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I've had the privilege over the past 3-4 years to do both physics and math research. I'm considering both for a career, and would like to know if my experience is the norm. My physics research is in QFT (mostly modelling the pair-creation process), and math research is in graph theory (finding triangle-free Euler tours in a metric crapton of special cases).

In my experience, physics research relies mainly on ability whereas math research requires more intelligence.

I've really excelled in physics research (at least at an undergrad level) because I'm dedicated to my work. Learning physics, math, and programming and being able to apply them is what it all boils down to. If you don't know something, look it up. It's hard, but your success is dependent on time and effort.

In math (maybe this is particular to graph theory), it requires intelligence. Problem-solving techniques are useful, but don't get you all that far. You need to be able to look at a problem, and deduce a method to solve it which you haven't used in any prior problems before.

Again, my question is this: is my experience typical of math and physics research? As your field increases in "purity" (i.e., chemistry -> physics -> math), does research rely more on intelligence than brute-force effort?