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Paul Dirac

8 August 1902 – 20 October 1984

Mathematical Physics

You can begin this program at an
off-campus site through a satellite campus or regional partner.

Connect mathematics to physical phenomena. Discover and describe how a top spins, how a pendulum swings or how a rattleback rocks and defies normal intuition! Learn the meaning of chaos and how it appears in the real world, learn the mathematics and physics of the world of relativity and quantum theory.


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What is Mathematical Physics?

Mathematical Physics is an interdisciplinary program studying conceptual, mathematical frameworks that describe or explain physical phenomena. In this area of study, one builds theories of physical phenomena, accounting for physical features which are then expressed in precise mathematical terms. The deductions of the theory are expected to capture some aspect of physical reality. Mathematical Physics extends to the deepest and most fascinating realms of both disciplines. This program was uniquely designed by the Departments of Mathematics and Statistics and Physics and Engineering Physics to meet the needs of students interested in this interdisciplinary subject. Mathematical Physics is an exciting field that is continually evolving.

Mathematical Physics: Is it for you?

  • The Mathematical Physics program is unique in its interdisciplinary approach that allows students more flexibility in choosing their courses.
  • Upper year classes have excellent student – professor ratios, which allow for direct interaction and create an excellent learning environment.
  • Mathematical Physics has a dedicated faculty that offer students a quality education.
  • Students have the opportunity to interact with active mathematicians and physicists and are introduced to the national and international mathematical and scientific community.
  • Both the Department of Mathematics & Statistics and the Department of Physics & Engineering Physics offer scholarships and awards to top students.
  • Many Honours students, while completing their degree, are also able to find employment in the Departments of Mathematics & Statistics or Physics & Engineering Physics as research assistants during summers or as markers and tutorial assistants during the academic year.

Sample Classes

  • ASTR 411: Gravitation and Cosmology
    An introduction to general relativity as a theory of gravitation with applications to cosmology. Includes: principles of special and general relativity, tensor calculus in curved spacetime, Einstein's field equations, Schwarzschild solution, experimental tests of general relativity, black holes, standard cosmological models, unresolved cosmological issues, gravitational waves.
  • MATH 433: Applied Group Theory
    Treats the following topics from group theory: permutation groups, crystallographic groups, kinematic groups, abstract groups, matrix Lie groups, group representations. Specific topics include the rotation group (spinors and quantum mechanical applications), the Lorentz group (representations and wave equations), SU (3) (its Lie algebra and physical relevance).
  • MATH 452: Introduction to Modern Differential Geometry
    Submanifolds of Rn; Riemannian manifolds; tensors and differential forms; curvature and geodesics; selected applications.
  • PHYS 481: Quantum Mechanics II
    Linear vector spaces and quantum mechanics; hermitian and unitary linear operators; Schrodinger equation in various representations; the operator method as applied to the harmonic oscillator and to angular momentum eigenvalues; the spin statistics theorem; minimal couping of electromagnetic fields; time independent peturbation theory and applications.

Career Opportunities

  • Mathematical Physics researcher at a research institute (e.g. AT&T Bell Labs, IBM Labs, Xerox Research Labs, HP Labs, Los Alamos National Lab, CERN, Perimeter)
  • Theoretical Physics researcher at a research institute (e.g. AT&T Bell Labs, IBM Labs, Xerox Research Labs,HP Labs, Los Alamos National Lab, CERN, Perimeter)
  • Applied Mathematician in industry
  • Physicist in industry
  • University Professor
  • High-School Teacher
  • Financial Consultant at a major world bank or a Stock Brokerage
  • Consultant in government departments

Skill Sets Gained

  • Learning how to think deeply in abstract and general terms
  • Expertise in mathematical and physical sciences with applications to all real-world phenomena and modelling situations
  • Collecting, analyzing, and interpreting data
  • Creativity
  • Critical and analytical thinking
  • Organizational/Planning skills
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Research skills and methods
  • Technical skills

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