Academic advice: Mathematics or Computer Science?
After working for several years in the information security business as a software developer and researcher, I'm planning to go back to school and complete, at least, a bachelors degree but would like to go on to graduate work. I will be talking to an general academic advisor in a few months but I can't get this out of my head: What I really want to do is graduate work in theoretical computer science. That is, my specific interests include the lambda calculus and combinatorial logic, formal logic, type theory, category theory, automata theory, formal languages and so on. All of these have in common that they are almost completely rooted in mathematics. However, when I look at the mathematics program at the university that I'm planning to attend it has a very strong emphasis on calculus, which I have little interest in (however, that's not to say that I wouldn't enjoy more calculus and learn a lot from it in the process.) When I look at the computer science programs, all of the undergraduate work seems overly-practical for someone who wants to do graduate work in theoretical c.s.. For example, I have no interest in studying programming languages such as Java or working with database systems more than I already have.
My first instinct is to go through the mathematics program and transition to a c.s. program at some point at the graduate level, but it seems to me that I'd still end up having to go through a lot of courses rooted overly-practical computer engineering in the end anyway. I think that I would prefer the mathematics because it includes may non-c.s. and non-calculus topics that I'm interested in such as number theory, abstract algebra and so on. But will I be left out of c.s. completely if I do this?
I was hoping with all the educated folk on this forum, someone may have a had a similar experience or advice that might help me make the right decision.
In summary, is it better for someone with my interests and ambitions to bare the calculus or bare the Java, and if I do opt for the math., will I be putting myself at a disadvantage for oppertunities in c.s.?
[Edit: I've just been made aware of two important facts. PSU is on a quarter system, not a semester system. Knowing this, the amount of calculus does not seem as heavy as I had thought. Although calculus still stands at slightly over 1/3 of the coursework. The second interesting fact is that PSU has just received a significant amount of money to be invested in improving their computational mathematics curriculum and facilities. In light of these new facts, the commentary in this thread and likely too much thought on the subject, I think that I will probably stick to my, previously less educated, instinct and enter this mathematics program. That's not to say that I'll discontinue my research into other options. I'd like to apologize for not having realized the quarter/semester issue earlier and I'd like to thank all the people who have so far.]
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