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I’m a high school senior who's gone through quite the self-introspection the past few months while applying for college, and I have a bit of a dilemma. All my life, I've loved & excelled at mathematics, and want to study & explore it very much in depth in college. I get very excited when I read up on fields such as number theory, analysis, topology, and algebraic geometry. On top of that, I've also realized that although I have no experience programming, there are wonderful merits to applying math to computer science and would love to apply my math skills to a fast-growing industry.

I feel, however, that studying comp sci will "limit" the scope and depth of the math I study, because joint programs of math and comp sci will only make you take math classes relevant to the study of computer science. Out of the Common App colleges I'm applying to, Emory, NYU, and BU have joint majors in math and computer science, while UMiami only has a BS in mathematics, and Georgia Tech has BSs in discrete and applied mathematics. For Emory, for instance, I'll be "missing out" on multivariable calculus, complex variables, real analysis, and abstract algebra if I did their joint program as opposed to majoring in Pure Mathematics.

If there is a way to combine these two interests without limiting the mathematics I learn, that'd be amazing, but if not, so be it. If you feel I have certain misconceptions, please feel free to point them out. Lastly, I know this is not the best place to ask this question, as it is used for questions about mathematics itself, but I would love your input and appreciate it ahead of time!

Thank you!

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closed as off-topic by user223391, rschwieb, ml0105, Ian Miller, Rohan Dec 31 '16 at 7:17

This question appears to be off-topic. The users who voted to close gave this specific reason:

  • "Seeking personal advice. Questions about choosing a course, academic program, career path, etc. are off-topic. Such questions should be directed to those employed by the institution in question, or other qualified individuals who know your specific circumstances." – Community, rschwieb, ml0105, Ian Miller, Rohan
If this question can be reworded to fit the rules in the help center, please edit the question.

  • $\begingroup$ by studying a lot. $\endgroup$ – Jorge Fernández Hidalgo Dec 31 '16 at 4:24
  • $\begingroup$ Cross-posted on MO. $\endgroup$ – dxiv Dec 31 '16 at 5:01
  • $\begingroup$ Life is a trade off... $\endgroup$ – copper.hat Dec 31 '16 at 5:26
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Based on what you've said, I recommend full math major, while self-studying those parts of computer science which match your interests. In my opinion, trying to self-study advanced math would be harder.

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There is an area of CS called Theoretical Computer Science, which studies problems in computer science using mathematical tools and rigor. Complexity theory is the subset of TCS that comes to mind for most folks, but it is not the only area of TCS. Other areas include automata theory, computability theory, theoretical machine learning, bioinformatics, etc.

My undergraduate degrees were in Math and Economics, with a minor in CS. This enabled me to focus on areas I was interested in (discrete math, game theory, economic theory, TCS) without having to fulfill CS requirements like three semesters of organization/systems, technical writing, public speaking, and such. I agree with quasi- major in math, and perhaps pick up a minor in CS. Also, don't limit yourself to departments. Lots of other departments have content relevant/intersecting with CS, such as economics (game theory, networks), finance, industrial and systems engineering (operations research), stats, the hard sciences, etc. If you want to work in more applied areas, learning to talk with folks in other disciplines is helpful and makes you more marketable. If you go the grad school/academic route for a career, grants tend to be more available and in larger amounts for applied areas vs. theory.

Also, you are not in college yet. I (as I'm sure many others here) changed their interests, as well as their majors, while in college. Take some time to explore things that might interest you, outside of the narrow scope of math/CS! You might make connections or find new areas to which you can/want to apply your skills.

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    $\begingroup$ I should also note that I took senior level classes in analysis and algebra. My path was not restrictive. $\endgroup$ – ml0105 Dec 31 '16 at 4:59
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    $\begingroup$ That sounds about right. Comparative languages, two semesters of operating systems, and public speaking at a minimum. Tech writing, capstone, and some electives were left, and possibly negotiable. Something like 8 classes sounds about right, which equated to two semesters. Honestly, I could have finished it my senior year, but I opted for grad classes in (mostly) other departments instead. $\endgroup$ – ml0105 Dec 31 '16 at 5:37
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Your post lets out much more enthusiasm for math than for CS. You are not irrevocably choosing between a very risky and a very safe career path. I say, follow your heart.

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