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Choosing my Mathematics major?

  1. Nov 30, 2012 #1
    Well, I'll be going to college soon and I'm currently choosing my major. I know I would like a degree in Mathematics because I've always liked figuring out problems or making things simpler.
    I do need some help though. My college offers two Mathematics majors. I think I'll probably go to Grad School for Applied Physics, but you first have to get your Bachelors in either Mathematics or Mathematics with Computer Science. I'm not sure which to choose. So, I would like everyone's opinion on this. Which one would you choose and why? Thanks :)
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 1, 2012 #2


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    I would choose a Physics major instead of a math major if you intend to go to gradaute school for Physics.
  4. Dec 1, 2012 #3
    I don't plan on becoming a Physicist. I want to get my Degree in Applied Mathematics. (Like I said before.)
  5. Dec 1, 2012 #4


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    Here's your post. Correct me if I'm wrong but you did write you would probably go to grad school for applied physics. Thus my advice, did you mean applied math?
  6. Dec 1, 2012 #5
    If you intend to do go to grad for applied math (and not applied physics), learning some computer science is very helpful and I believe, required in grad school. Much of the applied maths you could do by hand can be made into an algorithm or programmed for a computer to do. Often, applied maths will also use a bit of statistics. Of course, Im only familiar with the undergraduate level pure math curriculum. MarneMath and others should have more accurate opinions.
  7. Dec 2, 2012 #6
    OH! I am so SORRY! I meant to put Applied Math! Sorry about that..I'll fix that XD
  8. Dec 2, 2012 #7
    Well uh..I can't fix it..XD...I'm new to this.. XD
  9. Dec 2, 2012 #8
    Hello ElectricC and I think what you are doing is a fine choice. I'm a math major myself and I could give you a few tips so that you dont end up being in school 2 years longer than you should (what happened to me). I think Applied Math is the most interesting and useful branch of math( hence the name), and it is one of my interests for grad school too.

    Make sure you take Calculus and not the lower -lever freshmen algebra classes that wont count for your major (but take pre-calc if you arent comfortable with going into calculus yet.) If you want to do Applied math in grad school, you will need at least one class in computer programming, and I would encourage you to learn MATLAB, Mathematica, Maple, and the write-up language Latex on your own throughout your college career. These are all very extensively used by mathematicians and Maple is probably the easiest to learn. I'm not sure what your interests are, but you may end up liking computer science more than math.

    Check out some PhD degrees in Computational Science and Engineering, which several schools are offering now. They seem to be a pretty good mix of computer science, math, and a science or engineering track. I know GATech, MIT, and Purdue each have one and I am sure many others do as well.
  10. Dec 2, 2012 #9


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    As a rule, I'm against pigeon-holing myself when I don't need too. In truth, a general mathematics degree will prepare you well for a PhD in Applied Mathematics. I do not recommend doing something like 'math and biostat, math and comp sci, math and something else' unless you have interest in something particular where those two fields intersect.

    So with that said, what about applied mathematics interest you? How do you think a math degree with a focus in computer science will help you on this quest?
  11. Dec 2, 2012 #10
    Like I said before, I've always enjoyed mathematics, solving problems and making things simpler. To be honest, I don't think Computer Science will help me in my career. Though, it is an interesting subject by itself. :)
  12. Dec 2, 2012 #11
    Think again: computer science and programming are extremely useful to applied mathematicians. Whether you're into statistics, differential equations, mathematical modeling, numerical analysis or something else, you will need to be able to program!! If you don't intend to take programming courses, then you should absolutely self-study it. When you're in grad school, your time is limited and you might not want to spend it towards learning programming (and some professors might already expect you to know how to program already!).

    Furthermore, programming are definitely going to help you in your carreer. Whether you become a professional mathematician or something else, the chances you need programming are very high.

    It is certainly the case the computer science is not entirely about programming. Computer science is quite theoretical and deals with other stuff as well. But if you like mathematics, then I'm sure you'll like theoretical computer science as well, so it might be a good and interesting setting for you to learn programming and computers.

    Summary: get a major in mathematics and computer science.
  13. Dec 2, 2012 #12


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    I would agree completely with micromass if and only if you enjoy computer science. Other wise, I would advocate instead just taking relevant programming classes. Otherwise, classes dealing with operating systems, assembly language, computer architecture, are all just going to be needless stress, when all you really wanted to learn is how to program better and run digital simulations.
  14. Dec 2, 2012 #13
    You're right. There is no need to do an entire computer science major. But it really is important that he learn to program. So if he can take programming classes separately, then he should be ok.
  15. Dec 2, 2012 #14


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    The only thing I might add to this is that I stronly suspect that if you look at both programs you are considering, there is a good chance the required courses in your first year are essentially the same. And if they're not, there's a good chance you'll be able to arrange your courses so that you can transfer from one to the other without needing to put in any makeup time.
  16. Dec 4, 2012 #15
  17. Dec 7, 2012 #16


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    Absolutely agree with all the other posters about programming.

    Anything remotely complex will require a computer (and possibly clusters of them or supercomputers to get the job done).

    You won't regret the skill if you want to applied work of any kind in these sorts of fields.
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