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Courses C.S. minor vs. Math minor

  1. Nov 9, 2016 #1
    Hello PF,
    Tomorrow is the registration for my spring semster and it is time for me to choose what i wsnt as a minor to start taking the courses. I asked my adviser and he told me that C.S. is a good minor for physics, without any clear reason. Now i do not trust this man very well, and nor does anyone in the department (he is kind of weird ...). But then I happened to pass by one of the most respected proffesors in the deparment ( he is a mathematical physicist ) and i told him about my ambitions toward theoretical physics, so he said that a math minor is way more usefull. Most of my friends advise me with the C.S. path but I like the math one a little bit more.
    Any advice ?
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 9, 2016 #2
    I was a math + physics major, and a CS minor. My recommendation is to take a math minor.

    As a physics major, you will likely only be a couple (maybe 1 or 2) courses away from having a math minor anyway. As far as a CS minor, I think you'll find that it's far more beneficial to your goals to pick and choose particular CS courses you want to take. I took two courses which did not count towards my minor - object-oriented programming (e.g., Java) and one in hardware/software concepts (working with Raspberry Pi's, Arduinos, etc.), both of which I found extremely useful. But as my minor, I also had to take courses that were exact replicas of the corresponding computational physics course ("structured problem solving", etc.). So maybe the pick-and-choose technique might be better for CS courses.
  4. Nov 9, 2016 #3
    I always liked math more. And also i have already took a CS course as a requirement for the degree and it has a lot of material for an introduction ( in this week's assignment we are to make a lying robot-not a physical one, only software-that flashes different colors of light when it reaches some place). I think this will give me what i want for now in terms of computer science. But i would like to leanr about differential geometry and topology and thats why i am going for the minor.
  5. Nov 11, 2016 #4
    Math will be good for theoretical physics; but you'll need to model this theory anyway, and for that you'll need experience in programming. Depending on your school, there may be physics/math classes that cover what you need.
    Me, I'll be getting a math minor but I've been taking CS courses when I can. Right now I'm in a graduate CS course - Advanced Scientific Computing - and I'm working with a theoretical physics professor for the course project, in my case I chose to do one modeling superconductivity.

    In particular, I found "Data Structures and Algorithms" at my school a useful course. I also took the CS equivalent of Discrete Mathematics, which covered a lot of topics and helped my mathematical maturity.
    Next semester I'm taking Numerical ODEs and then a bunch of physics classes. But learning data structures, algorithms, and parallel computing will be tremendously useful for me in the future, since I want to model condensed matter theory.
  6. Nov 11, 2016 #5
    I am already taking a CS course right now which is an introduction using java. It has been very good as it had a lot of material(now we actually build a "robot" on a grid that moves with commands and we introduced error in its movement). Also we have another requirement for the degree which is computational physics that focuses on the scientific applications of programming.
  7. Nov 11, 2016 #6
    I took an Intro to CS class too. It was good, but I recommend taking a couple more if you can. My school has two computational physics courses (lower level and upper level) that we have to take.
    Still, if you're going into theoretical stuff the applied math courses will be useful. Honestly, I stopped worrying about minors and just took all the classes I wanted. It just so happens that I'm getting a math minor because I took plenty of math courses, but I'll probably be taking an extra 3-4 CS courses beyond what was required.
  8. Nov 11, 2016 #7


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    EDIT: I had to correct what I said, here, adding the NOT.

    How so? You need NOT say so on the forum, but is the advisor weird in some particular way that disqualifies him from giving valuable advice, or does he give logically unreliable advice? Has he insight and experiences which make his advice practical and useful for you?

    In case the relation between Physics and Computer Science is not apparent to you, some of your work either academic or if employed later, may bring forth many data elements which you will want to manage, process, or compute, and you may have so much of it that you will want to create a computer program to do this for you (just a general idea, not necessarily other parts of Computer Science - but "programming").
    Last edited: Nov 11, 2016
  9. Nov 11, 2016 #8
    Well let me explain further:
    In my country people don't give any importance to physics, they think it is a kind of degree for the poeple who cannot go into engineering . So people only go into physics to transfer to engineering. This adviser has kept his position for a long time ( not sure but i think he been here for more than 20 years). But as i mentioned, he only gives advice on how to go into engineering and medical school through physics, he describes the physucs degree as a 1 year window where every students jumps out after the first year. And he also has the worse teaching reputation in the department, he teaches you 70% politics 20% religion and 10% physics. Also he told me that CS was good if i did not like theoretical mathematics.
    And for your second point, I fully understand the importance of programming but i think that i can study it alone in my free time, unlike differential geometry and topology :) .
  10. Nov 11, 2016 #9


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    If you believe jamalkoiyess's response in #8 posting contains details too much of a personal nature about the advisor that the member discusses, make your edits in any way you believe necessary. I origianlly said to member, "you need to say so on the forum..."; but I wrote that wrongly, having omitted the "not".

    Computer Science also involves connecting computational and data processing devices to equipment and measurement instruments.
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