I finished an integrated masters program in physics last summer, and I plan on doing a PhD on the coordination of autonomous agents, particularly in the field of automated vehicles.
I was excited after having a discussion with a top professor in the field at a university I wanted to go to. I was told to read some more of his work to see if I could understand it, and get in contact in a few weeks. I did the reading, with some basic understanding afterwards, but the position I was pursuing was given away while I did this reading before I had the chance to prove my knowledge.
When I read papers in this field, which incorporate set theory and graph theory as well as other areas I have no background in, how much of the material do I need to 'get' before I can seriously apply? I find myself understanding the ideas and the processes, but I get tangled in the maths. How much training would somebody with a good academic record, but from a different field, get on a PhD program like this? Would I get time to get up to speed by reading seminal textbooks?
This sort of move into a new field is scary, and even with my good academic record, I am terrified of being completely useless.