Posted: Sun May 09, 2010 5:23 pm Post subject: Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

I've been stumped for quite some time. Accepted to all 3 programs at UW. Right now, im leaning towards computational mathematics but I dont know if thats the best choice for me. Im someone who likes both math and programming but i like math a bit more. I like programming but I just hate those nights when a compsci project is due the next day and you can't figure something out, trying every possible way, fixing a million errors, etc. I don't think CS is a suitable major for me. However, I can handle comp sci. Im confused about the whole computational math program. Is it like a Mathematics program with CS minor? What are the job opportunities after graduation? I'd really want a job after undergrad and not getting a masters just to score a job... Any graduates or students from UW want to enlighten me with some info about Computational Mathematics?

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A.J

Posted: Sun May 09, 2010 6:31 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

I would advise you to go into Mathematics, as this way you'll still be able to take some of the CS courses at your leisure (as CS obviously falls under the Math department). If you take CS, however, you'll be forced to take certain courses you might not like, as there's quite a lot of work involved (as in, coding work). However, the only downfall to this is that you have to take 10 courses outside of the Mathematics department by the time you graduate, so you can't take too many CS courses if you go into Mathematics, as CS is under Math.

Computational Mathematics is basically solving industrial scale mathematical problems using computer modeling. Some example include weather forecasting, or even simulating certain complex systems found in nature, etc...

So, I am going to make the jump by saying that this is similar to Applied Mathematics, but you require programming skills to simulate/model certain formulas.

flayz

Posted: Sun May 09, 2010 6:35 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

If i do go into mathematics, I don't know what to major in for 2nd year.... ActSci isnt my thing - stats and probability, i dont really like those. Comp math seems like a good option for me involving math

Are there jobs for comp math graduates after undergrad?

Tony

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 12:05 am Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

The bulk of the jobs are in Software Development... if you are going the co-op route, expect to write code for work experience. I don't have the view on Computational Mathematics at graduation time, as I'm mostly looking at CS myself.

The advantage with going into Mathematics is that you don't have to declare your major until... sometime in 2nd year. You'll have a whole year of University to figure things out (you'd have a much better view on things after this first year).

It's also a very easy switch into CS (course transfer wise), but the administration is not too keen on it -- the tuition for CS is significantly higher than just Math (even thought the first year is pretty much the same, students often being in the same classes together), so they would not be too keen if they perceive that you are trying to get out of giving the school more money.

Posted: Mon May 10, 2010 2:27 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Thats true. Computational Mathematics is the same tuition as CS, so switching shouldnt be a problem

Brightguy

Posted: Thu May 13, 2010 9:22 am Post subject: Re: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

A.J @ Sun May 09, 2010 6:31 pm wrote:

I would advise you to go into Mathematics, as this way you'll still be able to take some of the CS courses at your leisure (as CS obviously falls under the Math department).

Not quite at your leisure, as most interesting CS courses are "Computer Science students only", and other students need to apply through the waiting list. I was told CM students get priority after CS students, but I don't know if that's true.

flayz

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 12:09 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

anyone know why the enrolment number is so low?

syntax_error

Posted: Sun May 16, 2010 2:32 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

@flayz : Because not many people want to go into that field/program ?

Brightguy

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 12:25 pm Post subject: Re: Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

As for choosing a program, I'd give Tony's invention a try: list the the course requirements for each program, try to get a feeling of which type of courses you'd like to take, and choose the program which matches them most closely.

As for CM and CS, the first two years will actually be pretty similar. After that, in CM there are 4 streams and you have to choose 2. In CS there seem to be more possibilities, but with more complicated requirements. (Actually, I just checked them, and I wouldn't even trust myself to remember them all; maybe keep a scorecard or something to ensure you can actually graduate. ) I don't know who designed the CM program but my impression is that they assembled an assortment of courses from across the math faculty. Almost every CM course is cross-listed with another department.

Prabhakar Ragde

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 1:39 pm Post subject: Re: Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Brightguy @ Mon May 17, 2010 12:25 pm wrote:

I don't know who designed the CM program but my impression is that they assembled an assortment of courses from across the math faculty.

I was on the original CM design committee (along with people from each department in the Math Faculty), and, yes, this is pretty much what was done. The problem is that there is no CM department, and so no dedicated faculty or teaching tasks. The dean at the time did manage to get money assigned to hire faculty to teach CM courses, but those faculty members were hired by existing departments. If CM had taken off, it might have evolved that those people would have formed the core of a CM department and might have started to develop CM courses that weren't just cross-listings. But the student numbers never rose to a point where that was merited. So right now, CM is a way to take the most computationally-oriented courses from several departments.

Prabhakar Ragde

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 1:47 pm Post subject: Re: Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Brightguy @ Mon May 17, 2010 12:25 pm wrote:

As for CM and CS, the first two years will actually be pretty similar.

First year. Second year is different in the programs.

Quote:

In CS there seem to be more possibilities, but with more complicated requirements. (Actually, I just checked them, and I wouldn't even trust myself to remember them all; maybe keep a scorecard or something to ensure you can actually graduate. )

You laugh, but I know of a very good student scheduled to graduate this term who found themselves two courses short in a particular requirement, with summer plans already fixed in stone. They are completing those courses through distance education, in a pretty awkward fashion.

There are checklists available on the UW CS website.

flayz

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 3:47 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Prabhakar Ragde,

Would you recommend CM? Are there job opportunities? Do employers like this degree? Is the program flawed?

Prabhakar Ragde

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 4:50 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

The program is flawed, but all programs are flawed. At least the CM requirements are being worked on and getting better in terms of flexibility and scheduling. Not all programs can claim this.

I think universities do students a disservice by creating fifty thousand programs which are largely repackaging of courses, often with not much coordination between them. Even something like CS, which has been around for a while, has too many variations, options, and joint programs. Students think they need these credentials to distinguish themselves from the pack. Something new comes along, and everyone goes for it. Then something else comes along a few years later.

Employers aren't going to understand what CM is. There haven't been enough graduates. You will have to explain it to them. On the other hand, employers are perfectly aware that among the hundreds of students earning a CS degree each year, some are superstars who could do well at any job they're given (even one in a completely unrelated field of which they know nothing on day one) and some have just barely scraped through and are probably fit only for installing software on new laptops. Those extremes are probably easy to distinguish. What's between is another matter.

No program will guarantee you a job if you sit on your butt and wait for it to come to you. Conversely, the lousiest program will not hold you back if you take charge of your education. It is up to you.

CM has potential, but only if you take an active role. You need to be good in math and at least decent in computing. I don't think it's a good choice for a mediocre, lazy student. I don't know what is a good choice for such a student -- maybe something that will inspire them enough to put in some work. But if nothing will, a highly-structured, narrow program at least minimizes poor choices on their part.

Sorry, no easy answers. At least you're thinking about it. Too many students have already made choices based on some pretty flimsy reasons.

aqazwsx1

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:13 pm Post subject: Re: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Prabhakar Ragde @ Mon May 17, 2010 4:50 pm wrote:

The program is flawed, but all programs are flawed. At least the CM requirements are being worked on and getting better in terms of flexibility and scheduling. Not all programs can claim this.

I think universities do students a disservice by creating fifty thousand programs which are largely repackaging of courses, often with not much coordination between them. Even something like CS, which has been around for a while, has too many variations, options, and joint programs. Students think they need these credentials to distinguish themselves from the pack. Something new comes along, and everyone goes for it. Then something else comes along a few years later.

Employers aren't going to understand what CM is. There haven't been enough graduates. You will have to explain it to them. On the other hand, employers are perfectly aware that among the hundreds of students earning a CS degree each year, some are superstars who could do well at any job they're given (even one in a completely unrelated field of which they know nothing on day one) and some have just barely scraped through and are probably fit only for installing software on new laptops. Those extremes are probably easy to distinguish. What's between is another matter.

No program will guarantee you a job if you sit on your butt and wait for it to come to you. Conversely, the lousiest program will not hold you back if you take charge of your education. It is up to you.

CM has potential, but only if you take an active role. You need to be good in math and at least decent in computing. I don't think it's a good choice for a mediocre, lazy student. I don't know what is a good choice for such a student -- maybe something that will inspire them enough to put in some work. But if nothing will, a highly-structured, narrow program at least minimizes poor choices on their part.

Sorry, no easy answers. At least you're thinking about it. Too many students have already made choices based on some pretty flimsy reasons.

Prabhakar Ragde you said, "You need to be good in math and at least decent in computing." What about a major in CS? Do you good math and programming skills to succeed in the program and later on in life with jobs?

flayz

Posted: Mon May 17, 2010 8:46 pm Post subject: RE:Computational Mathematics vs Computer Science vs Mathematics @ UW

Are CM graduates competing with CS graduates for jobs?