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Thermodynamics vs Algorithms

  1. Aug 4, 2007 #1

    I'm a sophomore in Electrical Engineering. This semester I have to choose between a course on Thermodynamics and a course on Data Structures and Algorithms. I have a deep interest in physics and thermodynamics seems quite interesting to me. But I am also interested in quantum computing, which seems to have some overlap with algorithms and complexity theory. Which course should I take?

    Thanks for your help.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 4, 2007 #2


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    Hi maverick,

    Which department is offering the thermodynamics course? And do you know the contents of the course?

    Because they can vary quite a bit. For example, the Mech/Aero department could focus more on applications in IC engines, compressors, pumps and flow processes while a Chem/Materials Eng department would focus on applications in reactors, phase equilibria, solution thermodynamics and reactions.
  4. Aug 4, 2007 #3


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    and the physics departement could be too much theoretical for you. (-:
  5. Aug 4, 2007 #4
    Are the classes prerequisities for anything else you want to take? If both the courses are equally attractive you might just pick whichever one has the bettter teacher.
  6. Aug 5, 2007 #5
    The Thermodynamics course is a general engineering course (it is a not a very advanced course). There is no department per se--it can be taught by faculty from mechanical or chemical engineering (maybe also aerospace engineering). There are no prerequisites for it other than those that I have already satisfied, and this holds for the algorithms course as well. And yes, I know the contents, but the issue is of relevance: while I like thermodynamics and enjoy studying it considering its proximity to physics, it does not seem to be as relevant to EE as perhaps algorithms is (even though algorithms is being offered by CS and not my own dept.)--esp when I think of something like QC or signal analysis.
    Last edited: Aug 5, 2007
  7. Aug 7, 2007 #6
    It really depends on what your career interests are. Both courses can definitely be useful depending on what area of EE you want to work in.
  8. Aug 8, 2007 #7
    if you've never taken algorithms before you should take it now...it'll help you along your undergraduate years if you intend to code further....

    Thermo you could probably pick up the year your graduating or learn on your own...do you have any electives....or better yet ask your chair if thermo is required for any advanced courses you see yourself taking in the last 2 years.

    Anyone who ever codes should atleast have some knowledge of algorithms/datastructures...you could learn it on your own...but if you plan to use it in your later undergraduate years i don't see you haveing the time to.
  9. Aug 8, 2007 #8
    Thanks everyone, I have taken up algorithms. I hope to be able to take Thermal Physics and/or StatMech at a later stage.
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