I intend to double major in CS/Math and go to grad school for TCS. I have some - unorthodox - research ideas I would like to pursue for grad school. At the very least, they are interdisciplinary (think akin to humanities/STEM fields). Would this be a red flag for a AdCom for CS departments - as long as I can articulate why this research need to be done and why I should be admitted for it ? I know some other academic departments loath interdisciplinary more then others, so I want to know if CS/TCS is one of those.

If there's any 'poison pill' topics, I want to know so I can decide whether to pursue grad school.

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    $\begingroup$ P vs NP! lol :-) $\endgroup$
    – Tayfun Pay
    Commented May 12, 2022 at 19:51
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    $\begingroup$ If these topics are what you want to study, you might as well include them in your application. Otherwise, you may get admitted and find out that you can't study in the areas you want to once you get there. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2022 at 1:06
  • $\begingroup$ @PeterShor it's such a honor to have you give me advice. Would it make a difference if I came in with 'self-knowledge'? In that I had a good grasp of the non-TCS material and I would be responsible to bridge the subject matter and make it work in the TCS sphere? Would it help if I seeked a advisor outside the TCS department to advise on the non-TCS side (ofc the end of the day, I'm working to be a theoretical computer scientist)? $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2022 at 4:06
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    $\begingroup$ I just feel like saying that since TCS has the "T" in it, you can do the research anywhere you like at anytime you like -- we live in a wonderful world. $\endgroup$ Commented May 13, 2022 at 12:50

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I can mostly on speak to the US (and maybe a little Canada). In most CS departments here, you are admitted to work in a particular group (e.g. "the theory group") or with a particular professor (or maybe small group, e.g. if 2-3 professors work very closely together), not just "to the department" (which is, in contrast, how it often is in math departments). So for that type of dept you have to find a professor or group who would be interested to advise you and help advance the research you want to do.

Many TCS researchers and pure mathematicians unfortunately look down their noses at "complex systems" research; that is one of the few areas I can think of where this stigma is common. (Not me, and not my dept.) Some departments are more open to / encouraging of interdisciplinary research than others. Many say they want interdisciplinary research but their view of interdisciplinarity is very narrow. Look at what the professors and students there work on to get a sense. (And you'll want to do that anyway because of what I wrote in my first paragraph.)


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