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Other Confused between Physics and Computer Science

  1. Sep 8, 2016 #1
    Hello! I am a first year student studying Physics. I chose Physics because I really like it.

    But now that my classes have started, Physics seems a little more demanding than what I previously had in mind.

    I am also keenly interested in Computer Science. So, I can't decide between the two right now.

    It would be great if any members can help me out with it. (If possible, please share your experience, daily life etc. as a physicist or as a software engineer, IT professional etc.)
     
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  3. Sep 8, 2016 #2

    ChrisVer

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    Every start is a difficult one... if you put more effort at the beginning it will become better with time. As long as "I really like it" is there, I guess you can overcome the obstacles. Generally I consider every natural science or maths is like that...

    What did you have in mind?

    I am not familiar with Computer Science studies... but I know that they also don't have a relaxing weekend :DD at least, a friend who studied it would spend several nights awake trying to finish projects. I had become her second best friend, overthrown by coffee...
     
  4. Sep 8, 2016 #3

    QuantumQuest

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    The whole thing, really boils down to what you really want to do and be willing to spend your time and efforts on it.

    As a software developer, I can assure you that this is demanding too. Maybe in different ways compared to Physics, but it is nonetheless. Spending countless hours in designing, planning, developing, testing and maintaining software, is not an easy thing to do. You must really like it, to do it correctly and not quit the whole thing at some time. You definitely have to learn to think in specific ways i.e "think like a programmer". For me, web development and Java world are my main things, but I work with other languages too, especially C and its "family" in the broad sense. I really like Physics too, but I'm mostly self taught in higher theoretical concepts. And no doubt, it is way more demanding regarding intellectual efforts but this is the different way I previously talked about but anyway, being a good theoretical physicist, is not something achievable for anyone. Being a good developer or software engineer goes in similar fashion albeit in its own way.

    My advice is to think about what you're really interested at, to give some reading and searching the net and make up your mind about what to follow later.
     
  5. Sep 8, 2016 #4
    Yeah I get that. I am interested in both. Apart from Physics being more demanding, I am also starting to feel that a job in Physics is difficult to get and the lifestyle is not that good as compared to someone in software. ( I can't tell this for sure but this seems to be the general consensus).
     
  6. Sep 8, 2016 #5
    I appreciate your advice. I would like to now more about how your lifestyle compares to someone in Physics academia. (Workload, pay, what's a typical day like?)
     
  7. Sep 8, 2016 #6

    ChrisVer

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    One important thing is it's not like you can't jump to Computer Sciences from physics. Physics is not only string theories and abstract maths... Also it's not really like that every physicist will be a theoretician (not that they do nothing with computers!)... being able to work with applied sciences and so computers is a very important part of our jobs (whether you want to work in academia or leave it).

    Now the job opportunities when leaving are pretty much the same as everyone else... even as a computer scientist, when you will look at job adverts you will find out that companies ask for extremely specialized requirements that you are not supposed to learn at any college or anything- they ask for what they dream to get and not what they'll actually get- so in general you play with your rest "pros" (like having worked in the past etc). So you play on the same board as a physicist who can show that he is capable of learning.

    As for lifestyle it is a subjective thing (and regional as well)... Physicists and computer scientists may not have a fixed working schedule (but I like it) or may have ups and downs with and without works. For example there are programmers who were working for companies (in order to survive) and also achieved to live by donations from people who liked their applications... Academia or working as an IT for a multicorporational company can give you the opportunity to travel around (which I also like), but this can affect your plans of having a family. Money again depends on where you work, for whom you work and your abilities.
     
    Last edited: Sep 8, 2016
  8. Sep 8, 2016 #7

    QuantumQuest

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    Things have dramatically change due to economic crisis in my country, for the last seven years or so and this has been a snowball to jobs and especially the IT related. So, workload and pay, have taken an almost free fall. Anyway, what matters to you, is what will all these be in your country. And recalling from what the things were, as long as the "good times" were rolling, there were enough workload and a typical day had coding and testing for software applications already running at some companies and new projects showing often enough. About 12 hours at average were spent on these activities every day. As for lifestyle, this is adapted to job needs but it is good in my opinion.
     
  9. Sep 8, 2016 #8

    MarneMath

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    Well, you don't have to decide anytime soon. It's rather feasible for you to double major while in college in both of these fields (although it may be stressful). Nevertheless, the more important questions is what to do you want to do for a living? What type of problems interest you the most? These questions are probably hard to answer for you now, but my advice is to attend a lot of lectures/seminars in both fields and see which ones get you most excited. I think you'll probably fine that even if you like both, that one will motivate you more.

    Secondly, get an internship and research experience. See which one interest you the most and what environment makes you feel most at home. For me personally, I never felt comfortable in labs or writing academic papers. On the other hand, I feel rather confident standing in front of a board of executives selling my ideas for a higher a budget. Other people are the reserve, but the key fact is that you can't really tell until you experience it and you can't know what you like until you know what's out there.
     
  10. Sep 8, 2016 #9

    ChrisVer

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    Coming from Greece, I can tell you that a physicist cannot find a job there as a physicist (except for being a teacher).
    In any case, the income is pretty low (for everything).
    So the only way out is for searching for alternatives (A phase that the whole world is going through)... where you have to be able to do more than 1 jobs in your lifetime.
     
  11. Sep 8, 2016 #10

    StatGuy2000

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    As an aside, I think it would be fair to say that the Greek economy is in shambles and that the majority of the population now live essentially in poverty, with unemployment in the double-digits, and likely to remain so for decades to come. And many educated Greeks are emigrating in droves.

    QuantumQuest, ChrisVer, are my statements above accurate?
     
  12. Sep 8, 2016 #11
    It's different here in India. You have to declare your major before the start of the course(it's a 3-year program). Things like double-major are rare and offered in selected universities.
     
  13. Sep 8, 2016 #12

    StatGuy2000

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    Yashbhatt, here's a question for you. How easily can you change your major subject in your university in India? You stated that you are a first year physics student. My understanding is that Indian universities rely heavily on entrance examinations to be guaranteed placement, and once in, a student chooses his/her major and must complete that major no matter what.

    Also, do you have any opportunities to take elective courses? For example, even if you graduate with a physics degree, do you have options to take extensive courses in computer science, so that you could pursue graduate programs in computer science?
     
  14. Sep 8, 2016 #13

    ChrisVer

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    Well, I just want to remain realistic and on my occupation (physics related jobs)... the only jobs being on becoming a teacher and stuff was true even before the crisis hit... Computer sciences may be different (they might have received a strike from the whole situation)... The alternatives (as a physicist) are to do something on economics and logistics (so you could find a job in a bank or something) and maybe at a hospital (for radiations and stuff)... all these of course are very competitive since positions are limited and not so physics-related... paid-research [like phd] is almost absent (phd students will most likely be working for free or have very low funding from a scholarship), something that is also true elsewhere (like UK), and research positions are limited around closed circles. So for me, emigration was in my plans since the golden era o0) (not to say that I don't like doing research harbored on a stable land, but I like changes)
     
  15. Sep 8, 2016 #14

    QuantumQuest

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    I agree. This is more or less the situation. Sad thing is that I see no sign of recovery and no investments entering the country - "how can something like this happen in such conditions?" every reasonable person would ask. There's no point for educated people to seek jobs here anymore. I don't know how long it will last, but it's definitely a tough thing for all of us.
     
  16. Sep 9, 2016 #15
    Taking it up as an elective isn't that rewarding. They just teach you some basics of C, Java etc. for a year or so.

    Changing majors is ridiculously difficult in between. Most universities including mine don't allow it. I would have to drop a year to change my course.
     
  17. Sep 9, 2016 #16

    StatGuy2000

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    Sounds to me that the Indian university system is very inflexible. I was going to advise you to take as many technical electives as possible (e.g. computer science, mathematics, etc.) so that you will have the option of pursuing computer science as a graduate degree.

    Does your university not have academic counselors that can advise you of your concerns? Have you spoken to anyone within your department about your concerns about employability? That would be the best advice any of us can give.
     
  18. Sep 9, 2016 #17
    No. I doubt if the university has academic counselors.

    I am not as much worried about employability as I am about the kind of job I would be doing. I don't want a stagnant, boring worklife.
     
  19. Sep 9, 2016 #18

    StatGuy2000

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    Then where do students at your university go if they have specific questions about their program or their field of study? I doubt that even in a society like India would have no support whatsoever for their students .

    A stagnant, boring work life has very little to do with your academic degree and has much more to do with the specific employer and the particular job at said employer. You can have either physics or computer science graduates who have either a stagnant work life or a stimulating, fulfilling work life.
     
  20. Sep 9, 2016 #19
    Okay. I shall I see if I can get transferred to some university where I can double major in Physics and Computer Science. But I will have to probably wait for a year then.

    Although, this might be subjective, I feel that getting employed at a decent place and doing interesting work is much easier in case of Computer Science. What are your thoughts on this?
     
  21. Sep 11, 2016 #20

    ChrisVer

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    subjective to the place

    extremely subjective- what is interesting? and what is boring?
    Put me in front of a table of mirrors and lasers and I will get bored in half an hour....within an hour I'll be laughing of unneasiness and boredom... and then I'll start crying because the laughter didn't help me out...

    I don't know, how do you think it works out?
    1. you get a degree and you are placed to some working environment without your consent?
    2. you get a degree, major to something of your choice and then keep working on it, or on something similar...
    the 2nd is most of the times the case - you decide for your job...so you decide whether what you're doing is driving you crazy-bored or if it's fulfilling your needs.

    I disagree...I agree with the comment above: you can have both compscis and physicists having both types of jobs..
     
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