Which major to compliment physics degree? Applied or pure math?

In summary, the conversation revolves around a student's dilemma of choosing between Mathematics and Applied Mathematics as they plan to pursue a double degree in theoretical physics. The participants discuss the relevance of each branch of math to physics and suggest exploring other subjects to broaden their knowledge. It is concluded that Applied Math would be the better choice for direct applicability in physics. However, attending classes from both subjects may not be feasible due to overlapping core units.
  • #1
dadede
2
0
Hi. I'm entering university this year and planning to do a double degree. My chief aim would be theoretical physics.

I'm facing the dilemma that my university's math department offers Mathematics and Applied Mathematics. Since I hope that my second degree would compliment and strengthen my knowledge in physics, which branch of math should I register myself to?

I have heard that applied math related to physics more closely compared to this "pure" math, which is quite unrelated to theoretical physics. Or is that pure math related to physics in an indirect but still profound way so eventually it can helps my physics?


Thanks in advance.
 
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  • #2
Would you be interested in a 2nd degree in the Humanities or Liberal Arts? Since your chief aim is to work as a theoretical physicist, sooner or later you will learn as much math as you care to learn. Why not take this opportunity to delve into a completely different subject to widen your intellectual horizons?
 
  • #3
Mathnomalous: Generally Physics classes will not teach the corresponding Mathematics required, yet take it as assumed knowledge, so if he did another subject altogether, he would have the extra work of learning the mathematics on his own, which I would imagine would stretch his timetabling abilities =)

dadede: Welcome to Physics Forums. Are you sure there's no way you can't take classes from both areas? Or perhaps by signing up to the applied mathematics faculty, inside their degree you can also do the areas of pure maths that have some physical applications?

You will definitely want to pick Applied Math if you are looking at direct applicability for Physics. Pure maths has applications in Physics, I can think of Complex Analysis as an example, but this occurs more frequently in Graduate level or above.
 
  • #4
Gib Z said:
Mathnomalous: Generally Physics classes will not teach the corresponding Mathematics required, yet take it as assumed knowledge, so if he did another subject altogether, he would have the extra work of learning the mathematics on his own, which I would imagine would stretch his timetabling abilities =)

dadede: Welcome to Physics Forums. Are you sure there's no way you can't take classes from both areas? Or perhaps by signing up to the applied mathematics faculty, inside their degree you can also do the areas of pure maths that have some physical applications?

You will definitely want to pick Applied Math if you are looking at direct applicability for Physics. Pure maths has applications in Physics, I can think of Complex Analysis as an example, but this occurs more frequently in Graduate level or above.

Thanks Mathnomalous and Gib Z. I have checked it out. Mathematics and applied math offered by my university are not mutually exclusive, meaning there have certain core units that are overlapped. But there are still differences... and attending classes offered by both subject would be rather impossible since it would be too tiresome.

I'm planning to take up applied math, since most probably it would serve me well in my physics pursuit. ( but then, some minor part of the aspects in applied math can be as irrelevant to physics as pure math...)
 
  • #5


I can understand your dilemma in choosing which branch of math to pursue alongside your physics degree. Both applied and pure math have their own unique benefits and can complement your studies in different ways. Ultimately, the decision should be based on your personal interests and career goals.

Applied math is more directly related to physics as it focuses on practical applications and problem-solving techniques. It can provide you with the necessary mathematical tools to tackle real-world problems in physics. On the other hand, pure math is more theoretical and abstract, but it can also have a profound impact on physics through its fundamental principles and concepts.

In my opinion, both branches of math can be beneficial for a theoretical physics degree. It really depends on what specific topics within physics interest you the most. If you are more interested in the practical applications and real-world problems, then applied math may be the better choice. However, if you are fascinated by the underlying principles and theories of physics, then pure math can provide a deeper understanding and appreciation for the subject.

I would recommend exploring both branches of math and speaking with your academic advisor to determine which courses align best with your interests and career goals. Additionally, consider taking courses in both branches to gain a well-rounded understanding of math and how it applies to physics. Whichever branch you choose, both applied and pure math will undoubtedly enhance your understanding and skills in theoretical physics. Good luck in your studies!
 

1. Should I choose a major in applied or pure math to compliment my physics degree?

This is a common question for students pursuing a physics degree who are interested in incorporating mathematics into their studies. The answer ultimately depends on your specific interests and career goals.

2. What is the difference between applied and pure math?

Applied math involves using mathematical concepts and methods to solve real-world problems, while pure math focuses on theoretical concepts and abstract reasoning. Both can be useful in a physics career, but applied math may be more directly relevant to practical applications.

3. Will I need a strong background in both applied and pure math for a physics career?

While having a strong foundation in both applied and pure math can be beneficial, it is not always necessary. Depending on your specific career path, you may find that one type of math is more useful than the other. However, having a well-rounded understanding of both can make you a more versatile and competitive candidate.

4. Are there any specific courses I should take in applied or pure math to compliment my physics degree?

It is recommended to consult with your academic advisor to determine which courses would best fit your interests and career goals. However, some common courses that students pursuing a physics degree may find useful include differential equations, mathematical methods in physics, and computational physics.

5. Can I switch from an applied math major to a pure math major (or vice versa) during my studies?

It is usually possible to switch majors within the same department during your studies. However, keep in mind that this may require fulfilling additional course requirements and may affect your graduation timeline. It is best to discuss this decision with your academic advisor to determine the best path for you.

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