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Programs CS minor vs. Math minor

  1. Dec 22, 2016 #1
    Hello PF,
    I have posted lately about this problem I am facing of choosing between the two minors as a physics major, but there is some updates and I need new insight on the subject.
    I have been taking an introductory course in computer science that I am really enjoying and getting some good grades in it (I got an 80 where the class average was 45), even better than my major courses on physics. As for the math I am stuck with a C in Calc. 3.
    I need to know what minor would help me more in graduate work and in what specific field is one better than the other. Also as I am way better at CS than math is it logical to take the CS minor because I would do great in it, or take the math minor so I can reinforce myself?
    If you can suggest other approaches please tell me.
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 28, 2016 #2
    Thanks for the thread! This is an automated courtesy bump. Sorry you aren't generating responses at the moment. Do you have any further information, come to any new conclusions or is it possible to reword the post? The more details the better.
  4. Dec 28, 2016 #3
    Thank you Greg-bot for the bump. I had meant to reply actually.

    This is really oversimplified and possibly wrong, but if you are planning on graduate school you will really want to make sure your math is solid. If not, it may be beneficial (and honestly more enjoyable for you) to take more CS classes and have some of those skills under your belt.

    Also, if you're struggling in math, taking more sounds like punishment! Might be better to get a grasp on the math you have to take first before thinking about a minor.

    -Dave K
  5. Dec 28, 2016 #4
    No I am not that bad at it but it was my first semester and everything was a little harsh and different, I did end up with a 92 on my final and an 81 average over the whole course. I am searching only for what would be better for me in graduate studies. Following your advice I shall go for the math option. Thank you.
  6. Dec 28, 2016 #5
    Nice job on wrapping up the semester! Do what you think is best of course.

    -Dave K
  7. Jan 2, 2017 #6
    In an ideal world, you would want to do both minors. Haha.

    But, from a practical point of view, you might want to think about what kind of physics you see yourself doing in graduate school. If you want to do string theory, phenomenology or theoretical condensed matter, then I suppose a math minor is better. But then, the amount of math you need for string theory or theoretical condensed matter far exceeds what you'll have in a math minor. We're talking graduate level math courses here.

    If you want to do astrophysics, experimental particle physics or theoretical nuclear physics, then programming skills are important. In that case, you would want to do a CS minor.

    If I were you, I would not worry too much about which minor to choose. For one thing, any good undergraduate programmes in physics has compulsory maths courses and at least one programming course. Also, you're still a freshman (or perhaps a sophomore) and what you will eventually end up studying in graduate school ( and even if you will go graduate school) is a long way into the future. People change and they change their interests. So, I guess you can't really know for certain now what you will eventually end up studying in graduate school.

    The important thing is to get good grades, regarmless of which minor you do, and to do research work every summer. That's what really counts.
  8. Jan 2, 2017 #7

    Stephen Tashi

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    It would help advisors if you state your university's requirements for each minor. The requirements for a minor can vary greatly between different schools.

    One way to approach the decision is to look at the most disagreeable required courses in each of the minors - which, of course, is a matter of personal preference.

    For example a CS minor might (or might not require) theoretical courses like "Analysis of Algorithms", "Compiler Design". It might require web oriented studies like courses emphasizing XML, Java etc. It might require demonstrating proficiency in employable skills such as SQL or programs specific to MS-Windows, such as Excel.

    The math minor might require some very abstract math like Real Analysis, Topology, Measure Theory. It might require only topics that have reasonably concrete applications like Linear Algebra, Differential Equations, and Calculus of Variations.

    Topics that combine computation with math such as Numerical Analysis might be offered by the math department or the physics department - or you might have to take them in the Engineering School, if your university has one.
  9. Jan 4, 2017 #8
    For the math minor :
    _Calc. 3 *
    _differnetial equations *
    _linear algebra
    _introduction to analysis
    And 2 courses of my choice

    For the CS minor :
    _introduction to programming *
    _discrete structures
    _intermediate programing with data structures
    _algorithms and data structures
    And 2 course of my choice

    * : already required for the physics major.

    Also I have these physics course that I must take :
    _ Mathematical methods for physics:
    Vector analysis, tensors, linear operators, Eigenvalue problems, determinants and matrices ...
    _Computational Physics:
    Basics of numerical analysis ...
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