Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

How many of you guys actually like mathematics?

  1. Dec 3, 2009 #1
    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.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 3, 2009 #2

    Fredrik

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  4. Dec 3, 2009 #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.
     
  5. Dec 3, 2009 #4

    Haelfix

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
     
  6. Dec 3, 2009 #5

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
  7. Dec 3, 2009 #6

    Fredrik

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Nerd.




    :wink:
     
  8. Dec 3, 2009 #7

    Redbelly98

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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.
     
  9. Dec 4, 2009 #8

    Fra

    User Avatar

    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 litteraly 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. Dec 4, 2009 #9

    Demystifier

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I like it too.
     
  11. Dec 4, 2009 #10

    Demystifier

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    Maybe it's true for theoretical physicists, but I'm not so sure about experimental ones.
     
  12. Dec 4, 2009 #11
    I like maths, but cant say i love it.
    when i was in school days math is my worst enemy but from graduation i started liking it.
    quite interesting.
     
  13. Dec 4, 2009 #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).
     
  14. Dec 4, 2009 #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.
     
  15. Dec 4, 2009 #14

    George Jones

    User Avatar
    Staff Emeritus
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    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.
     
    Last edited: Dec 4, 2009
  16. Dec 4, 2009 #15

    RUTA

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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. Dec 4, 2009 #16

    atyy

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

  18. Dec 4, 2009 #17

    Landau

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
     
  19. Dec 4, 2009 #18

    dextercioby

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Homework Helper

    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 ?
     
  20. Dec 4, 2009 #19

    alxm

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
     
  21. Dec 7, 2009 #20

    Demystifier

    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    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.
     
Know someone interested in this topic? Share this thread via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook




Similar Discussions: How many of you guys actually like mathematics?
Loading...