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What can you learn in graduate school?

  1. Mar 15, 2006 #1

    0rthodontist

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    Does it make sense to do a double undergraduate major with math and computer science, or graduate a year earlier with a computer science degree and learn the rest of the math in graduate school?
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Mar 15, 2006 #2
    depends on what you want to do in grad school, whether or not you need the math degree.
     
  4. Mar 15, 2006 #3

    0rthodontist

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    I'll be wanting to study artificial intelligence and neural networks but I also want math that isn't necessarily taught within that field. I will need the math degree in the sense it would be useful, I am just wondering if it might be better to pick up the "math degree" as enrichment courses in grad school.
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
  5. Mar 15, 2006 #4

    When i say 'need the math degree' i'm referring to needing the piece of paper that says B.S., Mathematics on it. If you don't need that, then it doesn't really matter. If you do need/want that, then do it in undergrad and get the double major.
     
  6. Mar 15, 2006 #5

    0rthodontist

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    Naturally that is a factor--a double major will look more impressive than a single major. What I'm asking though is not about that side of the decision, but about what is possible to learn in grad school. Is there space for "side courses" in mathematics while pursuing a computer science graduate degree? Would I have difficulty with getting a graduate degree on time if I also do math courses that are not central to the computer science degree? Would there be any limitations on what courses I could take without being in the math program? Or conversely, would it be a better use of my time to take challenging grad school courses rather than working my way through an undergraduate progression that isn't always rigorous?
     
    Last edited: Mar 15, 2006
  7. Mar 15, 2006 #6
    I am just taking a guess here, but I would think that for your graduate degree, you will learn or be expected to know the level of math that is needed. If you want to take more math, it would not hurt, but at the same time it would not be 100% necessary. Sure it would take longer, but that is your choice. The main issue is that grad school is EXPENSIVE per credit. So if you don't have work paying your way through grad school, you will think twice about taking extra classes for fun that cost 2k EACH:smile:. I would say do what you like the most, if it is CS, you will naturally pick up the necessary math along the way. If you want to learn more math for fun, then take the courses. :smile:
     
  8. Mar 15, 2006 #7

    JasonRox

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    Why not learn the mathematics after your Computer Science work is done?

    You'd have a better idea on what mathematics that would be beneficial to learn, and you might get a job that will pay for you to go to school locally (of course).

    I think you need to try to stick with one thing at a time. Also, why not just major in Computer Science and learn mathematics on your own. That way you don't need to waste your time on mathematics that isn't going to benefit you anyways. You'll have more time to yourself on top of that (that time will be spent learning mathematics of course). Also, learning on your own, I believe you can learn graduate level material in an area your interested in much quickier.

    For example, if I work hard enough, I can start studying Algebraic Topology with a well-rounded background. I say well-rounded background because I can jump in right now, but I won't get much from it. So, if I work hard enough, I should begin around September 2006. That's my third year of undergraduate. If I continue to work hard, I can probably start learning about deeper branches, like Homotopy Theory, of Algebraic Topology within following the year. So, I'll be in 4th year, and by the end of it, I will hopefully have a decent knowledge of Homotopy Theory along with other things. So, basically I will have learned (2nd to 3rd) graduate level material in my 4th year. Isn't that much better than waiting around and relying on the educational system?

    Of course, you need direction when pursuing things. What better plan than here?
     
  9. Mar 15, 2006 #8

    shmoe

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    Paying per course in grad school is not a universal thing. Some programs have a lump sum per term (or school year), irregardless of the number of courses you take, so taking courses is 'free' in a sense.

    Check at whatever schools you plan to go to before making a decision based on this fear.
     
  10. Mar 15, 2006 #9

    JasonRox

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    That kind of makes sense.

    In some books I read, the authors described their experience or the experience of others in graduate school as just showing up for any class and choosing to register later. Not sure if it is a lump sum thing, but if you freely show up to any class, I'd assume it to be "free".
     
  11. Mar 15, 2006 #10
    if you can stick around for that extra year do some projects(in neural nets)...thats if you plan to go to grad school right after...

    if your going to go job hunting first than like the above you cna learn the math on your own.
     
  12. Mar 16, 2006 #11

    0rthodontist

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    This math is not just for fun and I have a good idea of what general directions I want to go in. At the school I am in I basically have satisfied all the "general" math courses, partly because they are also required for computer science, and now I can pick from one of several concentrations and have a few courses extra that I may use for physics (if I take the extra year). I'd probably choose the applied or statistics concentration.

    For job hunting there is no question that I'd rather have the math degree. A double major looks great on a resume and it opens the door to actuarial science. This is really about grad school.

    Since I'm in the honors college at my school I'm probably going to do a project in neural nets anyway because a senior project is a requirement for graduation in the college.
     
  13. Mar 16, 2006 #12

    ZapperZ

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    A few things to consider:

    1. If you are paying your own way through grad school, you can take whatever courses you want.

    2. However, if the school is paying for it, there are limits to what courses they will pay for. If it is something out of the curriculum of what it required for the degree they're paying for, then you will have to pay the "extra" courses out of your own pocket. In top tier schools, this can be considerable.

    4. There's a good chance that if you're taking these extra classes along with pursuing your graduate degree, then these classes also affect your overall grades/GPA/academic standings. This is something you should seriously consider since in most schools, a grade of less than a B is considered to be a failure. It is why graduate students do not take that many courses per semester. Besides they have plenty of individual research work to do, so who has the time?

    Zz.
     
  14. Mar 16, 2006 #13

    shmoe

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    Attending class for a few weeks before registering in it is common too. This is not really related to payment, but gives a chance to sample courses before commiting. Class size is usually less of a problem in grad school and they will make space for whoever is interested so there's not really a need to register and reserve a spot like undergrad classes. They might not even care if the people showing up aren't registered anyway. This is from a math perspective, math students don't take up much space. It might be different if the course has a limited number of lab equipment available, or the students are better nourished.

    The lump sum, I mean you pay say $X per year in 'tuition', and this is completely independant on the number of classes you take, the phd student taking 3 or 4 classes to fullfill requirements is paying the same as the final year one who is taking none.

    Again, this can all vary by institution.
     
  15. Mar 16, 2006 #14

    JasonRox

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    No, I mean showing up for class for atleast half a term then changing your mind. That's a little late for getting your money back.
     
  16. Mar 21, 2006 #15

    0rthodontist

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    It turns out that I am actually closer to getting a math degree than I am to getting a computer science degree--three more courses to five, disregarding general education requirements. I can do a double major in cs and in math with a computing concentration without taking any courses beyond the remaining computer science courses (three of the five of those remaining in cs are actually math, or electives that can be math).

    So the piece of paper with the math degree is no object. I can get it without doing any extra time. It's about the course content.

    Specifically, I want to learn statistics and information theory thoroughly, and have a strong basic background in the usual undergraduate math subjects--I want to have the knowledge required to ace the GRE math, though if I don't do the math as an undergraduate I won't necessarily actually take that test. Can this learning be done in computer science graduate school?
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2006
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