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Courses Should I take Graduate Quantum 2 or Many Body Physics?

  1. Nov 7, 2017 #1
    I'll (hopefully) be starting a PhD program in hard condensed matter theory in fall 2018, and need to decide which courses to take this spring. I'm currently in the first semester of graduate quantum mechanics and would like to take the second semester (which covers relativistic qm, second quantization, and QED mostly), but it's being offered at the same time as many body physics, which I also want to take since it is relevant to my research interests.

    My concerns are that having taken many body physics would make it easier for me to get hired by a theory group as a grad student, but that I may lack some of the formal prerequisites for the course by skipping regular quantum mechanics. Nevertheless, I have some experience in the subject matter from outside reading and feel prepared to take it. Any advice you could give would be much appreciated.
     
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  3. Nov 7, 2017 #2

    ZapperZ

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    Have you run this by your Advisor?

    Zz.
     
  4. Nov 7, 2017 #3
    I did (he’s actually the one teaching many body physics), and he gave me a lot of factors to consider, saying it’s ultimately up to me but that as long as I feel prepared for the course it would probably be worth taking. I’m still conflicted about it and hoping for some additional perspectives.
     
  5. Nov 7, 2017 #4

    ZapperZ

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    How about finishing your 2nd semester of graduate level QM (since it covers 2nd quantization and it is something useful in many-body physics once you get to using Feynman diagrams), and then take many-body physics when you start graduate school?

    Zz.
     
  6. Nov 7, 2017 #5
    That’s what I’m leaning towards, but I’m anxious about starting grad school without a strong background in many body techniques, considering I’ll be competing with lots of students with similar backgrounds for a limited number of research positions. Thanks for your input!
     
  7. Nov 7, 2017 #6

    ZapperZ

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    Where exactly will you be going to school?

    Most undergraduate students here in the US are not expected to know many-body physics when they enter graduate school. In fact, they are usually expected to pass their qualifying exam first before they are even considered for research positions.

    Zz.
     
  8. Nov 7, 2017 #7
    I’m still in the process of applying, but I’m hoping to attend one of the top ten places in condensed matter, particularly MIT, Stanford, or UIUC. I’m domestic if that’s relevant.
     
  9. Nov 7, 2017 #8

    ZapperZ

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    Then there's really no reason for you to be in such a hurry. If you are doing well and can take the graduate level QM class, then finish it. You will have more than enough opportunity to do many-body physics when you get to grad school and still have the opportunity to do research work.

    You're worrying about all this way too early. You still have to get through the qualifier.

    Zz.
     
  10. Nov 7, 2017 #9
    Great, that’s what I needed to hear. Thanks!
     
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