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Courses which I should prioritise

  1. Jun 15, 2015 #1
    Hi, I am an undergraduate double major in Physics and Computer Science, and am hoping to continue with Physics in my graduate school.

    At this juncture in my undergraduate life, I have begun to be bored of the Computer Science courses, because I find no relevant use for them in my future graduate school studies. As such, I am hoping if you could suggest which of the following courses might be important for physicists in theoretical condensed matter physics and particle physics so that I study them well:

    Automata and Computability
    Artificial Engineering
    Computer Networking
    Computer Graphics
    Software Engineering
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 15, 2015 #2


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    Depends on what you want to do in grad school.

    Unless your grad work is going to be heavily oriented towards computers then these all seem to be hard to pick a better or worse. If your grad work will be computer oriented, then the specific research topic would be a good guide.

    They do seem to have quite a bit of possible market appeal in industrial settings. Again, depending on the area you might want to work in.

    Artificial engineering? As opposed to the natural engineering that you find running around loose in the woods? I'm guessing that should be artificial intelligence.
  4. Jun 15, 2015 #3
    I may not know what I'm talking about here, but it seems software engineering would have the greatest applications in non-computer science STEM fields. It never hurts to get better at designing software.
  5. Jun 15, 2015 #4
    If you're bored with computer science, why choose it as a major?

    To answer your question, it really depends on what you enjoy. If you like the theoretical aspects of computer science then take the course on computability. If you wish to further your programming skills, take computer networking. If it's a good course you should get a lot of practice in socket programming and multi-threading.

    A course in software engineering is usually a waste of time. It tends to be a high level course taught by an instructor who has no industry experience, though this is not true in all cases. You will generally spend a good deal of time learning about different development methodologies ("waterfall" and "agile" being the most widely discussed), gathering requirements, prototyping, refactoring, testing, and other related topics. There will probably be a small group project toward the end of the course so that you can try putting these concepts to practice.

    My point is that the material presented in a software engineering course is generally irrelevant to anyone that does not wish to work as a professional software developer. Even then, it's of dubious value to an undergraduate.
    Last edited: Jun 15, 2015
  6. Jun 16, 2015 #5
    Exactly my point. I've taken this course in this semester, and I'm bored out of my mind. I see no use learning PHP and MySQL in my graduate school physics curriculum.

    Even then, I have to end up taking all those CSE courses, because I've only taken half of the CSE courses toward my major. :frown:
  7. Jun 16, 2015 #6
    Maybe you should change you CS major into a minor.
  8. Jun 16, 2015 #7
    Yes, I've now decided to switch my major to a minor.

    I won't have to do any other CS courses. But, I'll end up taking the following Physics courses:

    Numerical Methods
    Fluid Mechanics
    Nuclear Physics
    Reactor Physics
    Plasma and Astrophysics
    One elective: Group Theory

    These courses are compulsory for my physics program, but still they're better than immersing myself in CS courses.
  9. Jun 16, 2015 #8


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    The numerical methods will "keep your toe in the water" on the computing side of things. And pretty much all of those subjects will potentially make use of a variety of computer methods.

    So it is not so much an abrupt break and more of a re-emphasis.

    It's an interesting combination of subjects. Soon to be a brand new astrophysicist among us.:smile:
  10. Jun 16, 2015 #9
    Well, I could only wish these Physics courses were taught in the proper way at the university. For one thing, none of those courses would involve any computational methods whatsoever. :frown:

    Regardless, my interests are in theoretical particle physics, so I am prepping myself in quantum field theory, general relativity through self-study.

    Can you recommend a few programs in Canada which are good for theoretical particle physics and which international students like myself have a shot at being admitted to?
  11. Jun 16, 2015 #10


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    what is artificial engineering?

    Automata and Computability might be useful, and possibly computer networking depending on what you do in your field.
  12. Jun 16, 2015 #11
    That's how I feel. I swear, if my university offered even half of those classes I'd be a happy camper!
  13. Jun 17, 2015 #12
    Well, those are compulsory courses at my university. I feel that they should be made into electives, because a working physicist can get away without a proper knowledge of any of those courses.
  14. Jun 17, 2015 #13
    Those are compulsory courses for physics majors?
  15. Jun 17, 2015 #14
    Then why not just drop the computer science major and just continue with physics? Aren't you able to drop a major?
  16. Jun 18, 2015 #15
    Yes, those are compulsory !!!
  17. Jun 18, 2015 #16
    Yes, that's what I've decided to do. I've decided to drop the CS major and just graduate with a Physics degree.
  18. Jun 18, 2015 #17
    Seems like you took the best decision!
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