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I am in currently in college, wanting to study applied mathematics and physics. How many discrete math courses am I required to take; is it necessary that I take any at all?

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closed as not constructive by Austin Mohr, TMM, Rudy the Reindeer, Lukas Geyer, Cameron Buie Nov 18 '12 at 22:14

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Very institution-dependent. Often none. – André Nicolas Nov 18 '12 at 19:37
Oh, you do need discrete maths for applied mathematics. It is usually one basic, introductory course, and later on more stuff will come within different courses. – DonAntonio Nov 18 '12 at 19:37
up vote 3 down vote accepted

How many you’re required to take depends entirely on the institution and departments involved. How many you ought to take depends on the sort of applied mathematics and physics you want to do. A standard introductory course of the sort that you’re now taking ought to be required of anyone going into any field of applied mathematics, but if your interests lean heavily towards physics, you might not need much more than that. Then again, you might: I know a theoretical chemist whose work involved a lot of combinatorics.

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You should encounter thermodynamics and statistical mechanics at some point, so you ought to understand combinatorics. I would recommend an introductory discrete mathematics course that covers combinatorics. I took modern physics which served as an introduction to special relativity, quantum theory, thermodynamics, and statistical mechanics. Most people struggled with quantum mechanics because they had never seen PDEs before. Moreover, many students dropped statistical mechanics because they could not understand how to turn a word problem into a combinatorics problem.

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