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Mathematical physics?

  1. Sep 23, 2007 #1
    Any mathematical physicists here? What do you do? Do you get a bit of both worlds? Or is it strictly about mathematics? Do you get to feel the physics at all?
  2. jcsd
  3. Sep 24, 2007 #2
    Yes, I'm interested to know this too. How much of mathematical physics is physics? I love physics, but I also like mathematical rigour, so I was thinking perhaps mathematical physics is for me.

  4. Sep 24, 2007 #3
    Uh, what physics isn't mathematical to some degree? Pretty much all physicists get involved in some math.
  5. Sep 24, 2007 #4
    There are many formulations of what constitues 'mathematical physics,' and I am certain that the definition varies subjectively.

    What are some examples of 'mathematical physics,' that you are interested in? Kahler Geometry, or something similar to that?
    Last edited: Sep 24, 2007
  6. Sep 24, 2007 #5
    in my opinion "mathematical physics" is a stupid term as physics involves math. Phyics is either physics or not physics.
  7. Sep 25, 2007 #6
    I believe mathematical physics is a commonly used term, even by physicists. For example, existence of the mass gap is a problem in mathematical physics.

  8. Sep 25, 2007 #7


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    I would say that mathematical physicists usually work on things which involve PDE descriptions, or the like...

    They're like the missing link between Physics and Applied Maths :biggrin:

    Strange though, because Theorists also do a lot of Math but probably what some on here would consider Pure, but what some mathematicians would consider Applied :tongue:

    Pretty much, the bottom line is that there are no distinctions.

    I've found that those who distinguish to the nth dgree usually do so out of trying to protect their field, or through some self-preservation mechanism, or because they can't/haven't worked with others.

    And students love to make these distinctions too :biggrin:
  9. Sep 25, 2007 #8
    This question certainly touches me. I'm right now wondering in which direction I should start leaning in my studies. I started with physics, but changed to mathematics because I got frustrated with physicists. I was thinking about mathematical physics. Alternatively I could start leaning towards mathematical analysis. It would be easier at the moment because there is no courses of mathematical physics going, and I just learned to know one professor on analysis. But I don't know analysis very well yet...

    I hope that analysis and mathematical physics go somewhat hand in hand, so that early decisions wouldn't lock the future too badly. I don't know... hoping is easy of course :/
  10. Sep 25, 2007 #9
    Is that because of the lack of rigour in physics?
  11. Sep 25, 2007 #10
    Could be, but it's not that simple. Saying that something is rigour or not, is like trying to decide if some given [itex]x\in\;]0,1[[/itex] is x=0 or x=1.
  12. Sep 25, 2007 #11
    pivoxa15, how are your studies going anyway? I haven't been following all of your posts, but I've got a feeling that we could be a little bit in a similar situation.
  13. Sep 25, 2007 #12


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    well it depends, there are some courses that are not given the emphasis on rigour in maths, but i guess that courses such as GR and QM you must know the maths that is being used rigoursly cause you won't know how to use it and when.

    yes the optimal plan is first learning the maths rigoursly before even starting learning classical mechanics and classical electricity, but it would take more than 4-5 years to finish the degree this is why for example i've taken this my first year two courses from the physics departement in maths which covered between the topics ODE and vector analysis which is essential to mechanics and classical EM, which if i were only taking maths i would take it in my second year, but because im learning physics and maths degree i would need to retake the course calculus 3 (which covers vector analysis) and a course in ODE by the maths departement which is ofocurse an unnecessary repeat, ofcourse i would be more knowledgable than those maths amjors who need to take the above course in their second year.

    but if your'e learning maths and physics you should have the distinction when you need to caluluate for the physics and when to calculate for maths, needless to say that i feel that it's a burden that in maths i still need to calculate integrals, but this is why there are courses in logic,combinatorics, set theory that you would take in hope that calculuation are minute to none (well combinatroics you still have it, but not integrals (-:).
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