1. Limited time only! Sign up for a free 30min personal tutor trial with Chegg Tutors
    Dismiss Notice
Dismiss Notice
Join Physics Forums Today!
The friendliest, high quality science and math community on the planet! Everyone who loves science is here!

Should I take Matlab for Physics ?

  1. Nov 25, 2013 #1
    Should I take "Matlab for Physics"?

    So this is one of those questions...

    Next semester my Physics department is offering a special course "Matlab for Physics". It's being taught by a well known and respected professor so I'm doubly sure the content covered will be relevant to research in Physics. The part that I'm unsure about is that my schedule is slightly packed and this class would probably take the place of Quantum Mechanics II.

    I plan on going to graduate school for Materials Science so QM II would definitely be useful I think. On the other hand I haven't had much experience in programming or numerical software (I took a course in C++ years ago and have used it off and on since then). My schedule with this course would be:

    Spanish 4 (required for degree) = 4 cr. hr.
    Modern Optics w/ lab (required) = 4 cr. hr.
    Matlab for Physics *or* Quantum Mechanics II = 3 or 4 cr. hr. respectively
    Physics Research = 2-4 cr. hr.

    So assuming I take 4 cr. hr. for research, my total would be 15 with Matlab or 16 with QM. I could risk taking both for 19 cr. hr. but I'm not sure how comfortable I am with that. If that looks like the best option then please still say so as nothing is final.

    Any opinion on this would be greatly appreciated!
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited: Nov 25, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 25, 2013 #2
    Upon reviewing the requirements for a Materials Science PhD (only look at UCLA and UWash@Seattle so far), general quantum mechanics doesn't seem to be a major component. Because of this, is it safe to assume that taking QM II would, while not a waste, be less valuable than the Matlab course?
  4. Nov 25, 2013 #3


    Staff: Mentor

    IMO, the Matlab course would be a good investment of your time and efforts.
  5. Nov 25, 2013 #4


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    I agree with Mark.
  6. Nov 25, 2013 #5
    I also agree. Matlab is a practical skill that will be far more useful than studying quantum mechanics in almost all endeavors.
  7. Nov 26, 2013 #6


    User Avatar
    Science Advisor

    I'd like to second the previous opinions, too. Basic computing skills are extremely valuable, and taking the Matlab course might even be the better choice if you actually *are* focusing on advanced QM later on.
  8. Nov 26, 2013 #7
    If you've never done any programming then it will be very useful. Otherwise just I'd say teach yourself. It's a very straight forward language designed to make it easy to work with matrices etc.

    Here some more info:
  9. Nov 26, 2013 #8


    User Avatar
    Education Advisor
    Gold Member

    There is more benefit in this MatLab class than simply learning MatLab.

    It's being taught by the physics department, which is interesting (to me anyway, I took it in the engineering department). So technically, while he’s learning MatLab, he will also - hopefully - be learning/reinforcing the physics he has learned.

    I think this has weighed in on people's recommendations here.
  10. Nov 26, 2013 #9
    Thanks for all the input. Yeah the requirements for the course are upper level mechanics and the first upper level EM course so I would assume there would be a reinforcement of things learned in those classes.

    Here's a brief description of the class from a flyer.

    MatLab for Physics:

    Physics with displays and
    animations, not formulas

    Movies of system dynamics with
    real time (cyclotron ex.)

    Hands on student involvement

    Mechanics (441) and
    Electromagnetism (401) or
    equivalent completed or
Share this great discussion with others via Reddit, Google+, Twitter, or Facebook