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Who is better at Math, a physicist or a mathematician?

  1. Oct 29, 2016 #1
    Who is better in Math?

    I was told that a physicist may be a good autodidact mathematician, but a mathematician may be a mediocre autodidact physicist.
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  3. Oct 29, 2016 #2
    Most physicists who teach themselves pure mathematics are mathematicians at heart, i.e. they have the mindset and the taste for mathematical rigour that is required for high level pure math. I suppose it goes the other way around too: a mathematician can have a taste and mindset for physics, and therefore be able to teach it to himself. I think it all comes down to that really, both fields have extremely intelligent and capable people, but their personal preferences are not the same.
    It might be less common for a mathematician to like physics, but I can't say if that's true for sure.
    Last edited: Oct 29, 2016
  4. Oct 30, 2016 #3


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    And both may be mediocre cooks. Or mediocre crooks. Or whatever.

    People are different, so yes, you will probably find examples for every such a statement.
  5. Oct 30, 2016 #4


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    Do not exclude the other disciplines. Some engineers (Kálmán, Luenberger,...) are better at mathematics that some mathematicians will likely ever be.

    Come to think of it, on this forum I go by name of an engineer, although in my mind he is more of an early numerical analyst.
    Last edited: Oct 30, 2016
  6. Nov 1, 2016 #5


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    Ed Witten, ostensibly a physicist, (but a history major in undergrad), won the highest award in mathematics, the Fields medal. Has any mathematician ever won (or deserved) a physics award? (Gauss, Riemann, Archimedes, Arnol'd?)
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