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Is a Dual Degree in EE and Math a Good Idea?

  1. Jun 2, 2014 #1

    sheldonrocks97

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    Gold Member

    I am a high school senior going into university this fall. I have completed many general education credits and I am going in as a freshman with 68 credits already completed.

    Because of this, I am interested in instead of taking 2 1/2 or 3 years in university I would be willing to take 4 years to get a dual degree, since my scholarship is good for that long.

    I was thinking about getting my dual degree in mathematics. Is that a good idea? Do you have any suggestions of what I should get a dual degree in? Let me know what you have to say.

    Thanks,

    Austin
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 2, 2014 #2
    Higher math can be really beneficial in EE, especially if you deal with computers. Other useful fields are computer science, physics, and mechanical engineering.

    But, before you commit to anything like this, you should study the course schedules for your department. You'll probably find that certain core classes are always offered at a specific time, and that some required classes are not offered every semester. You may run into serious scheduling conflicts that could drag your college career out much longer than you expect if you don't plan ahead.
     
  4. Jun 2, 2014 #3
    Sounds like a good idea to me, but don't get TOO carried away with. I wish I would have stuck with my plan of an EE and math double major, but I got carried away for a while and just switched to math. So, just don't drop the EE major without very serious consideration. Particularly if you are one of those people who starts to like the math better because it emphasizes deeper conceptual understanding. In the long run, math, at the research level, can be a disaster area for people who like to understand things for themselves, in my experience, despite the impression you might get from just an undergraduate degree.

    If that sounds surprising, have a look at these:

    http://mathoverflow.net/questions/99506/blackbox-theorems

    http://blogs.scientificamerican.com/guest-blog/2013/10/01/voevodskys-mathematical-revolution/

    From which, I will highlight the following quote from a Fields' medalist, no less, tacitly admitting (and even going further, as if it were hardly even worthy of note) that mathematicians are proving theorems that they don't even fully understand themselves:

    "He also predicts that this will lead to a blossoming of collaboration, pointing out that right now, collaboration requires an enormous trust, because it’s too much work to carefully check your collaborator’s work. With computer verification, the computer does all that for you, so you can collaborate with anyone and know that what they produce is solid. That creates the possibility of mathematicians doing large-scale collaborative projects that have been impractical until now."

    So, there goes that idea I had of understanding things for myself that made me change my major to math and then go to grad school for it, right out the window. Silly of me not to see it earlier.

    So, if any other EE out there finds themselves tempted by math, beyond a minor or double-major because they mistakenly get the impression that EE is plug and chug and math is about understanding, I hope that will give them pause. It's a big case of "out of the frying pan, into the fire". They'd be much better off, just fighting the good fight in EE and trying really hard to understand what what they learn there. Unless, of course, they happen to be a fan of working with big black-box theorems they don't understand. My father is a professor of EE and reports that the situation seems to be better with regard to these issues.

    The double major would be particularly good if you plan to go to grad school for EE, though, in areas like signal processing or control theory.
     
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