Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

shahensha
Posts: 2
Joined: Sat Jul 24, 2010 1:49 pm

Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby shahensha » Mon Aug 02, 2010 10:02 am

Throughout my high school i loved physics very very much. I always wanted to a PhD in physics. Along with i thought of pursuing space science. But due certain reasons i ended up in Computer Science. I have started with the third year of my bachelors degree. I don't hate computer Science, it's just that i loved physics a lot(I dunno about now, maybe yes even now and that's the reason i am nostalgic). Suddenly i have become nostalgic about physics. And i was thinking whether it is advisable to chose physics for my MS. So my questions are as follows:-

Are there research areas (I have always wanted to do research) which combine Physics and Computer Science? If Yes, what should i do to get into it? I am doing Bachelors from India and i don't mind doing MS from the US (as in US they allow to change your branch in MS, it is not allowed in india)

What should be my strategy to get into a research career which involves both physics and Computer Science? (Right now I am in the third year of a 4 year Bachelors Course in Information Technology). I want to do a PhD.

Will there be future research career options in the combined field of Physics and Computer Science?

Following are certain points i would want to stress out:-

1)I talked to some of my friends who are good coders and they suggested me to get into making apps that simulate certain physics fundae. But that is not what i want. I would want to stress again that i liked actual physics. So i don't think i would enjoy just simulating stuff. I am more of a research kinda guy not an application oriented person.

2)Once again i want to stress that it is not at all that i hate computer science or i consider it bad. It's just that i want to do what i loved more and rather than completely changing my stream (which is difficult as well as risky and above all makes me guilty conscious as i would waste four whole years), i want to strike a balance between what i want and what i have.

3)Anything which would allow to me study Computer Science with Physics or Space Technology with a decent research career later on in it is what i want.

4)Just to give you all an idea of what exactly i loved in physics... We did not have advanced physics in high school, but i managed to do stuff on my own to a fair extent. I loved mechanics, electrostatics, relativity, fluid, thermodynamics and such stuff and i enjoyed solving the 'very tough' category of problems (for instance books by I.E.Irodov and another one by Krotov)


Added later: this sounds a good option as in to do Masters in CS (with as many physics related electives as there can be..if there are) and trying to get a job which we will allow me to do sum research in physics as well... is this possible? I really liked you line "Just because you're writing code doesn't mean you're not doing "real physics.""... So you mean to say that i can be in touch with real-physics even if i do a masters in CS??

User avatar
zxcv
Posts: 402
Joined: Mon Dec 17, 2007 11:08 pm

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby zxcv » Tue Aug 03, 2010 12:44 pm

Yes, there are absolutely research areas which combine computer science and physics. A very large portion of physics research involves computer science, even if only at the level of requiring programming. The field of computational physics is not just about applications -- it's about developing techniques and programs to understand new physical laws.

Still, if you want to do physics research using computer science, you will need to be in a physics program. The only exception I can think of is quantum computing, which is also of interest to theoretical computer scientists. It is certainly possible in principle for you to get an MS or PhD in physics in the US, but gaining admission to such a program would almost assuredly be quite difficult without any prior coursework in physics. You're going to need to figure out some way to get experience of some sort in physics before this becomes a viable option.

It's quite possible that you could do physics or scientific programming focused applications with a computer science degree, but you would probably not be qualified with a masters in CS to do physics research. You could build tools for physicists, but you would likely not be discovering the new physics yourself, because it is extremely rare for someone to have new insights about physics without the experience from a degree.

User avatar
YodaT
Posts: 102
Joined: Mon May 10, 2010 2:01 am

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby YodaT » Mon Aug 16, 2010 7:38 am

I know how it feels to develop intense interest in other fields, when you've pretty much settled in another. My experience is pretty much the inverse of your experience. I decided on physics upon entering college, not because I was particularly great at it, but just because it was one of the few things I actually understood in school (I took my first physics course sophomore year of high school and advanced to subsequent levels in physics after each year). I didn't have a computer until my first year in college, and decided to take programming courses that year. The courses breezed by and I developed a knack for writing programs from scratch for each assignment with little debugging needed. I also thought I was going to do maths so I took more classes in that field (thinking I'd double major), but after last semester and this summer (I've been doing computational models and simulations) I've begun to wonder if computer science was a better suite for me.

As the previous person mentioned, it will be hard, if not impossible, for you to do research in physics without holding a degree. You could try and work towards a Master's in CS and take physics courses on the side, then try to get into a PhD program in physics. This may be extremely difficult, but one of the few ways I can think of working towards a career in research for computational physics. On the side, I think you should explore different aspects of computational physics. I know you said you didn't feel like doing simulations, but to be honest there is quite a bit of physics in simulations. Like this summer, I spent 25% of it working on simulations for these equations of motion I spent the first half deriving. Honestly after taking my first set proof-based math courses I thought I was going to spend my life working on pure theoretical and mathematical physics, but now experience has altered that. If simulations is not your thing, then see what other fields offer. I know a guy this past summer working in some theoretical particle physics stuff that involved super-symmetry (forgot exactly what he was working on) and I had to help him write a program to simplify these really complex matrices.

User avatar
razor
Posts: 30
Joined: Fri May 01, 2009 1:31 am

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby razor » Mon Aug 16, 2010 3:53 pm

Why not try Quantum Information and Quantum Computation?

KalmanK
Posts: 2
Joined: Fri Nov 26, 2010 8:50 pm

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby KalmanK » Tue Feb 15, 2011 2:21 am

This reply might be a bit late, but space science now has lots of computer science applications. For example, George Mason University has a Ph.D. in Computational Science and Informatics program which has concentrations in Computational Physics and Space Science and Computational Astrophysics http://cds.gmu.edu/content/phd-computat ... nformatics. I think this type of program might match what you are looking for.

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby bfollinprm » Tue Feb 15, 2011 7:01 am

KalmanK wrote:This reply might be a bit late, but space science now has lots of computer science applications. For example, George Mason University has a Ph.D. in Computational Science and Informatics program which has concentrations in Computational Physics and Space Science and Computational Astrophysics http://cds.gmu.edu/content/phd-computat ... nformatics. I think this type of program might match what you are looking for.


There's a similar program at UMD. Also, I'd check out large scale sky surveys (like the sloan digital survey), since these seem to be the one place in physics where actual computer science students are sometimes hired. It makes sense, since the data mining on these large surveys (there's a new one going up every year or two) is a computationally difficult question, and applying the relevant trees and data structures can really speed up the research.

vaibhav
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:29 am

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby vaibhav » Fri Sep 12, 2014 3:33 am

hey.
I am in the exact same situation.
I m in my 4th year Bachelors cse.
If you could tell me where did u get into and what program are you doing currently and how did u get into it,that would be really helpful to me..
thank u

bfollinprm
Posts: 1197
Joined: Sat Nov 07, 2009 11:44 am

Re: Research Areas which combine Computer Science with Physics?

Postby bfollinprm » Fri Sep 12, 2014 8:09 pm

Replying to a PM here for posterity, since the question asked is general enough to be of use to any reader of this thread:

PM wrote:I don't remember. The program might have folded, anyway; I wasn't even a grad student when I wrote that message.

If you're looking for computational astrophysics, my knowledge has improved considerably, and I doubt I'd recommend UMD anymore anyway.

I'd now recommend:

Carnegie Mellon/Pittsburgh (the institutes seem to have people from both): http://www.cmu.edu/cosmology/, http://www.stat.cmu.edu/~inca/

UC Santa Cruz: http://hipacc.ucsc.edu/

Arizona: https://www.as.arizona.edu/computational-astrophysics

Michigan: http://www.lsa.umich.edu/astro/research ... trophysics

Plus the usual suspects: MIT, Harvard, Chicago, CalTech, Max Planck, etc.




Return to “Research”

Who is online

Users browsing this forum: No registered users and 1 guest