A Few Questions About Caltech

<p>I was just accepted to Caltech this morning, and I'm very excited. A few questions for all you current techers.</p>

<p>Anyone out there in CS? What's it like? I know the department is fairly new... would you consider it as good as other schools? What areas of research are there? I'm particularly interested in AI and robotics.</p>

<p>Also, is it humanely possible to do a Cs/Ay double major?</p>

<p>I'm not a CS major myself, but I'm friends with a lot/too many of them (and of course play one on TV.) :D</p>

<p>Even though CS is relatively new here, it's already one of the most popular majors. Caltech CS grads seem to get jobs easier than any other major, and from what I've seen, make more money (except for ChemEs.) Caltech CS is very theoretical and involves a lot of math, which can be a good thing or a bad thing. Just don't expect it to be learning programming (you're already expected to know that or learn that on your own.)</p>

<p>Check out the research that is going on in the CS department for yourself: <a href="http://www.cs.caltech.edu/csresearch/groups.html%5B/url%5D"&gt;http://www.cs.caltech.edu/csresearch/groups.html&lt;/a>. I know freshmen that are on some of these projects, so they seem to be very open to undergrads. The CS department is growing really quickly and there are new projects (many interdisciplinary ones) all the time. Also, since you're into AI and robotics... you may want to work on the Caltech DARPA Grand Challenge Team next year (I'm assuming there is another DARPA Grand Challenge.) Caltech's vehicle is pretty much completely done by undergrads and it's pretty easy to get on the team. It's just extremely time consuming, but can be very rewarding.</p>

<p>It's definitely not humanely possible to do a CS/Ay double major here (one might argue that Ay is not much of a humane major on its own.) Lots of prefrosh get this idea that they need to, are expected to, or even can double major just because they are interested in multiple subjects. You're practically already double minoring in math and physics just by being at Caltech, it's okay. ;) However, CS is pretty open with its requirements, and if you're into Ay, it would probably be pretty easy to take Ph 12 instead of Ph 2 and take Ay 20, 21, 101, 102, and whichever other ones look fun instead. The actual Ay major requires these in addition to Ph 125abc and Ph 106abc, which would not allow you any time to take fun advanced CS courses and might not even be all that interesting to you.</p>

<p>There was someone in my house who graduated last year with a double major in Physics and EE (and fulfilled the requirements for Ec but the registrar wouldn't give approve a triple-major). His humanness status was questionable but it suggests that there may be entities who can double major in CS/Ay (Ph and Ay have almost the same requirements and CS has a lot fewer requirements than EE).</p>

<p>I don't think the average Techer would be able to keep what little sanity they have left doing that.</p>

<p>what about double majoring in math and physics, since you already have to get a lot of physics in from the core, and you can pass out of math classes freshman year?</p>


<p>I mean.. a physics/math double major, although extremely popular among prefrosh/frosh, is really not feasible. Although you take a lot of physics in core, a good deal for any other school, you have to take quite a bit of physics on top of it for a physics major. Also, the two majors have no overlaps (perhaps some electives if you petition for them?).</p>

<p>Besides, most people after coming in realize that what they really like is math or physics and not both.</p>

<p>mathwiz, I'm a CS major and I can write a long discussion on it. I'm really busy today and tomorrow, but if I don't respond on Wednesday, feel free to PM me or bump this thread back up to get my attention.</p>

<p>I will say now, however, that doing a CS/Ay double major would be very hard. CS tends to be an easier major requirement wise, and it's not unfeasible to pair it up and do a double major, but Ay is the opposite. An Ay major is basically a Ph major plus the astronomy requirements. I don't think it'd be possible to finish in four years without overloading several times, and you'd be doing so with very difficult classes.</p>

<p>In each of the last two years there has been a (exactly one) math-physics double major. This year there is also a math major who is also getting his masters in physics along with a BS in math and going to grad school in theoretical physics at Harvard next year.</p>

<p>So various math-phys type doubles that are possible. I suspect that the principal reason theres not many math-physics doubles here is because prefrosh who want to double major have one of two mindsets:
1. I want to major in physics. Physicists need lots of math and I'll have to take math classes anyways so I might as well double major in math.
2. I want to major in math. Physicists use lots of math so I might as well double major in something that uses a lot of math-like physics.</p>