Which is better for ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, optimization): Georgia Tech or Waterloo?

Forum for the GRE subject test in mathematics.
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Which is better for ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, optimization): Georgia Tech or Waterloo?

Postby benguin » Sun Apr 02, 2017 8:41 pm

Waterloo wants me to decide by 5pm tomorrow, so I'm kinda stressing out Dx

I have been admitted to the ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, and optimization) program at Georgia Tech and in the C&O (combinatorics and optimization) department at the University of Waterloo. I've visited both of them and they both seem like good schools for the type of research I'm interested in so I'm still having trouble deciding.

My general research interests are pretty clear given the name of the programs/departments, but I am still unsure on what my specific research interests are at the moment. From what I've been exposed to, I have a general liking to graph theory (and its applications) and since I have a computer science background, I am also interested in algorithms (including algorithms on graphs and other discrete structures and  combinatorial optimization).

I am also undecided on whether or not I want to pursue industry afterwards or if I want to stay in academia, so that's an additional complication in my decision.

Right now my pro's list for each is below:

-I like the city and the area around campus (whereas Atlanta doesn't feel as safe)
-They have a department dedicated to C&O (as opposed to just a program split between departments at Georgia Tech)
-I feel like I was able to connect with the professors there a bit more during my visit
-I know that Silicon Valley recruits from Waterloo and that there are even some physical presence of some tech companies in Waterloo (such as Google) and Waterloo has a co-op program to assist students in obtaining internships (I am considering doing an internship during one of my summer's to (1) see if industry is something I would want to do afterwards and (2) gain some industry experience since I currently have very little).

Georgia Tech:
-I'm not sure, but I have a feeling that Georgia Tech would be more highly regarded than Waterloo if I were to apply for a position in academia later.
-Although the program is split between departments, I do like the freedom in their program to work with Computer Science professors if I want to
-I would be closer to my significant other (we're in a long-distance relationship)

Any information would be appreciated. I just want to make sure that I don't pick the "wrong" school if there is one that is obviously wrong to everyone except my self.

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Re: Which is better for ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, optimization): Georgia Tech or Waterloo?

Postby spablo » Mon Apr 03, 2017 12:31 am

I can't say too much about the strength of each program (but Georgia Tech is highly regarded in the U.S.).

But first, I wouldn't be too concerned about safety in Atlanta. Yes, it has dangerous areas, especially because it's a big city (but it's also more developed), but I'm sure you can find housing in reasonably safe areas. Is the campus in a bad area? Maybe I think it's not too dangerous because I'm from the south, but Atlanta is still a really cool city that has a lot going on.

I too am in a long distance relationship, and I would choose the school that helps close the distance if the programs you're deciding between are relatively similar in strength/rank. Unfortunately for me, my partner lives in the city of my dream school, and I am not expecting an offer from them :(

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Re: Which is better for ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, optimization): Georgia Tech or Waterloo?

Postby verysweetjuices » Mon Apr 03, 2017 7:00 pm

As a Canadian, I'd say Waterloo. But perhaps that is my bias talking. Georgia Tech has a decent rep but I can't see many US schools being better for math than Waterloo. Waterloo's faculty alone would make many "superior" ranked schools crap their pants...

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Re: Which is better for ACO (algorithms, combinatorics, optimization): Georgia Tech or Waterloo?

Postby MathCat » Wed Apr 05, 2017 12:55 am

I'm not super informed about C&O fields so take this with a grain of salt, but it is my impression that Waterloo would be an excellent choice for C&O if you do want to go into academia later (and don't they also have pretty good industry connections?). But like verysweetjuices, perhaps that's my Canadian bias showing :wink: I can't speak for Georgia Tech in particular, but my university has a computational math program that is split between two departments, and this actually causes a lot of trouble and I believe hurts the students. There is not much coordination and they often slip through the cracks it seems. Perhaps that is something to ask current students about.

Also, are you Canadian or American (or neither)? This could affect eligibility for fellowships, which you might want to consider as well. For instance, if you are Canadian with a Canadian Bachelors, you could apply for NSERC PGS-D. If you went to Waterloo, you could potentially be awarded the CGS-D ($35,000/yr), but if you go to Georgia Tech and were offered the CGS-D, you would have to decline it and accept the PGS-D ($21,000/yr)). I don't think this should be the deciding factor, but worth considering, along with other cost-of-living considerations. Waterloo is a fairly cheap place to live, but some people find it boring after awhile...

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