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Computational Physics or E+M course

  1. Dec 3, 2013 #1
    Next semester I have a choice to take a computational physics course or E+M 2.

    The materials covered in the computational physics course are:

    applications of scientific computational techniques to solutions of differential equations, matrix methods, and Monte Carlo methods used in physics.

    Materials covered in the E+M 2 course are:
    Maxwell's equations, scalar and vector potentials, electromagnetic plane waves.

    Also the computational class takes a trip to the Netherlands at the end of the semester to complete a project in collaboration with students from the Technical University Delft. I am wondering which class would be a better prep for physics graduate school and also look better on an application.

    Thanks in advance!
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2013 #2


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    I would say the contents of EM 2 sound like mandatory preparation for graduate work.
  4. Dec 3, 2013 #3
    If you don't mind, where do you live? Is that trip to the Netherlands a big trip? That sounds fun.

    That being said, it's a tough call. The material covered in the second semester of EM is considered standard undergraduate material but depending on your research interests the computational class might be more useful ultimately. For the former reason though I would recommend the EM course.
  5. Dec 3, 2013 #4
    I'm at Michigan State University, so it would be a big trip and my first to Europe. The E+M 1 course here covers up to magnetostatics. If that helps
  6. Dec 3, 2013 #5
    Can you take EM2 another semester...? That trip sounds like a ton of fun.
  7. Dec 3, 2013 #6
    unfortunately no. And yea it does! That's why I'm in the dilemma :(
  8. Dec 3, 2013 #7
    Does your school offer independent studies? If so, doing an independent study in either EM II or some computational project is conceivable (though I imagine it may be more challenging to find a professor who is willing to do one for EM II).
  9. Dec 3, 2013 #8


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    It depends on what your going to do in graduate school.
    Learning computational methods is important and having the opportunity to take part in a real project is very good too.
    But also every physics student should know the materials covered in the EM2 course.
    Its a very bad idea making students to choose only one of them because they're both important.
    I think a good suggestion is taking the computational physics course and learning the materials in EM2 course by yourself.Because computational physics is so boring for self-learning and also the trip seems so useful...and fun!
  10. Dec 4, 2013 #9
    I cannot believe you are even having this dilemma! You should not even have the option to evade the E+M course.
  11. Dec 6, 2013 #10
    Hm... This may not help with your situation much by I'd like to add that my university doesn't even offer a second semester of undergrad E&M (well they haven't in the past 5 years).

    With that being said, I'd say go for the computational course. Sounds like a great opportunity!
  12. Dec 6, 2013 #11
    I vote for computational
  13. Dec 7, 2013 #12
    If you are planning to go to graduate school, I would think that not having the material in E&M 2 would really bite you in the butt. Both in terms of admissions and preparation. I can't imagine making it through my grad program without having covered that material.

    On the other hand, depending on what you end up doing, you could learn some useful stuff in the computation course and the trip sounds fun. But again, you can pick up some of that stuff in grad school if you need it.

    So I say E&M if you plan on going to grad school in physics.
  14. Dec 14, 2013 #13
    Physics without Maxwell's Equations is like Amsterdam without bicycles. I wonder of this is Michigan's test for real physicists vs. those who prefer free holidays?
  15. Dec 14, 2013 #14


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    Do both if possible.
  16. Dec 14, 2013 #15


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    Do both if possible.

    What text or texts are used for the Computational Physics course?
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