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Mathematics in physics

  1. Aug 20, 2008 #1
    How many mathematics are there in physics? Please give me the answer in percentage.


  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 20, 2008 #2


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    Homework Helper

    You can't quantify it. Read Zapper's guide to get a rough idea.
  4. Aug 20, 2008 #3


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    between 37 and 41
  5. Aug 20, 2008 #4
    Dude, there are millions of words in that website (not to be rude or anything), I don't want all other information that I don't really need right now... I just want to know the approximate percentage of mathematics in physics. Or, you could tell me where in that website that tells me the "sort of" answer to my wanted question to be answered. Anyone could help me out here, if possible.


  6. Aug 20, 2008 #5
    I really don't know how to quantify that. Perhaps pick up a physics book and see how many math equation there is inside? But seriously, you just have to deal with the math if you want to study physics.
  7. Aug 20, 2008 #6
    There is a finite but unbounded amount of mathematics. Think of it like the surface of a balloon...
  8. Aug 20, 2008 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    Does this mean, "What percentage of all mathematics is used somewhere in physics", or does it mean "What percentage of physics uses mathematics?"
  9. Aug 20, 2008 #8
    He might be asking for a coefficient of correlation between mathematics ability and physics scores. That would tell him how much of being a successful physicist overlaps with mathematics.

    Perhaps the collegeboard publishes a statistic like that?
  10. Aug 20, 2008 #9


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    And perhaps he wants to know how many mathematicians work in physics? As a percentage of mathematicians, and as a percentage of physicists.

    I love questions which have an infinite number of meanings.
  11. Aug 20, 2008 #10


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    Or it could mean, what percentage of physics problems are solved used mathematics of some kind, in which case I would say roughly 100%.
  12. Aug 20, 2008 #11
    The question may be interpreted with an infinite number of meanings, and yet ultimately the question itself was profoundly meaningless. How zen.
  13. Aug 20, 2008 #12


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    Perhaps this should be moved to philosophy

    (and promptly locked once it arrives)
  14. Aug 20, 2008 #13
    Hmmm... Joking aside, I'm curious if anyone has a correlation between physics grades and math grades? Or physics SAT subject test and Math SAT subject test.
  15. Aug 21, 2008 #14
    I'm not an expert by far, but as far as I have understood:

    For undergraduate physics you need about as much math as what is normally covered in the first year of a undergraduate maths degree. Which would be Calculus I & II, Linear algebra and some Geometry and a bit of Statistics.

    Beyond that I guess you need to tailor the math to what you study.

  16. Aug 21, 2008 #15


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    Well I have done 33% math classes, but you use the math in your physics classes and computing classes all the time (the language of physics is math). But you can of course study more math if you want, but at least a lot of plain calculus, linear algebra and statistics is a minimum.
  17. Aug 21, 2008 #16
    The language of physics is mathematics. In order to study physics seriously, one needs to learn mathematics that took generations of brilliant people centuries to work out. Let us start from the top shall we?
    1. Algebra
    2. Geometry
    3. Trigonometry
    4. Calculus (single variable)
    5. Calculus (multi variable)
    6. Analytic Geometry
    7. Linear Algebra
    8. Ordinary Differential Equations
    9. Partial Differential Equations
    10. Methods of approximation
    11. Probability and statistics

    Now, for those more inclined for advanced topics in theoretical work, there are a couple more tools you need...
    1. Real analysis
    2. Complex analysis
    3. Group theory
    4. Differential geometry
    5. Lie groups
    6. Differential forms
    7. Homology
    8. Cohomology
    9. Homotopy
    10. Fiber bundles
    11. Characteristic classes
    12. Index theorems
    13. Supersymmetry and supergravity

    As far as the cutting edge of theory goes (string theory), I may as well throw these in too...
    1. K-theory
    2. Noncommutative geometry (NCG for short)

    I didn't think the question was very ambiguous at all. :smile:
  18. Aug 21, 2008 #17
    Hah, that's awesome. Clearly this mathematically minded person deserves a numerical percentage answer, and fast. We should be ashamed we haven't provided a good one, and shown our work to boot.
  19. Aug 21, 2008 #18
    And yet you failed to report your answer as a percentage.
  20. Aug 21, 2008 #19
    Yes, I meant my question to be:
    "What percentage of physics uses mathematics?"
  21. Aug 21, 2008 #20
    One hundred.
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