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  math and physics that is strongly theoretical

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I'm a freshman in physics. I want to major in strongly theoretical physics such as theoretical physics and astrophysics. I want to learn physics more than math,but I look some training programs of physics in many different universities.These training programs require student to learn math as same as students majored in math.Doing that could take a lot of time and simple math could satisfy the requirement of current course.But I'm afraid that simple math may have affect on my learning and reserach in future.Is that ture? Are there any examples that use mathematical proof process and rigour in physics?

asked Mar 8 in Chat by mathsc (0 points) [ no revision ]
recategorized Mar 13 by Arnold Neumaier

1 Answer

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The truth (in my opinion) is that "simple math" (where is the boundary between "simple" and "difficult" maths?) probably is not enough, in particular if you want to do theoretical physics.

University mathematics can be daunting for beginners; it was for me in the first semester, then I had adapted. I have heard that many others have similar experience. Here some perseverance and endurance in the face of hardship may be required. I (physicist) had my mathematics lectures together with the mathematicians, and I have never regretted this. With such a background you should be able to acquaint yourself with any field of mathematics you may require at some time in the future.

It seems to me that an important aspect here is why you want to study physics. To call yourself a physicist and hold a degree? Or do you really want to understand? The latter case not only requires an understanding of the physical concepts as such but also of the maths used to describe them. In my opinion you should understand the proofs of the mathematical theorems you are relying on when discussing physics. Of course, you will hardly be required to learn everything within a year.

As for rigour:

In Newtonian mechanics, deriving, in the context of a set of point masses, expressions for change of total momentum, change of angular momentum, motion of the centre of mass involves rigour.

In statistical physics, deriving the expressions for probabilities in the various ensembles involves rigour.

The singularity theorems in gravitation involve rigour.

Wightman axioms and PCT theorem involve rigour. 

And there are many more examples.

answered Mar 8 by Flamma (80 points) [ no revision ]

About rigor in Physics: in order to apply some equations for some variables, we have to write down many inequalities determining the regions of validity of our notions (variables). Unfortunately, this fact is often forgotten. Going outside the regions of validity gives funny/wrong physical and mathematical results.

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