For example, an interdisciplinary PhD program that I am reading about says this about their program:

"The program differs from the regular departmental offerings in science mainly by its interdisciplinary approach and emphasis on mathematics and physics, with less emphasis on descriptive material from any one discipline."

What does descriptive material mean here?

  • Ask them. And let us know what you find out! – aparente001 Mar 2 '17 at 6:34

I'm guessing, but the way I read it is 'you're going to have to do proper calculations, not just waffle'. That is, I would take the 'descriptive material' to be in contrast with 'mathematics and physics'.

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  • I had the same thought. My department uses a similar wording to describe their business degree with a quantitative finance / fintech focus from the more "fluffy" business administration and marketing degrees. – xLeitix Feb 28 '17 at 8:07
  • actually, I stumbled on a field of study called "descriptive statistics" that computes information that summarizes an entire population (average quantities, for example) whereas "inferential statistics" makes inferences about a population, based on sampling (I have no experience in Stats, fyi). I think this context of "descriptive" could be the one used in describing the PhD program that I was reading about... – user70019 Feb 28 '17 at 9:56
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    @user70019 No, I don't think so. "descriptive statistics" as a subfield does not equal "descriptive material from any one discipline". (Of course, knowledge about descriptive statistics methods is very useful. But that applies to statistics in general.) – Roland Feb 28 '17 at 10:17
  • @Roland, ah, thanks for the correction...I will not conflate the meanings then. – user70019 Feb 28 '17 at 10:25
  • If I found the correct program, its description says earlier, "quantitative analysis of observational records, and theoretical, mathematical, numerical, and experimenting modeling." – mkennedy Feb 28 '17 at 21:47

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