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Topic: Please give me some suggestions!!!
Replies: 13   Last Post: Nov 11, 2013 10:54 PM

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GS Chandy

Posts: 8,307
From: Hyderabad, Mumbai/Bangalore, India
Registered: 9/29/05
Re: Please give me some suggestions!!!
Posted: Nov 9, 2013 7:54 AM
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math19 posted Nov 8, 2013 8:42 PM ( - GSC's remarks follow:
> I did my undergrad in computer science and now I am
> pursuing my major in it from an average university.
> My problem is ever since I was in my undergrad I
> always wanted to do something in mathematics as it
> always fascinated me.My Grandfather was a
> mathematician so he was always been my inspiration.I
> didn't made a decision to do my major in mathematics
> as now I am not in touch of it thats y scared. So now
> I am trying to search a topic which is midway between
> computers and maths but I am unable to find a
> direction!
> My problem is I am still unsure if I should change my
> major in mathematics or I should continue with
> computer science?
> Which is better?or Looking at my background what can
> be ideal for me?

I observe that three other participants here (apart from me, now) have thus far responded to your request with good ideas. (THESE IDEAS, though different, ARE NOT MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE! In what follows [and particularly in the model herewith attached], I shall try and demonstrate why this is so). Here are, briefly noted, some ideas put forth by others, as perceived by me (after some 'elements' drawn from your own introductory posting):

Brief list of some 'elements' (ideas) that could help you make your decision of choosing between 'math' and 'computer sciences':
0a to 0d are 'elements' created by me from your posting.
0a. ('MISSION'): To decide whether I should take up math or continue with computer sciences (from mat19's original post)
0b. To find something that is 'midway' between math and computer science (mat19)
0c. To change my major to math (mat19)
0d. To retain computer science as my major (mat19)

(Nos. 1 to 3 are ideas suggested by the three other Math-teach participants who've responded, as articulated by GSC)
1. To try out cryptography (Kirby Urner)
2. To find out what my real goals may be (Robert Hansen)
3. To check out my interests by taking up an advanced course in basic math (emphasising definitions; theorems and proofs) (Lou Talman)

GSC's suggestion - read up (or at least skim through) a couple of good 'background books' on math (and books on computer sciences). A couple of such books on math that come readily to mind are:
a: "Men of Mathematics", by Eric Temple Bell
b: "The World of Mathematics", edited by James Newman
(There are many others. Your math professors and computer professors are probably the best people to help you find the right books for your level). Thus, the 'element' I would recommend is:

(Nos. 4-9 are ideas I have articulated)
4. To read up a couple of good 'background books' on math and computer sciences (GSC)
NOTE: "The World of Mathematics" is a massive 4-volume classic of math - practically all of it accessible to complete laypeople - well worth reading in detail; for the purpose of making your decision, just skim through the parts that you may find relevant or useful. You might discuss it with your math professors or other math expert you be be acquainted with. The other book I recommend, "Men of Mathematics", is a wonderfully exciting read - but don't get entirely carried away by Eric Temple Bell's somewhat 'romantic view' of math. (I got carried away myself - and it cost me something. It wasn't disastrous - but there WAS a cost!)

Some further 'elements' articulated by GSC (mainly for the purpose of explaining the process you might follow to make your decision) are listed below - some of these developed, I believe, from ideas expressed in your original post:

5. To find out whether the discipline of math appeals to me (i.e. that is you) personally
6. To find out whether computer science appeals to me more than does math
7. To understand that I can actually do plenty of math while I specialise in computer science
8. To understand that I can actually do plenty of computer science while I specialise in math
9. To learn enough about computer science, math and myself to make the right decision
(Do feel free to articulate other ideas that may strike you you and to add them to your model that I hope you will create for yourself to ensure a sound decision.

There may be a [very] small amount of learning -alongside a fair bit of 'unlearning' - required to construct this kind of model, to learn to interpret your models and then to apply them to real life.

As observed earlier, these different ideas are NOT NECESSARILY MUTUALLY EXCLUSIVE! (Some of them may of course be mutually exclusive to an extent - e.g. "to specialize in CS" Vs "to specialize in math". But not ENTIRELY, if you will explore the modeling process I recommend).

I attach herewith a model, a 'structural graphics representation' showing how and why these are not necessarily exclusive. The model, called an 'Interpretive Structural Model' (ISM) is showing you a graphical representation of GSC's 'mental model about how the various 'elements' in it may "CONTRIBUTE TO" each other and to the 'Mission' (element 0a: "To decide whether I should take up math or continue with computer sciences").

I should emphasise that is a 'quick representation' of MY mental model - and you would certainly develop something quite different (even from those very same elements) if you use the process I am recommending. (Any model you honestly create will be a representation of YOUR 'mental model'!)

Instructions to read the model are provided at the model itself. It will take you a little while to get used to reading such models, then learning how to interpret them right and then finally understanding what to do with them in practice - but it is all simple enough even for any high school student to master in a couple of days.

Some background about 'mental models' as articulated by Kenneth Craik (who I understand pioneered the concept) would be useful for you to understand the approach recommended - see (probably the easiest read); ; - there is plenty more about mental models available - just Google for it and choose the one that suits you best; you DO need to understand the 'idea of mental models' quite thoroughly if you wish to develop a truly effective decision on the matter for yourself.

Gene Bellinger at a website he has called 'Mental Model Musings' ( has plenty of very useful background and examples, though he has nothing at all about the approach pioneered by the late John N. Warfield (which I STRONGLY recommend to ensure truly effective decision-making in all circumstances).

More information about Warfield's seminal contributions to systems science is available at and from the "John N. Warfield Collection" held at the library of George Mason University (Fairfax, VA-USA) where Warfield was Professor Emeritus - see;query=; .

A useful development from Warfield's work is the 'One Page Management System' (OPMS), which would enable you to choose any 'Mission' (say, "To decide whether I should go for math specialization or continue with computer sciences") and to develop, from your own currently available ideas about it, an *effective* Action Plan to accomplish it. The OPMS Action Plan can be guaranteed to be effective because it applies our inherent human capabilities to improve/correct our weak or wrong ideas - something that we all learned to do when we were infants and children, but alas largely forgot as we grew up in our ineffective systems.

Properly to use the process recommended to arrive at your decision, you should construct representations of your own mental models - NOT depend on anyone else's!! All the ideas provided to you thus far by all responders to your request (INCLUDING the ones [Nos. 4 to 9], that I've suggested) are of course coming from the 'mental models' of the people who have suggested them. Much better that you should make your own decision by constructing representations of your own mental models, which is what the OPMS approach will help you do. (You should certainly check out just how the ideas suggested by others fit into your own mental models).

More information about the OPMS (and how you can get hold of free software to do the needed modeling) is available at the attachments to my message heading the thread "Democracy: how to achieve it?" - see ).

Up front, I should inform you that Robert Hansen and his cohorts and consorts are entirely skeptical about the OPMS - we have had a great many exchanges about it in the past here at Math-teach. I am sure he will inform you why if you write to him - and you will see why I believe he is grievously wrong if you go through some of our exchanges here.

QUESTION: WHY should you do all this work to make a 'simple decision' as to whether you should choose CS or math? Well, the way I see it, it could be your ENTIRE life - and surely your life should be worth something to you. Robert Hansen has asked the question "What is your goal?" - well to find out that *effectively* will surely demand some such effort from you.


Message was edited by: GS Chandy

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