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Is computational physics a PhD area of study?

  1. Dec 29, 2013 #1
    If someone wanted to go into computational physics, would that be the PhD area of study, or is it just a branch of the better known areas, like hep, condensed matter, etc. Also is it considered theoretical or experimental? (I would assume experimental).

  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 29, 2013 #2
    It is computational physics xD...

    However, if you really want to classify it as either experimental or theoretical physics, I would say it depends on what you actually do...

    If you are just running a code and focussing in the analysis of the results, than it is more experimental. But if you are developing numerical methods I would say it is more a theoretical branch.
  4. Dec 29, 2013 #3


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    Most of the computational work done by faculty at universities that I've seen is considered in the theoretical department.

    But you don't just do "computational physics." Computational physics is a tool used for physics research just the same as conducting experiments or using pen & paper. It is a more practical way to simulate processes and reactions that would be expensive and/or impossible to do physically. It exists in every branch of physics, it doesn't really have it's own branch. So there is computational materials physics, computational astrophysics, computational plasma physics, etc.

    My point is that computational physics isn't itself an actual thing, but a tool applied to the various branches of physics.
  5. Dec 30, 2013 #4


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    My two cents... I nominally am a PhD student in theoretical physics. In reality, I spend about 70% of my time and effort doing numerical simulations versus about 30% of the time doing traditional, pen and paper theory. I find this balance to be extremely satisfying, personally.

    My field, on the other hand, is Condensed Matter Physics.
  6. Dec 30, 2013 #5
    There are departments, and I think UCF or USF (in Florida) are one of them, where they have an explicitly-titled "computational physics" research group.

    Gradschoolshopper.com might help you.
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