26, 2014 #6
    What would a mathematical physicist do as a living that would be different that just a mathematician or just a physicist?
  8. Oct 26, 2014 #7
    A mathematical physicist could be either a mathematician or a physicist. A few manage to do both at a high level, but very few these days. You shouldn't take the term mathematical physicist very seriously. It could be just another word for physicist or just another word for mathematician, depending on who you're talking about.
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