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Double Math and Physics Specialist or not?

  1. Apr 27, 2010 #1
    Hi, I just finished first year at university of Toronto. Next year will be when I select which program I will go into. Right now I can't decide between Physics and Mathematics Double Specialist or Physics Specialist and math major. I'm definitely more into physics than math but I am planning to study theoretical physics in the future. I'm unsure how much math is needed to do theoretical physics. I always hear take as much math a possible. I don't think Math specialist and math major learn very different material but the math specialist courses are VERY rigorous(everything we learn is totally rigorous. Every theorem we learn has been proven and everything has been rigorously defined).

    I heard a lot of reasons not to over work yourself (less effective, less stress, better GPA => possibly better grad school) but I don’t want to take the easy way out. I'm descent at physics but having problems in math.

    To do a Double specialist I will be taking the following courses:
    Intro to EM (Griffiths) 0.5 credits
    Intro to QM (Griffiths) 0.5 credits
    Thermal physics (Thermal Physics by D.V. Schroeder) 0.5 credits
    Particles and Waves 0.5 credits
    Second year physics Labs 0.5 credits
    Third year labs (maybe) 0.5 credits
    Advanced ODEs 0.5 credits (Very hard course what I heard)
    Analysis II 1.0 credits (VERY hard course from what I heard. I don’t remember the book title but at the start it says ‘this book is for 4th undergrad or 1 year grad students’ :S)

    To do a Physics Specialist and math major:
    Physics are the same.
    Intro to ODEs (easier version of Advanced ODEs)
    Advanced Calculus (easier version of Analysis II)

    I did good in Analysis I only because of bonus marks, I’m not sure if Analysis II has bonus marks. Algebra has given me a very hard time. I found Specialist math a bit too rigorous for me.

    To sum up: What kind of math is needed to do theoretical physics? And any suggestions on what I should do? Thanks!
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2010 #2
    Hi, Glueball sorry of I'm hijacking your thread but I'm a senior in high school and I'm planning to attend U of T next year. I'm planning to do the specialist in mathematics and physics. I've read some of your posts from last year. I just want to ask you what you think about the university after 1. year? How is it which courses did you take for first year (other than the obvious MAT157 MAT240 and fundamentals of physics)? Can you please get back to me because any info would be great.
  4. Apr 28, 2010 #3
    The program was much more work than I expected. The drop out rate of my classes are insanely high. Like 75% for MAT157... (Also they try to scary you at the start of year by having problem sets that take 25 hours while only worth 0.5% of your mark. It gets a bit easier after a while.) Physics course is pretty regular. In math there's a lot of proofs at the start of the year. I took eco100 (eco105 is the bird course, I didn't know that), Cutting edge of physics as electives.
  5. Apr 28, 2010 #4
    Hey, I'm doing the Physics Specialist here and I just came out of second year. And I was probably in your class as I took MAT247 for fun just this semester with Professor Choi.

    I'd recommend taking MAT257 and MAT267 for second year, and deciding afterwards. Note that you can drop down to MAT237 up until the end of October so you have lots of time to decide whether you want to stick with it or not. Not sure about MAT267--> MAT244, I just know that MAT244 was ridiculously easy. Doing the major is a waste in comparison because you'd have to take MAT246 to fulfill the requirements, that's half a credit gone for no reason.
  6. Apr 28, 2010 #5
    Hi Heresy,

    Do you think this is too much work load? How is MAT257 compare to MAT157?

    The physics workload as increased a lot, I'm not sure if I can survive with the math workload increased as well. (Note: Most of my 1st year time was spent on math.)
  7. Apr 29, 2010 #6
    I took MAT137+MAT237 and not MAT157+MAT257, so I can't personally comment - but the people I have talked to who have taken MAT257 said that it's a lot more difficult than MAT157 (generally true when jumping from single to multi-variable calculus). Professor Rotman was supposedly quite easy on them.
  8. Apr 29, 2010 #7
    Heresy can you comment on your program. I am in grade 12 and I'm considering math/physics or a physics specialist program. Anyways since the physics components are similar your comments would hold for both programs.

    Is the program as bad as people say it is? I mean I've read nasty stuff from people about it. I am up to a challenge (I enjoy it, I'm kindda of a masochist in that regard). But I would really like some comments from people in the program. Also is innis>new a lot?
  9. Apr 30, 2010 #8
    Choice of residence is really subjective, I live at Innis and like it a lot so yeah...

    And every program will have people that say it's nasty... personally I find it very manageable. The hardest course over the first two years (regardless of which program you pick) will probably be the second year multivariable calculus class... none of the physics courses really approach that one when it comes to level of difficulty.

    Math+Physics Joint Specialist vs. Physics Specialist...
    More math in the first one, more physics courses in the second one
    More theoretical in the first one, more lab courses in the second one
    Last edited: Apr 30, 2010
  10. May 31, 2010 #9
    I just finished the first year math/phys specialist gambit, and I'd have to say that it might be hard for you to really weigh your options before experiencing at least one term. I was going for the math/phys double spec at the beginning of the year, and i was really anticipating higher level physics. However, by second term I found that I was loving MAT157, and actually disliking physics!
    I'm still a big physics geek, but I've now chosen the pure math route simply because I acquired a taste for it through my first year. I know a lot of students in my classes that had similar experiences, either heading more towards the physics stream, or towards the math stream.

    I think what's most important for those coming out of high school is to recognize your own likes and dislikes once you're in classes and doing your work in first year. It's hard to get a feel for what university life is going to be like until you're there - things are taught much differently (better for the most part) than you'll be used to, and it will require a bigger commitment than you're probably used to. Whether you're considering a math specialist, physics specialist, or both, I highly recommend taking MAT157, MAT240, and PHY151 from the start (the 'harder' ones), as these are all required/recommended for both streams. If you find that you are having serious difficulties in any of them, UofT allows you to drop down to the 'lower' courses which are less theoretically-driven. That being said, you will no-doubt have difficulties with some topics in most, if not all of your classes. This is normal, things won't always be easy.
    What I can say for sure is that the physics courses will require more work from you. Between the problem sets, labs, and tutorials, you'll be pretty busy. MAT157 and 240 were pretty chills, with only a few thought-inducing questions due each week. I can't say anything too accurate about the 'lower' courses, besides that it seems they require less rigor but way more output.

    One issue with trying to take the requirements for both a math and a physics specialist is that, although its possible, its not very practical. There are lots of very interesting 3rd/4th year courses in both subjects, and in trying to make the requirements you will not have any room for anything besides your distribution credits. This means you'll be missing out on a lot of important optional courses, and that you won't have room for the independent research/lab courses that are crucial for getting into grad school. You'll have a spiffy title by the end of four years, but not a very good depth of knowledge in your subject. Keep your options open by taking the 1st year prereqs needed for all the higher level courses, but at some point, after some experience in your courses, you're going to want to go over the calendar and draw up a sketch of the areas you want to focus on.

    I don't think the program is 'as bad as they say', although I haven't heard the bad things that 'they' have been saying. Mind you, my opinion may be subject to change after I take my MAT257 beating next year :biggrin:. Just be sure to keep on top of your classes so you can accurately judge which subject areas you like best. As for the colleges, I'd agree that your choice is subjective. I don't know much about residence since I live off campus, but they all offer good extra-curric. opportunities if you want to get involved with campus life.
  11. Jun 1, 2010 #10
    Thanx for your input Riemannliness, I was kindda thinking along your lines, but I do want to take some advanced math courses, because I find math interesting and enjoyable. I also love physics (spent 3 years preparing for IphO, never made it though, but got some good National results), so its kind of balanced between those 2 programs.

    Anyways thanx for your input and a question are you going to take any advanced physics courses next year?
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