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Choosing a specialisation

  1. May 13, 2012 #1
    Hi friends, I am a new member here. I have a bit of a dilemma here, so I thought it would be best to ask your advice on this. Thanks in advance for all your inputs.

    So, the problem is I have to pick one specialisation area in my UG, either Theoretical Physics or Theoretical CS. I am really confused between the two. I am a math major and I can confidently say that I am fairly good at it. I have taken courses in Abstract Algebra, Analysis, Topology, Probability & ODE.

    The problem is, I am neither interested in CS nor Physics. I am planning to take graduate level Math & Stat courses, so, I would like to know which is harder - Physics or Theoretical CS?

    Although I don't like Physics to the point that I want to do PhD in it, I do like Applied Math. Some say that Theoretical CS is Applied Math, but, all I see is recreational math problems that I encountered in Olympiad. Moreover, I would chooce Theoretical CS ONLY IF it is significantly easier than Physics, otherwise I would go with Physics - if they both require same level of work.

    P.S: Don't get pissed off with my question, I am well aware that these things vary, but, please give me a general advice on which is a GPA-killer!
  2. jcsd
  3. May 15, 2012 #2

    To paraphrase: Generally speaking, which is the GPA-killer - Physics or Theoretical CS (Automata Theory, Algorithms, Theoretical Concepts of Progrmming Languages)?
  4. May 16, 2012 #3


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    Why don't you look up the syllabus for each class, or ask others who have taken the class, to try to determine the workload?
  5. May 16, 2012 #4
    I have no idea about Theoretical CS, but, a quick glance at it made me realise that it's sort of Abstract Algebra (not contextually, but, in the abstract sense), so I kinda understand how difficult it is, but, I'm clueless when I compare it with Physics, hence I'm here.

    There are other points to consider, for instance if I choose TCS I can go for internship whereas for Physics I can't. But, it's really difficult for me to choose. I would appreciate if someone shed some light on this, anything at all would be great!
  6. May 16, 2012 #5


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    The more information/context you give us, the better we may be able to help. You could give separate arguments for/against each choice.
  7. May 16, 2012 #6
    I apologise for that!

    Well I have come up with some points here...


    Pros -
    1. I can possibly attend one or two internships (one research based).
    2. I heard people say that TCS will improve ones ability with proofs (but, I am quite confident about my skills with proofs, since I am a pure math major).

    Con - I am just not interested in this at all, not a bit. (NOTE: But, I don't want to rule this out because of this, if it is considerably easier than Physics, I would by all means take it).


    Pros - I am not interested in doing a PhD in Physics, BUT I LOVE Applied Math.
    Con - There are no other benefits of learning physics for me other than that I will be enjoying solving applied-math problems and developing the *common sense*.

    1. How difficult is it as compared to TCS GPA wise?
    2. Also, I am planning to take PhD level Math & Statistics courses, so, I also would like to know if it's manageable to do this alongside with Physics courses or it'd be easier to take the PhD courses alongside with TCS courses?
    3. How easy (or difficult) Physics courses are to someone who is not passionate about *Learning the concepts deeply*. Most of the senior students at my place are highly passionate about physics graduate school, so, their advice doesn't suit me well.

    NOTE: Even if i take Physics specialisation I would still be taking 2 - 3 programming courses.
  8. May 16, 2012 #7
    What I did in my undergrad specialization, was to pick what I liked the most. This happened to be the most difficult specialization in my faculty, but because I liked it I got very good grades in most of its courses, so I wouldn't really worry about your GPA. Given that you put "I LOVE APPLIED MATH" in one of the pros, I think you have chosen already :smile:

    One think you might want to consider apart from this, is that CS might generally give you better employment opportunities than physics.
  9. May 16, 2012 #8
    If you love applied math and have no interested at all in computer science, then you should do physics.
  10. May 16, 2012 #9
    Assuming you’re as good at math as I understand you to state, I doubt either path will kill your GPA. What do you want to do after college and graduate school with your degrees? Have you researched careers? The degree is a parchment symbolizing your educational achievement, but it's only a step in a very long life of work. I would look at what I wanted to do for the rest of my life, and figure out which route will best get me there.
  11. May 18, 2012 #10
    Thanks micromass, meldraft and thinktoday(i like ur screen name). I think I will go with Physics finally. Thanks a lot again!
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