1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Cs+math or cs+physics?

  1. Oct 5, 2006 #1
    After this semester, I will have to make a permanant decision. Which combination has more potential? With computer science and physics would I have a chance at going into electrical engineering? But then if I wanted to go into cryptography or information science, would either combo be ok? Ignore the fact that I probably have no chance of grad school for this question.
  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 5, 2006 #2
    If you want to go into EE, why don't you just major in it? The best combo depends entirely on what YOU want to do with your life. Tell us those goals and we can help you accordingly.
  4. Oct 5, 2006 #3


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    One guy in my dep't is majoring in CS and physics. I don't really get that. Most people do CS & math--they are a lot closer subjects. I think that physics & math are both more likely to be self enrichment than career-oriented subjects, unless you go to grad school or study statistics.
  5. Oct 5, 2006 #4
    What are your goals, exactly?

    If it's just EE, then obviously go EE... or physics if you can't get into the EE department.
  6. Oct 5, 2006 #5
    I don't think so. Computer Science would not really help you that much at the hardware level, only the software (I think the closest you will get to a hardware would be learning how operating systems work). Physics will help you somewhat to get you towards electrical engineering but it would only help you conceptually.

    I know that you are trying to get something that closely bounds electrical engineering from both sides but I think you should choose closer bounds. How about computer engineering or applied physics or optical engineering?
  7. Oct 5, 2006 #6
    Well see I've been taking courses for cs, math, and physics for a few years. I've sort of struggled to pin down exactly what I what to do. I'm a junior now, and all I do know is that I'm majoring in CS plus something else. The school that I'm at does not have EE, and it's a little late to transfer. I think with physics and computer science, I would be more rounded than just a physics major or just a cs major. It really bothers me how many physics majors there are that have never had any programming experience or used a unix based OS, and the number of cs majors that have almost no courses or background in physical sciences, at least where I'm at.
    Last edited: Oct 5, 2006
  8. Oct 6, 2006 #7
    I'm doing a major in "Physics/Computer Science" which is a special interdisciplinary major, which lets you take the essential classes for both majors without the encumbances of having a double major (which is a lot of work)

    Based on my interactions with physics people here, the general consensus is that knowing computer programming is becoming increasingly essential for anyone in physics, even the theorists (String theorists, for example, make heavy use of computational solutions to equations too complex to solve analytically)

    Doing physics and computer science won't automatically imply that you can do EE, though. EE is a whole different thing altogether. It's probably good to make sure you have the requisite math background, and strong background in E&M and as much solid state physics as possible. On the CS side, algorithms, robotics, and digital logic. And, as much EE as your school offers, like circuits.
  9. Oct 6, 2006 #8
    I know that physics and computer science wouldn't imply EE. I'd be missing alot of hardware aspects and probably more.
  10. Oct 6, 2006 #9
    simple CS/MATH/PHYS...i don't see how you will major in physics without math.(math is a blend between thte too)
  11. Oct 6, 2006 #10
    I've had a year of vector calculus, linear algebra, two semesters of ordinary differential equations, a semester of partial differential equations. I'm 2-3 courses away from the applied math BS. But if I did major in math, I'd rather have the pure math degree.

    I think I might just minor in physics and finish with cs and math. With that I would want to take computing theory, cryptography, probability theory, modern algebra, real analysis, maybe some numerical analysis. Yeah that sounds more interesting than physics (electrodynamics, analytic mechanics, quantum mechancis, plus labs) for some reason.
  12. Oct 6, 2006 #11
    "pure math" / "applied math" whats the difference? ...I suggest taking analytic mechanics...it is both fun and useful to you as a compsci/math major. Electrodynamics would probably be useful...if you can find a course on
    N-body simulations or Dynamical systems/Bifurcation theory/chaos or if your math or physics dept offers it FLUID mechanics.
  13. Oct 6, 2006 #12
    Majoring in CS and Math here is pretty easy, all you have to do is take 2, 400 level stat classes, and take some CSE electives that are math intensive like:

    So your getting ur CSE electives taken care of as well as your math minor requirements if you choose your courses right.

    I also agree, with CS you are missing alot of hardware aspects. If you want programming and hardware, I would recommend CE as the others said. You do plently of both.

    Also everyone down here uses Linux and can program, who is in physics/engineering. Its a must now adays, thats why i'm iffy about doing Computer Science because programming isn't so unique anymore, everyone does it just at different degrees.
  14. Oct 6, 2006 #13
    Yeah but keep in mind computer science isn't about programming. It goes with the experience though.

    So you're school offers a dual degree in math/cs? I'm not actually get a "dual degree", I'm earning BS's in both, both on their own. So I'm probably taking a little more courses than you might be. I don't know that of course.

    The applied math requires mostly just differential equations, vector calc, linear algebra plus real analysis. The other degree requires that you take alot of the same courses, but also modern algebra and either number theory or linear transformations.

    As far as rest of the physics I'll take, I'll probably stick to thermodynamics and electrodynamics. I'm really trying not to overload myself with too many hours a semester, which has killed me in the past since I'm not exactly the best student.
    Last edited: Oct 6, 2006
  15. Oct 7, 2006 #14
    Its not so much a dual degree, its just a very easy minor to pick up because alot of upper level math courses are also related to computer science. (here anyways)
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook