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Why physics and chemistry for computer science?

  1. Dec 16, 2013 #1
    In my country, entrance exams for colleges include topics in physics, chemistry and math. For someone who takes computer science as his branch, why is the student being tested in physics and chemistry?
    Being knowledgeable in physics and chemistry is useless if someone takes computer science, isn't it?
  2. jcsd
  3. Dec 16, 2013 #2


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    Staff: Mentor

    Is it obligatory to be tested on all three, or are these to choose from?
  4. Dec 16, 2013 #3
    We don't get to choose from. We are tested on all three i.e. physics, math and chemistry. Based on the score, people get the better colleges and choice of branches. It's a trend that the top ranked students choose computer science branch.
  5. Dec 16, 2013 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    Were you taught all three at school?
  6. Dec 16, 2013 #5


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    Homework Helper

    It shows you can deal with "hard science" subjects, and you can handle the workload of 3 subjects.

    Some knowledge of physics is definitely useful if your computer science course has anything to do with computer hardware, but maybe it's not so clear what chemistry would be useful for (unless you REALLY get into computer hardware, like designing chips using new semiconductor materials like grapheme....)

    But the real answer is probably that education systems aren't logical. You have to learn (1) how to follow instructions that seem stupid, and (2) how to handle stuff that you don't like or are not very interested in. Both those skills will come in very useful in real life, after you leave college :smile:
  7. Dec 17, 2013 #6
    Why do you need to learn history, languages, politics and literature?

    No one wants a person who only knows a lot about one thing and nothing about everything else.
  8. Dec 17, 2013 #7
    Physics actually has some direct uses in computer science, I am not as sure about chemistry though. Some uses I can think of for physics are collision detection, physics, etc. in graphics programming and game development. In fact graphics theory uses a lot of physics, especially optics.
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2013
  9. Dec 18, 2013 #8
    I'm not against teaching physics, chemistry and history, languages etc.
    Of course all subjects should be taught in school, that's what school is for (well one of the reasons).

    I was just thinking about the exam system and testing students on physics, chemistry and math for a computer science course does not seem a good idea.
    There might be people who are brilliant with computers but couldn't obtain a good score because it doesn't test what they are good at.
  10. Dec 18, 2013 #9
    That is why they offer degrees in software engineering, and computer information systems. People who do not want to take math intensive studies and hard sciences probably should not study computer science. Most people have no idea what is meant by computer science, it is not simply programming it is actually very mathematical and science based.
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2013
  11. Dec 18, 2013 #10
    As someone who works in R&D at a computer manufacturer, studied computer science at school, and actually gets paid to code I can assure you it is because you need to. Academia's obligation is to produce thinkers. That's why the highest degree they offer is titled as "Philosopher". Requiring students to take physics, chemistry, and math beyond what's required for their major coursework will expose students to problem solving skills they wouldn't develop via their major coursework alone. And further more, programming is not independent of the hardware. You don't have relevant skills if you claim you "know programming language X" but don't know what effect is has on the machine at the assembler, linker, and architecture level. And an primary understanding of electromagnetism and circuits is the required base for this. Those who fall into this category don't know ****, just syntax.

    So what can you contribute vocationally without exposure to your mentioned fields? Perhaps you'll be cataloging to world's data at Facebook or Google and wont be using any discrete math? Will Dell hire a Thermal Test Engineer who has no clue about thermodynamics? I wonder which Firmware Test Engineer's don't know Ohm's Law from the Pythagorean Theorem. If you get A+ certification and become a PC repair tech you wont have to take those classes, but you will still have to think and know a little about Physics.
  12. Dec 18, 2013 #11
    The first electronic digital computer was invented by a physics professor if I remember correctly. I recall reading something like that in one of my classes this past semester.
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