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Engineers and Theoreticians

  1. Sep 23, 2008 #1
    What irks engineers about theorists and vice versa?

    I mean, to solve DE's for example, a lot of my friends prefer the Laplace Transforms (I'm studying EE), but my mathematics professor's kinda against the L(f) to solve DE's. :tongue2:

    What other quirks have you guys come across?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 23, 2008 #2
    Errrr, what?

    Nothing irk's engineer's about theorists. What an igonrant question.

    I don't understand what your personal story about your math professors has to do with anything. There's good reason why they are against using it. They want you to know how to do it via various methods, and the Laplace transform doesn't work for any old function. So, how are you going to use it for functions that don't have laplace transforms?

    You cant take the laplace transform of exp(x^2), for instance.

    Also, what do engineers care about 'theorists' in the first place?
    Last edited: Sep 23, 2008
  4. Sep 24, 2008 #3
    Engineers and theorists are not necessarily polar opposites. Many engineers work on very theoretical research. The main thing is that the engineers work on theoretical projects that ultimately have some application.

    A better dichotomy would be engineering/applied research vs. pure/fundamental research. The former is focused on research that is suspected to have some practical application, whereas the latter conducts research that may not necessarily have a practical application.

    Or, perhaps another dichotomy is experimental research vs. theoretical research.
  5. Sep 24, 2008 #4
    Thank you. Thats very helpful. And I'm pretty sure you can take the laplace transform of exp(x^2). I could show you how.
  6. Sep 24, 2008 #5

    Please do, by all means. This is exactly why your teachers DONT want you :bugeye: blindly :bugeye: taking the laplace transform and trying to solve diff. equations.

    I really think your question makes no sense. Sorry. I don't even know what you are defining as a 'theorist'.

    All in all, it was a bit harsh of a response - I apologize. But it irks me when students of science ask such questions. You should know better than to post a question like that <tisk, tisk>. It's along the lines of posting, which area of engineering is 'the hardest' to study, - whatever that's supposed to mean. :rolleyes:
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  7. Sep 24, 2008 #6
    Well for those of us that don't live in 1935, we like to use numerical methods instead.

    I understand why this question is asked. I have often had conversations with math friends that think their gonna change the world with topology. :rolleyes: Engineers are more about getting things done and getting them done quickly. This usually means fudging some things or using the common saying "close enough". While fundamental people, or "fundys" need everything perfect and exact no matter what the time or cost.
  8. Sep 24, 2008 #7
    I have many friends who are theoreticians (in physics) and engineers. I'm really sorry to say that, but, as unlikely as it seems, Cyrus is perfectly right on this one, and incredibly good looking. The original question is kind of... ignorant of the real world. There are as many engineers and theoreticians species as they are all single individuals.

    You could have asked what bothers professionals in job A about job B. But that's a different question. For instance, theoreticians might not like to finalize a product to the point where it can be sold, as opposed to just solving a problem (even in principle).

    Time-machine update. I just lost all credibility. :tongue2:
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2008
  9. Sep 24, 2008 #8
    The more you post, the more I love you. Best post you have ever made.
  10. Sep 25, 2008 #9
    Maybe I worded the question wrong. I just thought it a bit funny how these little things get to people. And you're right, you cant take the laplacian of exp(x^2), I misread it. I thought it was exp(-x^2).
  11. Sep 25, 2008 #10


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    Well, there's the whole i vs. j thing concerning imaginary numbers. But it really shouldn't irk anybody. It just seems a little weird if you're used to using i and then read an engineering paper or book where it's ejωt everywhere.

    But after a while you get used to it.
  12. Sep 25, 2008 #11


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    You know, you only have to say that when he's wrong. You can crush him like a bug, but once you tell him he's good looking, he completely forgets whatever came before it.
  13. Sep 25, 2008 #12
    Engineers, in their work, apply the already existing knowledge of scientific theories in order to construct things, in much the same way as computer scientists borrow use mathematical theorems to build computers and ideas from linguistics to construct programming language.

    Generally, what they're doing is not theoretical science but application of science to the real world, and not discovering truths about the natural world like a scientist does.

    I think it's pretty clear the two are distinct and people with an engineering mindset aren't necessarily good scientists.

  14. Sep 25, 2008 #13
    I was theoretically thinking about getting an engineering degree.
  15. Sep 25, 2008 #14


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  16. Sep 25, 2008 #15
    :rofl: I am good looking! say........what were you talking about again? Oh well, I'm going to go back to looking at myself in the mirror. Doot-de-dooo-dooo-doooo.
  17. Sep 26, 2008 #16
    "Almost all engineers working on new designs find that they do not have all the needed information. Most often, they are limited by insufficient scientific knowledge. Thus they study mathematics, physics, chemistry, biology and mechanics. Often they have to add to the sciences relevant to their profession. Thus engineering sciences are born."

    Somehow I always thought engineering was a natural extension to science.
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