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I am basically an Electronics student - background in computer science (that's where I want to work). I applied for an internship in USA in a research institute where the group is focused in Theoretical Condensed Matter Physics, Chemical Physics, Physical Chemistry, Materials Science.

I mentioned my areas of interests as: Computational Science, Machine Learning, Web development My skills as: Python, C, Django, Java, etc..

I got selected. Now, I would like to know where could possibly a CS background guy would actually work on?

I am looking for a detailed answer

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closed as too localized by Qmechanic, dmckee Nov 3 '12 at 22:44

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2 Answers

Condensed matter physicists could always use some simulations, I'm sure. There's plenty of stuff where insight could be gained with a well run simulation. Depending on the place you're working at, you could have access to a supercomputer facility. The language people use for simulations vary, from Fortran, C, Python, Matlab, Mathematica... Basically depends on the background and convention of the place you're working in.

Coming from a CS background will be helpful, since physicist tend not to worry about the coding too much. "As long as it works" is the general attitude. If you can understand the physics, the computation should be much easier for you!

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I wish more physicists understood the benefits of division of labor and didn't rely on their physics grads to do all their coding for them as well as to study physical concepts at the same time. –  Chris White Nov 3 '12 at 21:43
    
@ChrisWhite Alas, much of the coding we do in nuclear and particle physics requires about a grad student's level of domain specific knowledge. DOE and NSF have been very interested in using more specialized programming man power, but it has only worked out in certain instances. –  dmckee Nov 3 '12 at 22:46
    
Well, when I code it's a really welcome break from my courswork. So I'm not complaining at all. :P @dmckee - What are DOE and NSF? –  Kitchi Nov 4 '12 at 14:08
    
The US Department of Energy and National Science Foundation, they are the big funding agencies in the States. I don't know how much interest there has been in other parts of the world, but we do get asked by our funders if there are parts of our work that could be better done by expert programmers. –  dmckee Nov 4 '12 at 14:11
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This is a forum usually dedicated to talking about physics concepts and questions to seek understanding, but this seems pretty important.

First off, congratulations!

Physicists and Chemists and Material Scientists can ALWAYS use someone with good computer skills. You would probably be using programs like Mathematica quite often to numerically and analytically solve problems along with making plots and complex 3D diagrams. You would probably be tasked with running simulations to test theories and concepts. You will also probably work either exclusively on windows or Mac OS.

I work in a similar institute; hope this helps!

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okay! that's sounds cool. apart from matlab, is there any real programming thing involved in work.. Java, python, etc.. –  Sheryl Nov 3 '12 at 16:47
    
not Matlab, Mathematica! Now, the lab I work in DOES use matlab, but in my experience only experimentalists use Matlab. It is really up to the preference of the scientist. As far as real programming goes, python is incredibly useful, so yes. We use python in my experimental physics class and many theoretical physics grad students know python like the back of their hand! Java, I have not heard of being used for scientific computing. –  Dylan Sabulsky Nov 3 '12 at 16:50
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