Can programming skills benefit a future career in physics?

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In summary, if you want to study physics after the army, taking a programming course might be a good idea.
  • #1
daniel_i_l
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Hi, a few months ago i posted about learning math during the army (in israel). Now the army has offered me a position in a programming unit but the catch is that i have to sign for another year (total of 4). is the extra year worth it if the alternatives are either 3 years in an "action" unit or 3 years of mind-numbing paper work?
if i wanted to eventually work as a programmer then the former would be the obvious choice but i want to study physics after the army.
-if I'm either a programmer or a paperworker i can finish a degree in math and/or half a degree in physics during the army.
What do you think?
Thanks
 
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  • #2
Well if you don't want to become a programmer then why go an extra year doing somthing you don't like to do? I do think programming skills will come in handy in any field of physics though, so maybe it would be worth it.

I knew a kid from Israel who now is also in the army but this kid told me they taught him all the math before he left high school. He knew all the way up to diff eq and was an insane programmer, was he just advanced or do they do that in israel?
 
  • #3
Programming won't just come in handy for physics--it will be an absolute necessity. That is, if you're planning on graduate-level physics work or any professional or industrial jobs in physics.

Those with strong backgrounds in programming have a huge advantage when they start research. Data collection and analysis is all done on computers. Computer models are the first line of defense for tackling a new idea. Why do a difficult calculation when you can set up a program to take care of it while you're off at lunch? Experimentalist or theorist, you'll definitely reap the rewards of learning programming soon.

Trust me. I was one of the unfortunate types who didn't take the opportunity to learn early. I'd say it's now the biggest time-waster I face doing research. Boy, do I write inelegant code! But the good news is that it's pretty easy, really. Especially the stuff you need for physics. So if you don't learn it now, you can pick it up later--but at the cost of wasted research time.
 
  • #4
I think people missed the point of the question here...

Personally, I think I'd rather spend four years programming than three years doing paperwork or being shot at even if I would *never* program again in my life, but maybe that's just me.
 
  • #5
). is the extra year worth it if the alternatives are either 3 years in an "action" unit or 3 years of mind-numbing paper work?
if i wanted to eventually work as a programmer then the former would be the obvious choice but i want to study physics after the army.
-if I'm either a programmer or a paperworker i can finish a degree in math and/or half a degree in physics during the army.
What do you think?

So its either mind numbing paper work or getting shot in the face, i'd rather do paper work. Or are your choices programming, paperwork or "action"
 
  • #6
I would do anything that would prevent me from being shot in the face. Unless it's a shotgun of chron.
 
  • #7
Hi daniel_i_l,

I have my MSC in physics and now I work as a software developer (not because I am not good enough to do something in physics... at least I hope so... but because of the opportunities in my country)... Anyway, I suggest you to pick up that programming course, because if you want to study physics, it`d mean an awesome lot of help to you to have skills in programming. However, programming solutions needed by physics problems are usually not easy. Don`t think of some matrix-multiplier short-code here, but hard-core, well written code, e.g. in QM or such fields. If you have decent programming skills, have your mind directed to be able to think as an algorithm-minded programmer, you would be able to write programs at a higher level then what is usual among physicists... I say this by experiment, not just speaking into the air...
 

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