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Should I major in mathematics?

  1. Jun 29, 2010 #1
    Im a 17 year old about to be a freshman in college this fall and over the past several months I've become very interested in physics and math. The college that I'm enrolled in does not have a physics major program but they have several physics classes. I don't really understand why they have the physics classes as I don't think they're needed for any of the school's other majors (then again I don't know much about how colleges work to begin with haha...)

    They do have a math program though and I'm wondering if it would be a good idea to major in math and take physics classes along the way. I would have gone to a school with a physics program however, given my options, my parents wanted me to go to this particular school.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 29, 2010 #2
    Do you find mathematics beautiful?

    If that's an odd question, don't major in math.
     
  4. Jun 29, 2010 #3
    Well, I find math interesting in the way that it can be applied physically.
     
  5. Jun 29, 2010 #4
    You can major in math if you find it elegant, a useful way of thinking, and nice to apply physically. You can do a lot of application without sophisticated math, so understanding the power behind the abstractions should be the goal of the math major.
     
  6. Jun 29, 2010 #5
    I kind of agree here. For me, mathematics is about the abstractness and the beauty and the creativity that it generates. It's best described as a creative outlet, and it is here that I believe it differs from the sciences.
     
  7. Jun 30, 2010 #6
    Yes, I agree. I think mathematicking™ is similar to painting; it's challenging, requires ample imagination, time investment, lots of frustration, and lots of failed attempts. One may have a fuzzy image about how the final product will turn out but it's not set in stone and there's lots of refinement along the way. But at some point, you finally arrive at a beautiful piece of art you can enjoy.
     
  8. Jun 30, 2010 #7
    "Yes, I agree. I think mathematicking™ is similar to painting; it's challenging, requires ample imagination, time investment, lots of frustration, and lots of failed attempts. One may have a fuzzy image about how the final product will turn out but it's not set in stone and there's lots of refinement along the way."

    This sounds a lot more like math *RESEARCH* than a math *MAJOR*. The major involves appreciating the elegance behind abstraction, but I would consider the goals much more concrete and laid out than in the case of producing a work of art with uncertain goals.

    "and the beauty and the creativity that it generates. It's best described as a creative outlet, and it is here that I believe it differs from the sciences."

    It can also just be a very useful perspective-builder which can be healthy to someone who works in highly mathematical science.

    To cody - if you care about very mathematical sciences, e.g. hardcore theoretical physics, I would say math as a major could help a lot. This doesn't mean you have to find math exquisitely beautiful or anything - finding it interesting for the elegance and high level thinking it enriches you with is fine in and of itself.
     
  9. Jun 30, 2010 #8
    Thanks for the input guys. Maybe majoring in math then later going to a different school and getting a degree in physics. The math background would certainly help me.
     
  10. Jun 30, 2010 #9
    That seems like a solid plan of action. Learning the mathematics will definitely give you an edge when studying physics. Good luck with whatever you study.
     
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