Relevance of Applied Probability to a career in Numerical Fluid Dynamics / Mathematical Physics / Applied PDE

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
Arc
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:38 pm

Relevance of Applied Probability to a career in Numerical Fluid Dynamics / Mathematical Physics / Applied PDE

Postby Arc » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:05 pm

Hi everyone. I just completed my first semester as a PhD student in Applied Math at a well ranked US college. I am an international student from an Engineering background, with sufficient programming experience, and my research interests are in numerical fluid dynamics / applied PDE / mathematical physics. I had a perfect score on the general GRE Math, but I wrote the Math GRE and I scored just a little over 600 because I could only really deal with the Calculus problems and then few other sections (most of the material were new to me, since I wasn't a Math / Physics major).

My courses this semester were in Applied Probability, Numerical Analysis and Applied PDE, and I also began some research with my intended supervisor (though it was not required or usual for a first year student me). I haven't done any probability since High School, and this was my first PDE course (didn't take any formally in Engineering though PDEs were encountered), so I had a lot of learning to do in both courses. However, the numerical analysis was mostly a breeze because of my programming background. As the semester progressed I began to pay less attention to the numerical analysis and focus on the other two - thus I lost an opportunity for a relatively easy A in Numerical Analysis due to deliberately uncompleted homework and other time-sacrifices towards the other two courses. I eventually had an A- in Numerical Analysis, a B+ in Applied PDE and a B- in Applied Probability.

I felt I owed the professor an explanation for the B- so I emailed him, and his response was kind of scary, talking about how I "have to discuss my future as a grad student in the department" based on my poor showing in the probability class. As far as I know, this is the final probability class I will be taking. Should I be concerned? Plus, I once read here that grades don't matter that much in grad school if you are able to hold your own in research (which I believe I can). Any advice will be very welcome, please.

Arc
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:38 pm

Re: Relevance of Applied Probability to a career in Numerical Fluid Dynamics / Mathematical Physics / Applied PDE

Postby Arc » Sat Dec 26, 2015 9:11 pm

For context, in case it matters, here is the grade breakdown at this university:

A 4.000
A- 3.667
B+ 3.333
B 3.00
B- 2.667
C+ 2.333
C 2.000 Lowest passing grade for graduate students
C- 1.667 Lowest passing grade for graduate business students
D 1.000 Lowest passing grade for undergraduate students
X 0.000
I 0.000
F* 0.000

ghjk
Posts: 81
Joined: Sat Apr 21, 2012 8:42 pm

Re: Relevance of Applied Probability to a career in Numerical Fluid Dynamics / Mathematical Physics / Applied PDE

Postby ghjk » Sat Dec 26, 2015 11:04 pm

Arc wrote:Hi everyone. I just completed my first semester as a PhD student in Applied Math at a well ranked US college. I am an international student from an Engineering background, with sufficient programming experience, and my research interests are in numerical fluid dynamics / applied PDE / mathematical physics. I had a perfect score on the general GRE Math, but I wrote the Math GRE and I scored just a little over 600 because I could only really deal with the Calculus problems and then few other sections (most of the material were new to me, since I wasn't a Math / Physics major).

My courses this semester were in Applied Probability, Numerical Analysis and Applied PDE, and I also began some research with my intended supervisor (though it was not required or usual for a first year student me). I haven't done any probability since High School, and this was my first PDE course (didn't take any formally in Engineering though PDEs were encountered), so I had a lot of learning to do in both courses. However, the numerical analysis was mostly a breeze because of my programming background. As the semester progressed I began to pay less attention to the numerical analysis and focus on the other two - thus I lost an opportunity for a relatively easy A in Numerical Analysis due to deliberately uncompleted homework and other time-sacrifices towards the other two courses. I eventually had an A- in Numerical Analysis, a B+ in Applied PDE and a B- in Applied Probability.

I felt I owed the professor an explanation for the B- so I emailed him, and his response was kind of scary, talking about how I "have to discuss my future as a grad student in the department" based on my poor showing in the probability class. As far as I know, this is the final probability class I will be taking. Should I be concerned? Plus, I once read here that grades don't matter that much in grad school if you are able to hold your own in research (which I believe I can). Any advice will be very welcome, please.


I think you should be able to explain the main reason why you received a B- in Applied Probability (aka, focus on research way too much, and the Applied PDE killed most of your possible time devoted for coursework. If the Applied Prob is not relevant to your research direction, and not a core course, you will have a much easier time to explain). If possible, you can even suggest to re-take the Applied Probability, or just self-study and pass one of the qualifying exam on that topic. You should also talk to your advisor, who might know how to work around those situations, as it varies depending on the school.

Best of luck to you! I'd love to learn more about your background, and where you are studying. Also, why applied math in the 1st place?

Arc
Posts: 3
Joined: Fri Apr 10, 2015 3:38 pm

Re: Relevance of Applied Probability to a career in Numerical Fluid Dynamics / Mathematical Physics / Applied PDE

Postby Arc » Sun Dec 27, 2015 12:06 am

ghjk wrote:I think you should be able to explain the main reason why you received a B- in Applied Probability (aka, focus on research way too much, and the Applied PDE killed most of your possible time devoted for coursework. If the Applied Prob is not relevant to your research direction, and not a core course, you will have a much easier time to explain).

Yes, this was the reason I sent the email in the first case! The three courses are all core courses, but a minimum of B+ in at least two of them is advised (which I achieved).

ghjk wrote:If possible, you can even suggest to re-take the Applied Probability, or just self-study and pass one of the qualifying exam on that topic. You should also talk to your advisor, who might know how to work around those situations, as it varies depending on the school. Best of luck to you!

Thank you! And thanks for the advice; I will do so.

ghjk wrote:I'd love to learn more about your background, and where you are studying. Also, why applied math in the 1st place?

I am from Africa, and I have a bachelors in Engineering from there as well. As for the university, I don't want to possibly be publicly identified by this, so I have replied in your inbox. Why Applied Math? Well I am interested in numerical / computational modeling of fluid dynamics - at a level that I can only research in Applied Math...




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