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Taking Topology vs. another major for an applied math student

  1. Jun 16, 2012 #1

    I'm an undergraduate who's going to be a senior this coming fall. I'm currently triple majoring in Mathematics/Engineering Physics/Biological Engineering. I'm also looking to enter graduate school in applied mathematics. My schedule for this last year all fits together quite well, except that a required course for the Biological Engineering major conflicts with Topology. I'm now debating dropping the Biological Engineering major just to take Topology.

    My Question is: How important is Topology for someone looking at applied math graduate schools? I'm aiming for high level graduate programs, and am wondering if not having topology on my transcript will be a major setback in applied math, i.e. it would be better to drop the third major. Just so everyone knows, here is the total list of math & related classes that I'll have when I graduate:

    Real Analysis I&II
    Linear Algebra & Abstract Algebra (Both upper level)
    Graduate Real Analysis
    Complex Analysis
    Numerical Analysis I&II
    Differential Geometry
    Nonlinear Dynamics/Chaos
    Mathematical Physics I&II

    Note I'm studying topology on my own currently, So I will hopefully be prepared for Diff. Geometry when I take it. Also, while I haven't take a PDE course formally, I am currently doing a PDE heavy REU that I hope will make up for it. Also, dropping the Biological Engineering major at this point will only make enough room for one more math class in addition to topology.

    Thanks in advance for any opinions, and if anyone else has other advice they'd like to give about my situation I'd be glad to hear it.
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2012 #2
    perhaps i can hazard a guess you're going to UofM? but i'm having some difficulty figuring out what exactly your question is. do you want to take topology because you just want to look good, or do you want to take it because it will be a necessary tool later on when you're doing your own research? if its the former, as you seem to indicate, then no, it will probably not affect your perfect gpa. if its the latter, then again, no, since real analysis II (nonlinear functional analysis for me?) will likely apply more specifically to your analytic goals. if however, it is the skills of set theory and logic, and that of knowing the universe at a deeper level, humm...maybe.
  4. Jun 16, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the response. I go to Cornell. I agree that Functional Analysis is more of what I'll likely be doing in my research. Our Analysis II doesn't include Functional Analysis but it makes up half of the graduate level analysis course.

    I guess the reason I'm posting my question is because of what I've read on this forum and others regarding topology in a pure math curriculum. From what I've read is seems undergraduate topology is pretty much a requirement for pure math, and not having it on your transcripts will raise a red flag with graduate admissions. I'm just wondering how different the view is when it comes to applied math programs. Ultimately, while I have genuine interest in topology, I'd like to be able to finish my biological engineering major as I enjoy the subject and the certification may help me in my future goals. I just want to know I'm not shooting myself in the foot when it comes to graduate school admissions.
    Last edited: Jun 16, 2012
  5. Jun 16, 2012 #4
    i think without group theory and topology, the GRE subject test will be unnecessarily hard. i've looked at UofM's Racknam graduate program, and i find their admissions requirements to be a head stratcher. "Do I have to ace everything, dance my way through multiple community services all the while taking five courses concurrently, AND researched new medicines?" and then suddenly you find you've gotten in for some weird aspect of your personality which nobody pointed out to you.
  6. Jun 16, 2012 #5
    If it were me, I'd study topology on my own. It's a fairly small part of the math GRE. A little bit of topology should be pretty useful to any mathematician.
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