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Computer Science or Physics

  1. Oct 22, 2005 #1
    As a high school Junior this year I need to decide on possible majors and schools to go to. That being said, I've always been quite the computer enthusiast with the ability to learn extremely quick while on a computer. Most people assume that I will go to school for computers and that has given me quite a lot of incentive to persue college and a career in that area. But different types of Physics facinate me more then computers (probably because I've done so much with computers I'm just around them too much) which makes me want to get into physics. My interest is mostly in the area of Astrophysics because the different concepts of deminsions, time and space are incredible.

    What I would like to know is:
    1. What my best bet would be, continue with computers or hault my growth in that area and persue physics?
    2. What are the best colleges and courses?

    Last edited: Oct 23, 2005
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 23, 2005 #2
    Have you ever thought about Computer Engineering?

    Physicists do take some programming classes so, in your shoes, I would study physics(extremely biased opinion). You could work with computers as a hobby or something. You could view some colleges on www.princetonreview.com and http://www.collegeboard.com/

    Best colleges? ehh, that would depend on what your definition of best college is.
  4. Oct 23, 2005 #3


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    What is your long-term goal?
    Why can't you advance in both "computers" and "physics"?
    What is it about "computers" that interests you? Are you interested in the so-called "computer science"? or "computer programming"? or just playing around with technology and gadgets?
    I'd suggest looking over the curricula for "physics" and for "computer science" in a college catalog. Which you would prefer to study?
  5. Oct 23, 2005 #4
    I've had my hand in most areas involving computers; engineering, programming, IT, components; pretty much everything.

    I guess I could pretty easily advance in both but I don't know which I want to pull full focus on and which to be a hobby. Which would provide better job security and advancement do you think?
  6. Oct 23, 2005 #5
    What exactly is computer science? Is it just programming? I really like programming, but wouldn't want to do it for 8 hours a day 5 days a week, stuck in a cubicle. =/

  7. Oct 23, 2005 #6
  8. Oct 23, 2005 #7
    There are lots of schools that are strong in both computer science and physics. You don't have to (and shouldn't) choose what field you want to pursue as a career right now. Keep your options open, take class, see where your interest takes you.

    The "best college" has an extremely subjective answer. You're going to need to give more specifics about what sort of college and experience you're looking for if you want to get meaningful and helpful answers. I did choose my school (Swarthmore College) because I thought it was the "best college" (for me!), but many other reasonable opinions vary.
  9. Oct 23, 2005 #8
    But what factors should be taken into account to find which college is best for me?
  10. Oct 24, 2005 #9


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    I'm a Computer Science and AI undergraduate at a university in the UK (Edinburgh).

    There is no reason for you to not be able to do both. I know for a fact that there's a course at my university called computational physics, which is really a joint degree between computer science and physics.

    No, it isn't just programming. Computer science, at it's most basic, is the study of the algorithm, what is computable and what isn't. Programming does come into computer science, but it is used as a tool like an astronomer uses a telescope.

    There's a separate degree, called Software Engineering, which is more focussed on programming and engineering methodologies as they apply to computer program design. The two degrees do share a lot of common courses in the first years (teaching students how to program is shared between them etc.).

    One consideration the OP may like to make is what sort of maths he likes. Computer scientists generally use more discrete maths, such as graph theory etc. although continuous maths is used a lot in computer vision and areas like that. In my experience, physicists tend to use a lot more calculus than us.

    Both will provide you with job security.

    From a CS perspective, the more maths a computer science course has, the better it is. I'd also stay away from courses which teach todays trendy new language, like .net. These tend to be IT courses masquerading as computer science courses.

    I hope that this has helped (I'm new here).
    Last edited: Oct 24, 2005
  11. Oct 24, 2005 #10
    That was extremely helpful, I'll look into computational physics. Thanks
  12. Oct 24, 2005 #11
    You can do both. I am a computer engineer and now I'm studying physics.
  13. Oct 26, 2005 #12
    Stay away from Computer Science, its not the right thing for either of us haha.
  14. Oct 26, 2005 #13
    true but its always a nice hobby
  15. Oct 26, 2005 #14
    Mike AkA Don, I am from West Chester also. :)

    I go to Henderson HS. Nice to see a fellow member from West Chester on PF!
  16. Oct 27, 2005 #15
    whoa I go to East.. What grade are you in? bhunt goes to East too
  17. Oct 27, 2005 #16
    12. We'll have to chat sometime. :)
  18. Oct 29, 2005 #17


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