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engmathengphys

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Long story short, my career goals are to work as a researcher/research scientist in machine learning or to develop models/algorithms for forecasting such as in financial markets or otherwise. Fundamentally, I find think this is quite similar to physics as a science, but that is for another discussion. I don't explicitly plan on becoming a physicist even though I think I would enjoy it, just not to the extent of machine learning which is still a relatively new and fast moving area of research.

In my country, there are basically only two real options: engineering physics or, more recently, engineering mathematics. These programs consist of a three year bachelor's and a two year master's. As the choices of master's are quite similar, I will only focus on the first three years.

Engineering physics is an applied math & physics program that has for many years been the flagship program and feeder for graduate studies in mathematics and physics. Naturally, this program has a very good reputation nationally and every year some of it's alumni go to top US institutions for their graduate studies. Yearly there are about 150-200 admits here.

A year ago, the engineering mathematics program was started which is a spin-off/sibling-program of engineering physics. The main difference is that instead of studying applied math & physics, you study more math and some CS. Having said this, both programs study identical courses in single- and multi-variable calculus, real analysis and a decently advanced course in linear algebra. The difference is still significant though as one can fit in measure theory, additional course in statistics, complex analysis, groups & rings, optimization and more during the bachelor's portion of the degree. Yearly there are about 60-70 admits here.

From a pragmatic point of view, the choice is pretty obvious; engineering mathematics will allow me to study significantly more relevant math for my goals before the master's even begins. This will in turn allow me to go deeper and reach the cutting edge sooner during my master's studies.

Despite this, my heart is with engineering physics.

First of all, I believe I have a stronger natural talent for physics as opposed to mathematics. I find most physics I've studied so far to be intuitive and easy to pick up. It's relatively easy to build a mental model of physical laws and understand or further derive other relationships from them. While I think mathematical proofs can be as intuitive as physics, I find the actual use of math in an applied sense to be less intuitive and require some level of abstraction/acceptance that certain properties have been proved. Even if I know the proof, it's sometimes difficult to see the whole line of reasoning from from the fundamental proof to the actual application you're doing. With physics I can to a much larger extent rely on a complete mental model without abstracting away things.

Secondly, my interest for physics has been bigger than my interest for mathematics for a few years now. I still enjoy mathematics, but it's more of a means to an end (ML/CS).

Thirdly, I'm a little concerned about reputation and how well known engineering mathematics is internationally. While the quality of students at engineering mathematics is probably very similar to engineering physics (entrance exam cut off was actually higher for engineering mathematics), it's still a very new program with no alumni as of yet. To make things worse, class size is significantly smaller for engineering mathematics so marketing through alumni will remain small for a long time. Engineering physics on the other hand already has some alumni that have broken through the door. Granted, none of these are well known internationally so it might not matter that much.

Lastly, there is something very attractive with the duality of having studied both math and physics to reasonable levels. Having the ability to engage in both subjects and/or change career paths. "Polymath".

Am I being unwise for favoring engineering physics? Are there some factors I'm not considering or overestimating the value of?

Any input is helpful appreciated.

I got admitted to engineering mathematics a week ago.

In my country, there are basically only two real options: engineering physics or, more recently, engineering mathematics. These programs consist of a three year bachelor's and a two year master's. As the choices of master's are quite similar, I will only focus on the first three years.

Engineering physics is an applied math & physics program that has for many years been the flagship program and feeder for graduate studies in mathematics and physics. Naturally, this program has a very good reputation nationally and every year some of it's alumni go to top US institutions for their graduate studies. Yearly there are about 150-200 admits here.

A year ago, the engineering mathematics program was started which is a spin-off/sibling-program of engineering physics. The main difference is that instead of studying applied math & physics, you study more math and some CS. Having said this, both programs study identical courses in single- and multi-variable calculus, real analysis and a decently advanced course in linear algebra. The difference is still significant though as one can fit in measure theory, additional course in statistics, complex analysis, groups & rings, optimization and more during the bachelor's portion of the degree. Yearly there are about 60-70 admits here.

From a pragmatic point of view, the choice is pretty obvious; engineering mathematics will allow me to study significantly more relevant math for my goals before the master's even begins. This will in turn allow me to go deeper and reach the cutting edge sooner during my master's studies.

Despite this, my heart is with engineering physics.

First of all, I believe I have a stronger natural talent for physics as opposed to mathematics. I find most physics I've studied so far to be intuitive and easy to pick up. It's relatively easy to build a mental model of physical laws and understand or further derive other relationships from them. While I think mathematical proofs can be as intuitive as physics, I find the actual use of math in an applied sense to be less intuitive and require some level of abstraction/acceptance that certain properties have been proved. Even if I know the proof, it's sometimes difficult to see the whole line of reasoning from from the fundamental proof to the actual application you're doing. With physics I can to a much larger extent rely on a complete mental model without abstracting away things.

Secondly, my interest for physics has been bigger than my interest for mathematics for a few years now. I still enjoy mathematics, but it's more of a means to an end (ML/CS).

Thirdly, I'm a little concerned about reputation and how well known engineering mathematics is internationally. While the quality of students at engineering mathematics is probably very similar to engineering physics (entrance exam cut off was actually higher for engineering mathematics), it's still a very new program with no alumni as of yet. To make things worse, class size is significantly smaller for engineering mathematics so marketing through alumni will remain small for a long time. Engineering physics on the other hand already has some alumni that have broken through the door. Granted, none of these are well known internationally so it might not matter that much.

Lastly, there is something very attractive with the duality of having studied both math and physics to reasonable levels. Having the ability to engage in both subjects and/or change career paths. "Polymath".

Am I being unwise for favoring engineering physics? Are there some factors I'm not considering or overestimating the value of?

Any input is helpful appreciated.

I got admitted to engineering mathematics a week ago.

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