# Mathematics vs Physics

What is the difference between Mathematics and Physics?

JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member

There is a big difference between the two, so if you can't see that difference maybe you should be studying someth...

"so if you can't see that difference maybe you should be studying someth..."

Mabey that is why I am here.......... .................................................................................................................................................................................................................
Yes, I am currently talking algebra classes at the local college. I have been looking for a bigger difference or better explanation other than the " one deals with the physical and one dose not need to" answer.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Well there isn't much to say about the differences. Math is just math, it doesn't need physics to exist, its simply counting numbers ... along with a lot more complex things. Physics, on the other hand, is the modeling of the physical world around us. Physics uses mathematics to describe the world around us.

math relies on a set of postulates and logic to prove something, where as physicist use experimental results to "prove" something

simon009988 said:
math relies on a set of postulates and logic to prove something, where as physicist use experimental results to "prove" something
That isn't really correct either- alot of phyics is proved theoreticly without experimental data. Proved using mathmathiimatics.

Pengwuino
Gold Member
Cosmo16 said:
That isn't really correct either- alot of phyics is proved theoreticly without experimental data. Proved using mathmathiimatics.
Well something is never really proven in physics until an experiment confirms it and even at that, its never 100% proven.

JasonRox
Homework Helper
Gold Member
Pengwuino said:
Well something is never really proven in physics until an experiment confirms it and even at that, its never 100% proven.
Well, you have Applied and Theoritical Physics... don't forget that.

cepheid
Staff Emeritus
Gold Member
Cosmo16 said:
That isn't really correct either- alot of phyics is proved theoreticly without experimental data. Proved using mathmathiimatics.
Ummm...no. Physical theories are formulated mathematically to describe the physical world. That doesn't mean that anything has been "proved" about physics though. If they are good theories, then they should be predictive, i.e. one should be able to go out and do an experiment that may or may not bear out the predictions of the theory. If it does, then that lends credence to the theory. On the other hand, if it the experimental results are inconsistent with the theoretical predictions, the theory is scrapped, even though it was mathematically correct and self-consistent. I hope that this illustrates the difference between science and mathematics.

dextercioby
Homework Helper
ramstin said:
What is the difference between Mathematics and Physics?
I can't tell you that, but i can tell you the similarity between Theoretical Physics and Mathematics: they have isomorphic Lie algebras...:tongue2:

Daniel.

"they have isomorphic Lie algebras..."

Way over my head. O.k. so Physics is the modeling of the physical world. Mathematics deals with theories and logic to prove something. Once you get into Theoretical Physics then you start to blur the line between the two. Is this correct?

Mathematics and Physics are two different classes you can enrol into.
The goals are the same. Make sure you pass the exams.
The contents will surely be abit of this and abit of that.

matt grime
Homework Helper
Theoretical physics is still a model of the physical world, it is just one that is not necessarily testable by experiments (though it might become so later).

Mathematics is the study of maths, phyics the study of physics, there really is no nice absolute clean line drawn between the two, and no nice set of rules for saying what either one is (we can usually say what it isn't). But as someone once said: i might not be able to define it but i know it when i see it.

Very nice question !! I'm answering as a physicist, the answer is that there is no different in fact, because the physics is called the in past the mathematics of the nature, and in this century we see that mathematics has become bigger and bigger and reached a very giant levels, thats why they spreaded them into 2 parts named physics and mathematics,

and if you can observe this, every physics scientist is a mathematics scientist also, like Gauss, Airy, Fresnel, ... and too many others, while you can't see or in little cases that chemistry people aren't friends with maths or physics, and the one who hate mathematics will hate also physics

AND TAKE THIS FOR NOTE, THE PHYSICIST WHO HATE OR DON'T LIKE MATHEMATICS IS A LOOOOOOSER, AND CAN DO NOTHING WITH HIS SCIENCE :P thanks for reading my nonsense :P:P:P:P

matt grime
Homework Helper
I must protest, as a mathematician, that not all physicists are mathematicians. Using a subject does not make one a student or researcher of it. Frequently the need to distinguish between the two is unhelpful, and do not forget that we have the handy phrase mathematical physics. Is someone looking at open-closed conformal field theories doing maths or physics?

But someone who experiments with, say, semiconductors is not in general attempting to prove anything about mathematics, nor contribute to the study of mathematics as a subject.

what is "the study of mathematics"?

I guess that mathematical ideas is just the study of relationships between numbers ,shapes, etc and does not nesessary go about to explain the physical world.

where as physics just use math as tools that seem to fit and predict outcomes of the physical world

where do these "numbers ,shapes, etc" come from?

i guess they are abstrations of the physical world, like for example, i don't think it is possible to physically create a flawless circle but on an imaginary plane you can; and there is no such thing as an infinte plane in the world but math allows it to do geometry on and find proofs

by imagining this plane, have i not created it?

I do not believe that any bits of my brain is out of this world.

matt grime
Homework Helper
The study of mathematics is, self referentially, what mathematicians do. I did say there was no nice simple answer.

cepheid said:
Ummm...no. Physical theories are formulated mathematically to describe the physical world. That doesn't mean that anything has been "proved" about physics though. If they are good theories, then they should be predictive, i.e. one should be able to go out and do an experiment that may or may not bear out the predictions of the theory. If it does, then that lends credence to the theory. On the other hand, if it the experimental results are inconsistent with the theoretical predictions, the theory is scrapped, even though it was mathematically correct and self-consistent. I hope that this illustrates the difference between science and mathematics.
Sorry,the use of "proved" that was more word choice then anything else. It was a horrible one though.

Newton is an interesting case. I had a professor once who refused to consider him a mathematician since he, "Was only interested in Physics."

He seemed to have invented quite a bit of math and held the chair of mathematics at Cambridge. It was Leibniz, who said, "Taking mathematics from the beginning of the world to the time when Newton lived, what he did was much the better half."

Yet it is true that he did not publish in pure math, and often ignored in math books.

This may have bearing on what is being discussed in this thread.

D H
Staff Emeritus
Many physicists are directly involved with making weapons of war. Those who are not making weapons know that their developments may well be used to create new weapons in their lifetime. Physicists in general do not have a problem with this.

Mathematicians, on the other hand, are rarely involved with making weapons. They do know that what they create might well be used to make weaponry. This bothers the heck out of them even though this probably will not happen until long after they die.

DH" Mathematicians, on the other hand, are rarely involved with making weapons.

I don't know exactly how true this is. There have been plenty of people with math degrees who have worked on weapons. (Then there is the area of cryptology, which prefers mathematicians.) On the most creative level, no. Research in math is impractical and removed from the finished product in many cases. The military prefers engineers for most of it.

There is the case of Norbert Weiner. He is supposed to have developed the "heavy math" involved in the InterContinental Ballistic Missile, if I remember right. But no one makes a point of that today. Weiner says this:

One of the chief duties of the mathematician in acting as an adviser to scientists is to discourage them from expecting too much from mathematics. http://www-groups.dcs.st-and.ac.uk/~history/Mathematicians/Wiener_Norbert.html