Does research in math sciences count?

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Does research in math sciences count?

Postby CyberShot » Wed Sep 08, 2010 8:24 pm

Does research done in the mathematical sciences, i.e. probability theory, or random matrices, be helpful for physics grad school?

My advisor got his PhD in Physics but is technically working with the math departments.


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Re: Does research in math sciences count?

Postby kroner » Wed Sep 08, 2010 10:45 pm

Sure. Any kind of research experience can't hurt, but if it's got physics applications then that seems particularly good, although probably not as good as actual physics research. How close is what you did to what you want to be doing in grad school? Use your judgment.

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Re: Does research in math sciences count?

Postby CyberShot » Thu Sep 09, 2010 3:37 pm

Well, I'll be applying for mathematical physics/theoretical physics in grad school so I don't see how this is any worse than doing strictly physics research.


should I apply for an REU in math? Or would one in physics be better.

Much appreciated!!

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Re: Does research in math sciences count?

Postby geshi » Thu Sep 09, 2010 5:46 pm

Well I can't speak strictly for or against any of this, but I do have an anecdotal story for you. I had a friend in undergrad who was a math/physics double major. He did nearly all of his research in physics. The research he did included 2 REUs* in physics, some research during the course of 2 school years with two different professors doing physics work including an honors thesis in physics. Technically one of the physics projects he worked on was with a math professor in the math department. She was doing research in applied math simulations and doing physical experiments (personally I'd call that physics but maybe that's just my bias). He ended up going to grad school in math (math math, not applied math). He went to a good math program, fully funded, etc.

Point of this story: this friend clearly focused a lot on physics (and technically applied math) research and did just fine in applications. All of the work he did was actually in simulations, but it was all applied to physics problems, even the applied mathematician he worked with was really doing physics experiments and simulations. I don't think it makes THAT big a difference, particularly if you're double majoring in math and physics. Considering you want to do theoretical physics, math research isn't that big a leap away.

All that being said, I'd agree with kroner: physics research is probably more beneficial on applications than math research. There's always the suggestion that maybe doing math research might make your application more interesting as most of the applicants would be doing physics research?

P.S. *The REUs he did weren't technically REUs; they were just funded summer internships.

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