I am in kind of a dilemma(ish) situation. I am a rising junior, and I plan on applying to graduate school in math, but I have not shut the door on graduate programs in CS or applied math either (am interested in algorithms, combinatorics, optimization, etc.).

There is one professor at my school who I am pretty close with in the CS department, who I also plan on doing research with. This professor does research in algorithmic game theory, which for all intents and purposes (at least in my opinion) is hopefully pretty close to "math".

I think they would be able to write a good recommendation letter, and it certainly would be helpful if I decided to apply to CS graduate school. However, would math graduate admissions prefer such a letter over a teacher I had? I would presume so, but I just wanted to make sure.

Also, on the flip side, would a recommendation from a professor in math help for CS? The professor in mind mostly does combinatorics. Thanks for your help!

  • 1
    Is this for grad study in the US, or elsewhere?
    – Buffy
    Commented Jul 25, 2020 at 18:21
  • @Buffy US grad study.
    – Vasting
    Commented Jul 26, 2020 at 2:38

1 Answer 1


As a general principle, you want letters of recommendation from the professors who know your best work best. Letters from professors in fields closely related to yours are OK. (Applied) math and (theoretical) CS surely qualify.

In this case you should certainly have one from this professor. The professor would probably write slightly different letters for math or cs graduate programs - you can ask about that.

Good luck.

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