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Importance of CS to the Mathematics/Physics Major.

  1. Oct 8, 2008 #1

    I'm an undergraduate and since freshman year have been double majoring in: Mathematics and Physics. However, recently things like: NSF REU options, internal/external lab positions, overall academic competitiveness, and finanical options (read: a nice salary); has me really wondering if I should study Computer Science in addition to my majors of Mathematics and Physics?

    As it stands I can handle my mathematics and physics majors, however CS is significantly different. I guess if I added CS, I would be going for a double major with a minor in CS (or even a triple major :yuck:).

    I was wondering if anyone else is seeing this trend? In my perspective, it just seems I see way too much programming in: positions I'd like and internships I want to get. I would also think mathematicians/physicists with a knowledge of CS have an advantage in terms of the options CS provides, that is the ability to create their own programs to help aid their research.


  2. jcsd
  3. Oct 8, 2008 #2
    just study it yourself. Some of the best computer programmers are physicists. Just think: In the 1970's there was no "computer science major."

    Many of the best programmers didn't get a computer science "degree."
  4. Oct 9, 2008 #3
    Tronter is right. I have a physics undergrad and now work for a computer company. I am a coder and just learned the language myself.
  5. Oct 9, 2008 #4
    commercial coding is the most boring thing ever, study computational science and then you'll get to program really cool things like trading strategies.
  6. Oct 9, 2008 #5
    I never took any CS courses but picked up two languages in the course of my studies. Once you know one or two languages fairly wel you're ok. Maybe one or two course in CS is enough.
  7. Oct 9, 2008 #6
    i feel pretty useless because i don't know any CS.
  8. Oct 9, 2008 #7
    At some schools as part of the math curriculum they recommend (if not require) you take at least the beginner cs class. Probably just so you can say you have at least one language under your belt or have had exposure to cs that is verifiable by transcript.
  9. Oct 9, 2008 #8


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    Amazing that some of you pick up one or two computer languages on your own without attending courses of instruction. Just a type of minimal BASIC in a beginning programming course from a few decades ago was extremely difficult. Learning that or any language without actually attending a course would not have been any easier. That is just me.
  10. Oct 9, 2008 #9
    well, in my lab, there are a whole bunch of undergraduates, including me. None of us has formal training in coding (for me I have never taken a class in CS). Yet, we all just pick up some C++ and do serious coding in root....

    for me, the best way to learn a programming language is to actually use it. You'll see why pointers are useful, why kind of standard libraries stuff are useful, and how to smartly implement some alogrithms. Besides, in your research, you'll probably be reading other people's code. A formal class won't be nearly as quick and/or useful as just seeing how other people do things and copy them.
  11. Oct 10, 2008 #10
    meh i don't see any difference between learning a programming language and learning mathematics or a natural language for that matter.
  12. Oct 10, 2008 #11
    Download a Python or Java compiler, and grab a text book from a library.

    I learnt on Java, but if you are going at it by yourself Python is a really nice language as you don't have to compile everytime you run a program (i.e. you don't have to get every line perfect to get something to work.), and Java doesn't have explicit pointers (which you will have to master eventually, but maybe not first up)

    Some people are comfortable jumping straight into c/c++, but I wasn't. It's too easy to get lost in it, especially if you're self-taught.
  13. Oct 10, 2008 #12


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    Amazing thing that no one seems to remark on, that computer science isn't only about programming in some language.

    What about courses in computational complexity, algorithms, discrete maths and graph theory and matroids?

    I believe you can take these theoretical courses without even enrolling to cs major, ofcourse you need the right preliminaries.
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