How many of you guys actually like mathematics?

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In summary, almost every physicist goes through a period where they almost become mathematicians. However, this is usually due to a lack of enjoyment in abstract mathematics, and is usually overcome by pursuing research in physics.
  • #1
Neo_Anderson
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How many Physicists here like the mathematics that's behind the physics? Or, do you just tolerate the math, seeing it as a sort of a tool?
Please don't answer unless you're at differential equations and beyond.
 
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  • #2
I like it. I just finished a book about fiber bundles not because I have to, but because I want to understand gauge theories better. I still don't get it, so I'm going to study some more differential geometry, in particular stuff about differential forms and integration on manifolds, and then I'll take another shot at understanding Yang-Mills theory. Then I intend to study functional analysis, so that I can finally learn the mathematics of quantum mechanics. I'm definitely choosing the math topics I need to understand the physics I'm interested in, and it can sometimes be a pain, but most of the time I think it's at least kind of fun.

This post is probably in the wrong forum though.
 
  • #3
I love the math. In fact, the primary reason I pursue the research I am now is BECAUSE of the math used in it (topology, category theory, algebra, and functional analysis mostly). The only reason I'm not a math major is because I find more joy in applying math to physical situations than proving things.
 
  • #4
Nearly every physicist went through a period where they almost became mathematicians.

The problem (for most of us) is you hit a level of mathematics that ceases to be fun (eg some point around the time you hit the Bourbaki school and material), and you kind of have to master that before the mathematics gets fun again.
 
  • #5
As a physics major, I took many math courses that weren't required (for example, analysis, abstract algebra, functional analysis, topology, measure theory, etc.), and, as a physics grad student, I took three grad pure mathematics courses in representation theory and differential geometry.
 
  • #6
George Jones said:
As a physics major, I took many math courses that weren't required (for example, analysis, abstract algebra, functional analysis, topology, measure theory, etc.), and, as a physics grad student, I took three grad pure mathematics courses in representation theory and differential geometry.
Nerd.




:wink:
 
  • #7
I love using math to solve physics and engineering problems, but am not into proving theorems. I was an undergrad math major briefly, but was turned off by some junior-level math courses that were "all proofs, all the time" and switched to physics at that point. As haelfix said, I hit a level where it ceased to be fun.
 
  • #8
I like mathematics too, but my imagination and intuition has always been closer to natural sciences than to PURE math. (I never really understood the hardcore math geeks, that knows very little about physics or biology and yet literally drool over stuff like knot theory ;) So also beeing philosophically inclined I tend to always get a vision of what a certain mathematical problem or logic, could mean in terms of nature, and that to me nature and mathematics are really going hand in hand. Physics without math would be unthinkable, but I also think mathematics would not have been developed if it wasn't for our quest to understand nature.

/Fredrik
 
  • #10
Haelfix said:
Nearly every physicist went through a period where they almost became mathematicians.
Maybe it's true for theoretical physicists, but I'm not so sure about experimental ones.
 
  • #11
I like maths, but can't say i love it.
when i was in school days math is my worst enemy but from graduation i started liking it.
quite interesting.
 
  • #12
I like math, and I'm pretty good at it. If my childhood were to work out slightly differently, I could've become a professor of mathematics by now. My biggest problem with math is that I don't particularly like working on abstract stuff with no real-world applications. Which is nearly all modern mathematics (in fact, much of what physicists nowadays consider "cutting-edge math" really dates back to 1940's or further).
 
  • #13
Physics is basically maths only. You can write down a book full with words about popular science and in the end you still can't do anything apart from quoting other people. But you could understand just one equation and thenceforth understand all the results the (popular science) book failed to explain.

I like the maths that is directly useful for physics. However, there are many very abstract math topics that cannot be used for relevant physical results.
 
  • #14
Haelfix said:
Nearly every physicist went through a period where they almost became mathematicians.

Feynman started university as a math major. He asked the head of math "What is the use of higher mathematics besides besides teaching more mathematics?", the head of math replied "If you have to ask that, then you don't belong in mathematics.", so Feynman changed his major to engineering. Feynman soon realized that he had overreacted and settled on physics.

Feynman also won the Putnam by a wide margin the year that he wrote it.
 
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  • #15
I always thought I liked math, but then I took Real Analysis, the only course I ever dropped. I dropped it because I was frustrated by having to labor over proofs of math I already knew (I'd already taken three semesters of calc, linear alg and boundary value problems at that point). That's when I realized I was not interested in math, but only APPLIED math :smile:
 
  • #17
I study both physics and mathematics because I like both :)
Lately my interests have shifted more towards mathematics, but that might change back. At the moment I am following courses on Functional Analysis, Ditribution Theory, and Differential Geometry, and I can't wait to apply it by studying QM and GR in a proper way.
 
  • #18
I've always liked both mathematics and physics and I'm thrilled that the serious physics cannot be presented in a rigorous way without using the "heavy artilery" of modern mathematics.

Does anyone here like "hand waving" arguments ?
 
  • #19
Love/hate relationship here. I hate it when I don't get it. Love it when I do.

Still, I love math more than most and yes, did consider becoming a mathematician at one point.
 
  • #20
bigubau said:
Does anyone here like "hand waving" arguments ?
I do. (Which does not mean that I don't like math.) Understanding of something is the best when you have both intuitive and rigorous understanding.
 
  • #21
Haelfix said:
Nearly every physicist went through a period where they almost became mathematicians.

The problem (for most of us) is you hit a level of mathematics that ceases to be fun (eg some point around the time you hit the Bourbaki school and material), and you kind of have to master that before the mathematics gets fun again.

Say that around a mathematician and she will recoil with disbelief.
There's a difference between pure maths and applied maths...you need both to master mathematics.
 
  • #22
Gerenuk said:
Physics is basically maths only.

bigubau said:
I've always liked both mathematics and physics and I'm thrilled that the serious physics cannot be presented in a rigorous way without using the "heavy artilery" of modern mathematics.

maybe Hilbert was right: "Every kind of science, if it has only reached a certain degree of maturity, automatically becomes a part of mathematics."
 
  • #23
In my 12th grade physics class I solved the soup buble problem in 9 pages( typical 12th grade problems are less than one page). The convolution of physics and mathematics was magic to me. And who does not like magic. Higher math looks like a monster but it does not scare me.
 
  • #24
qsa said:
In my 12th grade physics class I solved the soup buble problem in 9 pages( typical 12th grade problems are less than one page).

Epic.
 
  • #25
Demystifier said:
I do. (Which does not mean that I don't like math.) Understanding of something is the best when you have both intuitive and rigorous understanding.
It all comes down to where the hands are waved. When someone glosses over details and technicalities that you understand well, there is no problem. The problem is when people wave their hands over the details that you don't understand well, find confusing, or possibly outright incorrect.
 
  • #26
Trying to learn concepts and complete assignments under a deadline was stressful, but now doing problems is very relaxing...even pleasant.
 
  • #27
General_Sax said:
Epic.

see attachment

I was 16y now 55y


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Newtonian_calculus
 

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  • #28
I've been humbled.
 
  • #29
qsa said:
see attachment

I was 16y now 55y


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Non-Newtonian_calculus

tack? don't they means track?
 
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  • #30
sportsstar469 said:
tack? don't they means track?

People in 1974 smoked weed.
 
  • #31
sportsstar469 said:
tack? don't they means track?

No, "tack" is used correctly. In that context, it means "a course of action differing from some previous course." I think it's originally a nautical term.
 
  • #32
Gear300 said:
People in 1974 smoked weed.



Yes and man went to the moon. Rock and roll and disco was invented. The three major forces were united by Salam and company. Star Trek and most of the pop culture that you enjoy today was also invented. The hippy culture could have united the world, but Regan era turned USA into mostly religious closed minded Zombies. The US never recovered.
 
  • #33
Everyone has their preferences. My favorite topic is tensors.
 
  • #34
I hate mathematics. What with its icky sticky language, total disregard for the average mind, and a pompous self-axiomatization. Its like you need to study it for 10 years just to get an idea of what its all about and make a rational conclusion on whether you like it or not.

On another note, I love mathematics. After some calculations and a deep thought on the matter, you get an answer or what looks like an answer but is really another math problem that you can't solve. But sometimes you get lucky and you have a relatively easy problem, and you are able to solve it, and then you have a solution that makes sense in the real world. It makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside, a little more superior to those around you, too. It must be what wrestlers on stage feel like, minus the broken face. Sometimes you break your nose falling asleep on your book.

But then again, I hate mathematics. Its complicated, its fun, its boring at times, its ridiculously easy, and then it is also like a demented psychopath, just staring at you from the page, mocking you, laughing at every stroke of your pen.. GRRR
 
  • #35
i love calculus. linear algebra, not so much. so i would say that I am somewhere in the middle, where I wouldn't say that I like math as a whole, but I like physics related math.
 

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