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

How much time sciencists spending on math?

  1. Jan 28, 2008 #1
    What part of live is for math or physics for sciensists? I think need work all day (10 hours or more) if you want to be a good sciencists of physics or math or good lecturer. Do I right?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2008 #2


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor
    Gold Member

    Math is the language of physics. All good physicists are excellent mathematicians.
  4. Jan 30, 2008 #3
    Here's my experience as a first year physics grad student who majored in math:

    Math and physics most certainly aren't the same thing, and the answer to your question depends on what you mean by "math." In my coursework and research, I spend a lot of time doing mathematics. But most of this involves doing a lot of algebra, taking derivatives, writing programs, etc. In my math courses as an undergrad, there was very little computation, and very many proofs. Honestly it felt like being an English or philosophy major at times. Real mathematics doesn't involve as much computation as physics

    To be a physicist you need to be excellent at "basic" math like algebra and calculus, which I think is what Chronos was getting at. But it's OK if you don't know the difference between a field and a ring.
  5. Jan 30, 2008 #4
    Eh? I hope not. I haven't done any real upper-division math. Diff EQ's, Partial derivatives, vector calculus, linear algebra, some real and complex analysis in my math physics class. That's about it. I wouldn't consider that being an excellent mathematician.

    Not compared to what my math major friends are doing.
  6. Jan 30, 2008 #5
    If you have some experience with this, then you should be fine for physics. The only upper division math I've ever used in my graduate physics classes is complex analysis, and even then it was only twice. If you know linear algebra, diff eq, and vector calculus, that's pretty much all you need. Any math you need for specialized topics, you'll probably learn on the fly.
  7. Jan 30, 2008 #6
    Im taking PDEs right now, and its going to be rough. Its been a long time since my last math class.
  8. Jan 30, 2008 #7


    User Avatar
    Homework Helper
    Gold Member

    I like to use the following example to explain the difference between a math and physics majors knowledge of math:

    A mathematician is VERY well versed in a smaller area of mathematics, knowing all the in and outs, all the tricks, and knows where everything comes from.

    A physicist, on the other hand, has knowledge of many different areas of math, though their knowledge of any one area of math is usually much shallowing than that of a mathematician who specializes in any of those areas. A physicist will know enough about the area to use the mathematical tools from that area effectively and efficiently.
  9. Jan 31, 2008 #8
    I think, that if your profesion is matehematics or good physics then need very hard work and spend for it much time and much think and practicicate. I enough good understand derivatives, integrals, but harder integrals is pretty hard to me. Partial derivative in many hard combinations f(x, y) is also almost unclear and very hard and two or 3 integrals at one time also very hard, so it's hard to me to understood how profesrors can handle it. So I think math and physics and also programing, computers is the hardest science, but which giving the biggest benefit for humans... Also I was trying to learn physics, but by trying learn physics I almost nothing to learn and to try somthing learn of physics is just like Donkihot fighting with millhouses. For physics learning perhaps is more important practic. Also was trying learn quantum mechanics and almost nothing learn, maybe my physics books bad...
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook