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12-11-2012, 04:23 PM
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As some advice, if you're going into astronomy, you need to know some:

1) Statistics
2) Computer Science / Programming

At the time I was there (2003-2007) neither was include in the undergraduate program I took at McGill, Honours Math/Physics. I had taken programming because I had done a year of engineering and thus had taken comp 208, also I learned some from a summer undergraduate project. I had taken probability because math 323 seemed like an easy summer class, and I took math 324 for other reasons.

A lot of astronomers don't know statistics, and they end up doing a lot of things wrong. As you move up in academia, you will learn that the peer review process is overrated, and that a lot of wrong things get published. Basically, you need statistics to do correct astronomy.

In the case of computer science, the situation is more demanding. Without computer science, you will be unable to do both correct and incorrect astronomy. You will be completely paralyzed. That is only if you know nothing though. With a few weeks of training you can reach a basic competency level.

Without those coincidences that allowed me to get basic CS and Statistics, I would have flunked out of Astronomy graduate school. I still had to look up a few other things, but if the base is there you have the means to look up other things. I went to Ohio State. I was better than the other grad students at Taylor Series and numerical methods, but they knew how to code better.

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