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Just study Math AND CompSci (well) and get ready to rule the world!

  1. Jul 21, 2010 #1
    Hello fellow Physics Forums attendees.

    I am not here to argue which is the best major to undertake in school. Instead, I am here to attempt to establish, or at least hear what others think about, the much said expression that people who major in both Math and CompSci can do anything.

    Me, being a major in both subjects, was first skeptical about it. It is impossible for college juniors to know what they are talking about if they haven't step into a few years of employment. Given the fact that I'm quite familiar with the content of most related classes, I can easily think of counter-examples.

    1. If you major in math, you do stuff like real analysis and algebra whose direct application is only in academia itself. No way is a Lie group used to calculated the efficiency of say a car. 2. Yes, you know complexity theory. But come on, how many times do calculations in say a back discounted financial model goes beyond computational limits. 3. Not much use understanding computer architecture if all you do is find release/retain statements in C++. Or did you even learn C++ in your CompSci major requirements.

    Ooopps. How wrong could we all be to say that Math and CompSci students will rule the world. Then, while serving my internship at this trading firm, I'm starting to see the truth in that statement, every part of it in particular, you have to study BOTH, you have to do WELL, and indeed, you will RULE THE WORLD. Let me give a brief survey of how such a student, Mr. MathCS, would do this.

    In Engineering: The two important pillars has always been software implementation and numerical analysis. Mr. MathCS walks in through the door and writes an algorithm, much faster than the existing ones the company has, that approximates a solution for a fluid dynamics problem. The next day, the well known electrical engineers got the architecture of this new platform up but look to Mr. MathCS to use his skills which he learnt over his summer project: parallel computing and multithreading.

    In Finance (like me): Mr. MathCS, after taking 2 years of analysis, treats all calculations as trivial. He scoffs at all these basic numerical methods and says come on, "Do you know I deal with limits and measure spaces." Within a day, he just absorbs all the knowledge and in fact just treat them as special cases to the much-harder generalizations he has learnt.

    In Software engineering: Mr. MathCS almost faces his first challenge when the people around him can in fact program machine learning algorithms to detect patterns. However how Mr. MathCS sets himself apart by accessing journals containing the secret concepts of Machine Learning only made accessible to those who know Lie Groups, Differential Geometry, and Topology. He breaks out with a phrase that shocks everyone, "Let me look for invariants in the data and then find a pattern by reducing it's dimensions by half." Everyone is stun.

    Simply put, Mr. MathCS just does things quicker, knows things faster, thinks about things sharper, and is just better. Yes, Mr. MathCS will rule the world.

    Or do you think he is just over himself?
    P.S.: Assume for now that all the subjects mentioned was actually learnt in Mr. MathCS 4-year curriculum at a top 10 school. Not such a implausible assumption.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jul 21, 2010 #2
    I'm not sure what the real purpose of your post is... Are you advertising yourself? Or are you arguing that people that do a double major will be better off?
  4. Jul 21, 2010 #3
    Since you're clearly referring to yourself when you say "Mr. MathCS," this is, beyond any shadow of a doubt, the most arrogant post I've ever read here on PF. Also, as sEsposito said above, it has no point. Seriously, why did you post this?
  5. Jul 21, 2010 #4
    Perhaps you rule the world, but you don't seem to rule grammar.
  6. Jul 21, 2010 #5
    Wow, this is terrible. Even if you are as intelligent as you think you are, which I'm not saying you are, a little humility wouldn't hurt. You really shouldn't go into a work environment with this superiority complex. Being able to work with people is vital to most jobs and thinking you're better than everyone else is not going to help anyone. The truth is, even if you are "smarter","quicker" and "better" than everyone else, which I'm not saying you are going to be, it doesn't mean that you'll be able to do their job better. A relatively intelligent person who has gotten a good education in say, electrical engineering, and has work experience, is going to be able to do their electrical engineering job better than you. In other words, education catering to a specific profession (as most engineering, finance, and software engineering is) and work experience are going to help in a job much more than simply being smart. Assuming you aren't a genius. Not such an implausible assumption.
  7. Jul 21, 2010 #6
    Geez, you guys take yourselves WAY too seriously.

    @sEsposito, it's not really hard to grasp the purpose of his post? He is arguing that people who major in both math and CS can do anything. I'm pretty sure he said that in his post, but perhaps you could read more carefully at the line where he says EXACTLY that. And I don't think he is advertising himself, which brings me to

    Newtime, there is actually no particularly good reason to suggest that he is referring to himself. In case you haven't noticed, he is not simply basing his arguments on his own experience, since he explicitly stated that he is an intern, which has ALLOWED HIM to see the truth in the statement. Judging from what donnylee has posted before, he has not actually undertaken all those courses and endeavors he mentioned. Moreover, his examples have a slightly tongue-in-cheek flavor that is evident to me. In any case, I don't really see how this is THE MOST ARROGANT POST EVER.

    @zooxanthellae. All right I am not even going to bother to point out why criticizing someone's grammar is usually silly. Sometimes it is okay but this was totally unnecessary since it doesn't actually affect his argument in anyway.

    @gigabyte3000, um read above I guess. Though you actually cared to give points to which I agree with.

    I could easily disagree with the OP's points, but there is no point in pointing out how arrogant he is when he is probably not as arrogant as you think (again read the parts of the post that are actual facts, as opposed to supposition, or see one of his previous posts). If you care to point out what's wrong with his reasoning, do so.
  8. Jul 21, 2010 #7
    Can you Math and Compsci build your own theory in theortical physics? To the magnitude of Newton's laws of gravity, Einstein's General Relativity?
  9. Jul 21, 2010 #8
    Alright snipe, I will concede that I was a little hasty in my decision to treat this post with hostility. But I do think that he was at least showing more arrogance than the acceptable range. I think that if he isn't saying that "Mr.MathCS" is himself, which I personally think he's doing, he is at least saying that he relates to him. I think that the apparent lightness and tongue-in-cheek flavor are simply failsafes. Most of the time when you meet an arrogant person, they won't have a hugely serious tone, but rather a light joking tone. And don't say that jokes don't show the persons actually views because they absolutely do. That's generally what makes jokes funny, that there is some truth in it. Now I think that donnylee is right on some aspects, in that a Math/CS person is likely going to be more versatile and able to problem solve better than most, but I don't think that he went about the best way in proposing it. If you really can't see how his post was dripping with arrogance, then I think you may want to take a few English Literature classes and read some Mark Twain. But I will say that I admire your levelheadedness, snipe.

    EDIT: Yeah, on second thought, mentioning Mark Twain didn't really make sense in context. I was thinking "satire" when I was thinking of examples rather than "arrogance". Although some could say that Mark Twain was a little arrogant...
    Last edited: Jul 21, 2010
  10. Jul 21, 2010 #9
    Dude it's not a big deal. I do agree with some of what you've said about discerning arrogance. I never said he didn't come off as arrogant, but I'd like to focus more on the points and not discuss exactly how arrogant he is because I don't care about that. Of course if he said something like Math/CS majors are better than others and anything but top 10 schools suck, then I would simply ignore his post.

    As for the humor, I really do find it more amusing to the point of absurd. I mean obviously there are people who know about limits and measure spaces who cannot perform computations as adeptly as others. Also the degree to which quite abstract mathematics are applied to say trading is in most cases very small. Thus some of the flaws in the OP's reasoning. But again I deemed it more amusing than arrogant.

    Also, I said this in a different thread, but being a CS major is very different from learning how to program well. For finance jobs, I'm pretty sure the latter is marketable. Of course it's hard to find a CS major who can't program well, but there is a distinction there (namely you don't have to major in CS to be good at programming). As for the added merit of being a theoretical CS major, this relates back to the issue of practicality vs. theory. Hopefully someone who is more knowledgeable about the practicality part (like twofish quant) will discuss that.
  11. Jul 21, 2010 #10
    I think you should read his post again. If we concede that he isn't exactly referring to himself (a possibility) then at the very least he identifies with "Mr. MathCS," which is why I thought this was so arrogant. But the main issue I had was...what's the point of this post? If his opinion that Math/CS majors are superior was offered in a different way such as:

    "...and that's why I think someone who is a double major in math and CS is inherently superior. I know it's a bold statement but I feel like I coherently reasoned my point. What are everyone else's thoughts?"

    instead of how he did it, I would have disagreed but I would have had no issue with the actual post.

    But like gigabyte said...sure I might have been a little quick to make that judgment. However, I still think the post was roundabout and inane at best and arrogant and pointless at worst.
  12. Jul 21, 2010 #11
    Well I read it again, and again all I really see are some rather half-baked examples. I already explained why the finance example was pretty half-baked, and the machine learning example also seems half-baked. I sense the engineering one is too, but I can't say for sure. Usually when someone gives half-baked examples, whether or not they are arrogant becomes less of an issue for me, because it doesn't change the misinformation.

    For him to think that math/CS is inherently superior should imply some comparisons. I don't think he intends that math/CS is superior to other disciplines, which would be an obvious sign of arrogance. It just seems clear to me from his examples that he is saying "math/CS allows you to rule the world in the sense that you can do a lot of useful things, and you can help others solve problems in other disciplines that use math". The scope of the argument is limited, as he is really just talking about math/CS, and using "rule the world" as a metaphor for just how much one can do with math/CS. Since I take this to be his point, I argue against the flaws in his examples and his reasoning. Remember just because someone takes something to the extreme good doesn't mean that everything else is necessarily less superior because that person is focused on just one thing. This is often the case in literature, but all I see is a guy who thinks math/CS has no limitations when in fact it does depending on the specific scenario. This was my interpretation. He does come off as arrogant, but I've seen worse.

    Anyways let's move past the arrogance issue. I don't condone it either, which is why I focused on the flaws in reasoning.
  13. Jul 21, 2010 #12
    I agree, to me it's just the OP being elated after realizing he has more options with his degree than what he previously thought. I could be wrong, though.
  14. Jul 21, 2010 #13
    I know that grammar is pretty irrelevant as far as content goes. My post was intended to play up how silly/hyperbolic the whole post was.
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