Double B.S.

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Happy Quark
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Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Wed Apr 22, 2009 9:49 pm

I've spent a lot of time reading through the forum but it looks like this will be my first post. I've seen quite a few people asking about the degree of importance of the GRE in relation to ones GPA. However, one question I haven't seen answer, I would appreciate it if you could direct me to the thread if this has already been answered, is whether a graduate admissions committee places any interest in those applicants who have completed more than one degree. I will have my bachelors in physics completed in about 2 weeks (provided I don't fail any of my finals). My final GPA should be around 3.55-3.65. It will only take me one additional semester to complete a second bachelors in mathematics and I am curious as to whether it would be worth it to spend the time and money doing this. I suppose the crux of my question is whether a good GRE score in conjunction with a second degree in mathematics will be sufficient to override my less than impressive GPA.

nathan12343
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby nathan12343 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 1:49 am

You're GPA might not be perfect, but it's by no means terrible.

Couple it with good letters, research experience, and yes, a good GRE score, you'll get into some good schools. A double major in math is weighed significantly less than letters, research, and GRE scores. Also, keep in mind that most school only accept applications in the fall. If you take another semester to graduate, you will have to wait another year before you can even apply. This might be a good idea, though, since it will give you time to study for the GRE.

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Thu Apr 23, 2009 5:52 pm

If that is true then I guess my initial thoughts were very backwards. I have spoken to my professor on the topic, and he conveyed the feeling that most graduate schools aren't particularly concerned with GRE scores because a portion of correct answers can be found using unit analysis and back of the envelope calculations to check the most probable degree of an answer. That isn't to say either of those skills aren't beneficial but it was my understanding that much if not all of modern particle theory, quantum theory etc. was phrased in the language of group theory. It seems to me that having had courses with rigorous examination of groups, fields, rings etc would be more beneficial for an incoming grad student than the ability to trouble shoot a multiple choice test.

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WontonBurritoMeals
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby WontonBurritoMeals » Thu Apr 23, 2009 6:23 pm

it was my understanding that much if not all of modern particle theory, quantum theory etc. was phrased in the language of group theory.


No. Do all of your professors know group theory? Probably only two of the professors at my school have ever had a course that mentioned group theory. Look at some more advanced physics texts and research papers. The most important things will certainly be things in the Physics cirriculum.

That said, I love algebra, combinatorics, and all of that ***.

I was talking with a group of grad. students once, and I told them that on my vacations I usually study math texts and am double majoring and he just looked at me like I was a moron and said: But that won't help you get into grad. school.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:11 pm

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:
it was my understanding that much if not all of modern particle theory, quantum theory etc. was phrased in the language of group theory.


No. Do all of your professors know group theory? Probably only two of the professors at my school have ever had a course that mentioned group theory. Look at some more advanced physics texts and research papers. The most important things will certainly be things in the Physics cirriculum.


Most of my professors are pretty well versed in group theory and none of them specialize in quantum mechanics or particle physics. The two professors which I have ultimately had all of my physics courses from involves one specialization in optics and one in computer modeling of neural networking. With all that said, my original intent of the statement about the theories being, "phrased in the language of group theory" was that it was my understanding that on the cutting edge of these fields the mathematics is being described in a lot of group theory because it describes relationships, symmetries and invariances in greater and more fundamental detail.

WontonBurritoMeals wrote:That said, I love algebra, combinatorics, and all of that ***.

I was talking with a group of grad. students once, and I told them that on my vacations I usually study math texts and am double majoring and he just looked at me like I was a moron and said: But that won't help you get into grad. school.

May the wind be always at your back,
-WontonBurritoMeals


I suppose it is unfortunate that I am just realizing this in my last week of my undergrad career. Thanks for the help.

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dlenmn
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby dlenmn » Thu Apr 23, 2009 7:14 pm

If you're doing string theory or the likes, then maybe having been exposed to a "rigorous examination of groups, fields, rings etc" would be useful. Otherwise, physicists do what they usually do to mathematics -- use bits and pieces when it's useful. You can just pick it up as you go along. A group is not a terribly complex thing after all. I took a modern algebra class because I thought it was interesting. It's been overkill for the one time I've seen it come up so far (in solid state). Maybe the deal is different in particle, but not from what I've heard/seen (e.g this).

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Thu Apr 23, 2009 9:25 pm

dlenmn wrote:If you're doing string theory or the likes, then maybe having been exposed to a "rigorous examination of groups, fields, rings etc" would be useful. Otherwise, physicists do what they usually do to mathematics -- use bits and pieces when it's useful. You can just pick it up as you go along. A group is not a terribly complex thing after all. I took a modern algebra class because I thought it was interesting. It's been overkill for the one time I've seen it come up so far (in solid state). Maybe the deal is different in particle, but not from what I've heard/seen (e.g this).


in my E&M course we were asked by the professor to pick a topic to learn thoroughly enough to give a presentation on. I ended up choosing the topic of gauge invariance.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Gauge_theory

"In physics, gauge theory is a physical theory in which the Lagrangian is invariant under a certain continuous group of transformations.

The transformations (called gauge transformations) form a Lie group which is referred to as the symmetry group or the gauge group of the theory. Associated with a Lie group is a Lie Algebra. A Lie Algebra is also a vector space which is spanned by a set of generators. These generators (and hence the algebra) are said to generate the group. For each group generator there is a corresponding vector field called gauge field which are part of the Lagrangian and ensure its invariance. When such a theory is quantized, the quanta associated with the gauge fields are called gauge bosons.

If the symmetry group is non-commutative, the gauge theory is referred to as non-abelian or Yang-Mills theory.

Quantum electrodynamics is an abelian gauge theory with the symmetry group U(1) and has one gauge field, the electromagnetic field, with the photon being the gauge boson.

The standard model is a non-abelian gauge theory with the symmetry group U(1)×SU(2)×SU(3) and has a total of twelve gauge bosons: the photon, three weak bosons, Z0, W + and W − ; and eight gluons."

It is wikipedia so it must be taken with a grain of salt but it seems from this, and from a good number of other sources I have seen, that group theory makes up much of the very foundation of many fields within physics.

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dlenmn
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby dlenmn » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:12 pm

No one is arguing that many parts of physics can't be cast in to the language of group theory. What is being questioned is whether you need to take a course in modern algebra. I think the answer is no -- to the extent you need it you can pick it up as you go along.


I would also question how useful this stuff is for what you're going to be doing. Will knowing what that said really give you insight in to how E&M works? Perhaps (although I have doubts). Will it help you on your Jackson problem set. I don't think so.

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:25 pm

dlenmn wrote:No one is arguing that many parts of physics can't be cast in to the language of group theory. What is being questioned is whether you need to take a course in modern algebra. I think the answer is no -- to the extent you need it you can pick it up as you go along.


I would also question how useful this stuff is for what you're going to be doing. Will knowing what that said really give you insight in to how E&M works? Perhaps (although I have doubts). Will it help you on your Jackson problem set. I don't think so.


I'm not necessarily disagreeing with you when you say that the math won't be of the greatest benefit on, say, a Jackson problem set. More to the point of what I am saying is that I am surprised to learn that having taken courses in Differential Equations II, Linear Algebra II, Advanced Calc, etc. is considered less beneficial than doing well on a multiple choice physics test. I just have to wrap my brain around it.

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dlenmn
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby dlenmn » Thu Apr 23, 2009 10:33 pm

Happy Quark wrote:More to the point of what I am saying is that I am surprised to learn that having taken courses in Differential Equations II, Linear Algebra II, Advanced Calc, etc. is considered less beneficial than doing well on a multiple choice physics test. I just have to wrap my brain around it.


Understood. There's even evidence in another thread that admissions committees don't bother to look at what classes you've taken or the grades in them.

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:31 pm

dlenmn wrote:
Happy Quark wrote:More to the point of what I am saying is that I am surprised to learn that having taken courses in Differential Equations II, Linear Algebra II, Advanced Calc, etc. is considered less beneficial than doing well on a multiple choice physics test. I just have to wrap my brain around it.


Understood. There's even evidence in another thread that admissions committees don't bother to look at what classes you've taken or the grades in them.


That is really surprising. Well I suppose I will finish that extra semester at least so that I can say that I did it. It seems a little silly to be so close and not take advantage of the situation.

Another question which just occurred to me is this idea of benefits in research. I haven't really had any significant research experience that would set me apart from any other grad applicants (e.g. a publication). However, in finishing my math degree I will most likely opt for a "directed study" with one of my professors which I suppose will give me the chance to get some research experience and possibly even do something worth publishing. If this were to occur but was done in the field of mathematics, would those reviewing my application likely disregard the research as being irrelevant to physics or would it be viewed as research experience, therefore beneficial?

nathan12343
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby nathan12343 » Thu Apr 23, 2009 11:40 pm

If you make it clear that you want to go into theory, then a math publication will probably help you. Have you considered graduate studies in math at a department that has strong ties to theoretical physics? This is possible and you might fit in better given your experiences and proclivities.

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Happy Quark
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Re: Double B.S.

Postby Happy Quark » Fri Apr 24, 2009 12:25 am

nathan12343 wrote:If you make it clear that you want to go into theory, then a math publication will probably help you. Have you considered graduate studies in math at a department that has strong ties to theoretical physics? This is possible and you might fit in better given your experiences and proclivities.


I have considered applying as something an applied mathematician or something like theoretical particle physics. Perhaps that would be the best road to go down so as to play off my math background.




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