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If you've got a Physics/Maths degree, how much programming knowledge do you need...

Discussion in 'Scripting & Programming' started by jo74, Feb 8, 2010.

  1. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    to become a programmer/developer? I'm assuming that you'd need some! :biggrin But could it just be an SCJP or a few individual OU course modules? Or just being self-taught?
     
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  2. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Some people do programming as part of their degree, Fortran, Ocaml, F#, Matlab, Maple, Mathematica, SAS, C++, R, or S, in my day people on Maths degrees did Pascal, Fortran or Modula2.

    Some Applied Mathematicians and Physicists routinely build mathematical models so programming is not such a stretch.

    So they could already have enough to land a job as a junior programmer somewhere.

    If not I'd expect anyone bright enough to be able to pass a Maths or Physics degree to be able to pick up a programming book and get on with it.

    Much of computer science has overlap with pure maths, combinatronics, matrices, linear algebra, lambda calculus, logic, complexity theory, discrete mathematics, graph theory, information theory, number theory, automata theory, game theory, computational geometry, formal languages, etc.

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

    You probably already know more computer science than most programmers !

    You need as much as the employer thinks you need ! :D

    You'd probably be better off learning a functional language if your main interest is mathematics.

    Nothing wrong with being self taught, sometimes its easier to get tuition, depends on the individual and the circumstances.

    Maths and Physics grad's are supposed to be rarer than gold dust, you should have your pick of jobs if you show employers you are keen to learn and adaptable.

    I've been a developer for 15+ years with a Computer Science background and am a bit weak at maths and physics so for me its an area where I want to try and learn some more.
     
    Last edited: Feb 8, 2010
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  3. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    Maybe I should've mentioned that it was a hypothetical question :oops:

    I'm studying for an OU degree but am leaning more towards more Maths/Physics courses.
     
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  4. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    I'm a mathematican/physicist and can find programming a bit tricky sometimes - I did some in my undergraduate degree but really didn't like doing it, most likely because it was for a topic that I disliked, or some project that I couldn't see the point in, rather than the coding - I passed my modules in it, and was part of my thesis, so it couldn't have been too bad!

    If I put my mind to it, I would have thought I could learn a language without too much difficulty - its just a matter of desire! And I lack that for it at the moment!
     
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  5. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Maths and programming are very, very closely related, in that you form elegant solutions to problems and computer science itself is a branch of math. Programming does take a slightly different train of thought as there are usually many solutions to problems and it is always left to the programmer to find the most efficient in terms of execution times and how concisely the algorithm is written. Programming, or more accurately 'computer science' is actually a form of discrete mathematics where whole values are manipulated, and various tricks are performed using whole numbers to represent discrete values for some applicable domain or range.

    If you already have a maths/physics degree I'd look into the mathematical detail of programming (numerical algorithms and proof) and see where that gets you. After this, you will really be in a position to tackle quite tough problems and decide whether you need to take certs or be self-taught.

    Good luck! :)
     
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  6. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    In terms of OU Maths courses, I'm leaning more towards MST209 as it's applied Maths, largely applied to Mechanics in Physics.
     
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  7. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    How is your calculus ? Have you taken MS221 ?
     
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  8. Mathematix

    Mathematix Megabyte Poster

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    Applied maths is applied maths, mechanics is mechanics, physics is physics, and... computer science is computer science.

    Although you can and will find related elements between all these subjects, one will not teach you adequately about the other - hence the specialisms. Having said that, techniques are easily transferable. :)
     
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  9. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    My calculus is okay, because of MST121 and private study. I had a look through a used copy of MS221 and didn't fancy it at all, especially the first two blocks. It's not 'till the third block that Calculus is taught.
     
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  10. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    MS221 is pretty much essential I'd say to even looking at anything higher, especially on the Maths course front.
     
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  11. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    I'd say that it's essential for M208 (level 2 Pure Maths course) but not entirely so for MST209 which does include bridging material. It's only complex numbers that's not really covered in MST121, though one would need to brush up on the calculus.
     
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  12. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Well everybodies different, but there was an reasonably bright engineer on my MS221 course who had attempted MST209 without the MS221 and he failed it and had to drop back down.

    The standard advice is MST121 -> MS221 -> M208 & MST209, this also gets you a Math diploma.

    MST209, MSXR209 and MS325 looked of interest to me but I've given it up as it was too much work.

    I think physics and maths are best learnt with direct tuition if possible, I might enrol on a degree course at a university in a year or so.

    You probably also want some statistics if you want to maximise your chances of employment.
     
    Last edited: Feb 14, 2010
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  13. derkit

    derkit Gigabyte Poster

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    These topics would be pretty hard to study if you haven't done MS221.
     
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  14. jo74

    jo74 Byte Poster

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    There is bridging material (available online) and I've a used copy of MST209 plus several textbooks but I'm certainly appreciative of it's difficulty. I'm thinking of 'swotting up' over 18 months :biggrin (there's no 'room' for MS221 next year unless I want to take on a massive workload).
     
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  15. zr79

    zr79 Byte Poster

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    Depends on what level you go in at and what language. If doing M & P you should get either some C/C++ or java. Learn the basics of functions, sub routines, calling API, string manipulation, loops, variables and your good to go.
     
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  16. swatto

    swatto Byte Poster

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    Ive got an interest in programming - and from what I have read understand it quite well. I am however very bad at maths - and only got a C grade at GCSE :cry: so I have opted to go down the support route of I.T rather than software development (even though I did a diploma in software dev).

    Wish I was better at maths :dry
     
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  17. dmarsh

    dmarsh Terabyte Poster

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    Grade C GCSE is not the end of the world, just keep at it and take some more courses and try harder.

    If you really want to succeed and put in the necessary groundwork and have reasonable intelligence then one exam grade is no reason to hold you back...
     
    Last edited: Apr 10, 2010
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