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Why am I struggling with Differential Equations?

by andryd9
Tags: differential, equations, struggling
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andryd9
#1
Mar1-12, 07:09 PM
P: 39
Please help: I did well in Calc I-III, and now am struggling in Diff.Eq. Anyone else find themselves in the same situation, and how did you save yourself? TIA:)
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mathwonk
#2
Mar1-12, 07:41 PM
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is it bad to struggle? apparently it is new.
andryd9
#3
Mar1-12, 08:01 PM
P: 39
Yes, it is bad. And yes, it is new. If I am hindered in my progress and can't get a fix on how to adapt, I've wasted my time in this course. I was hoping to hear constructive advice from others who experienced the same. No guarantee, I know, that it will apply to my particular case, but one can always try.

hadsed
#4
Mar1-12, 08:35 PM
P: 492
Why am I struggling with Differential Equations?

How can you expect constructive advice when the explanation for your situation is literally one sentence? Maybe you should expound a bit on what you're facing, why you feel like you're struggling, what exactly you're struggling with, etc.
andryd9
#5
Mar1-12, 09:11 PM
P: 39
Ah, but there is a commonality of struggle:) Most students find the same things challenging in the same courses. I was hoping to hear the perspective of others who mastered diff.eq with effort. How about you- how did you find it comparable to your calc series? Were you well-prepared? Looking back, would you have preferred a different text? No intent to be cryptic, but others' hindsight about their own experiences can inspire a wealth of advice- perhaps better than if I solicited info specific to myself.
Jorriss
#6
Mar1-12, 10:13 PM
P: 1,072
Quote Quote by andryd9 View Post
Ah, but there is a commonality of struggle:) Most students find the same things challenging in the same courses. I was hoping to hear the perspective of others who mastered diff.eq with effort. How about you- how did you find it comparable to your calc series? Were you well-prepared? Looking back, would you have preferred a different text? No intent to be cryptic, but others' hindsight about their own experiences can inspire a wealth of advice- perhaps better than if I solicited info specific to myself.
I think the best differential equations book is Ross, Differential Equations.

There are common themes of what give people trouble but it's still helpful to know what is hindering you.
Poopsilon
#7
Mar1-12, 11:08 PM
P: 294
The only struggle for me in diffyQ was staying awake. The course is purely algorithmic, decide on the correct recipe to apply and watch your sign errors.
ZenOne
#8
Mar2-12, 05:33 AM
P: 119
^^What Poopsilon said...^^
Meadman23
#9
Mar2-12, 10:58 AM
P: 44
What helped me a lot was Schaum's Outline of Diff Eq (I used the 3rd Edition). With the book we were using, it would often just present the theory, but not an example of the theory in action. What also helped me was to understand how to identify basic forms of differential equations such seperable, homogenous, etc.

I'll also add that cramster helped loads to. Many times you might get the right answer, but be unsure of it was coincidence or the correct method. Using cramster, I could follow the steps and see if they matched up with mine.
Mmm_Pasta
#10
Mar2-12, 12:14 PM
P: 225
Quote Quote by Meadman23 View Post
I'll also add that cramster helped loads to. Many times you might get the right answer, but be unsure of it was coincidence or the correct method. Using cramster, I could follow the steps and see if they matched up with mine.
There isn't always one way to get the correct answer. Also, I have seen quite a bit of mistakes on that site.
bpatrick
#11
Mar2-12, 02:40 PM
P: 125
I've never known anybody having troubles in an ODE course if they were adequately prepared for it, it's pretty cut and dry algorithmic solutions and whatnot ... and if you did fine in calc 1-3 not sure what the problem would be ... linear algebra maybe? If that's the problem, then just start reviewing the most important computational sections of LA for ODEs (determinants, wronskian, eigenvalues/vectors).

I guess some profs may put some 1st order problems on their exams that involve solving tricky integrals ... if that has been a problem, spend time reviewing integration by parts, trig substitutions, and partial fractions decomposition.

Other than that, my best advice would be to make an outline for yourself ... maybe a page long on the categories of DEs (with examples) you're dealing with and then their solution methods. Examples:

x^2y'=Ay >>>>>>>> separate to get x's on one side and y's on the other then integrate and solve for y.

Ay'' + By' + Cy = 0 >>>>>>>>>> solve Ad^2 + Bd + C = 0 for d by factoring or quadratic formula, then putting the solutions into y=(c1)e^(d1)x + (c2)e^(d2)x ... or making whatever adjustments you need (like repeated roots, converting e^(a+bi) stuff into sin/cos, etc...)

Ax^2y'' + Bxy' + Cy = 0 (cauchy-euler) >>>>>>> solved by y=x^p ... substituting, and solving for your p values.

so yeah just do that for everything you've learned so you have a cheat sheet to use until it's all second nature.

to make it second nature, just practice loads of problems, and try to do it randomly (possibly by having a friend pick problems for you from various sections of your book and writing them down for you to solve in a jumbled order), so you won't already know the solution method ahead of time due to the section of the book you're in (since all the problems in section 3.2 or whatever are the same solution method = just repeating the same thing over and over rather than having to analyze which solution method to use like you'll have to do on exams).
Meadman23
#12
Mar2-12, 07:54 PM
P: 44
Quote Quote by Mmm_Pasta View Post
There isn't always one way to get the correct answer. Also, I have seen quite a bit of mistakes on that site.
It's true there is more than one way and there may be errors there, but I still maintain the sites helpfulness.
Jorriss
#13
Mar2-12, 08:02 PM
P: 1,072
I thought ODEs wasn't too bad but there were some tricky problems in the class. One of the problems was taking this higher order differential equation and turning into a 4 x 4 system of differential equations. That was tricky.
psparky
#14
Mar3-12, 07:43 AM
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P: 766
Diff EQ is one of your tougher courses in engineering.

You are suppose to be struggling, therefore you are right on track. Congratulations.

The only thing that is going to help you.....is hours and hours and hours of studying. There is no shortcut. Eventually, the bell will ring and you will pass a test. Keep in mind too....your fellow students are also struggling...you are not alone!
ZenOne
#15
Mar3-12, 08:46 AM
P: 119
I disagree--ODE is NOT one of the harder courses in engineering--did you have to do dynamics? Mass and heat transfer? Mechanical vibrations? ODE is a joke compared to those--IMO, of course.

Hell--calculus 3 (for engineers, with all the application problems) was harder than ODE.
psparky
#16
Mar3-12, 09:52 AM
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P: 766
Quote Quote by ZenOne View Post
I disagree--ODE is NOT one of the harder courses in engineering--did you have to do dynamics? Mass and heat transfer? Mechanical vibrations? ODE is a joke compared to those--IMO, of course.

Hell--calculus 3 (for engineers, with all the application problems) was harder than ODE.
Difference of opinion. I thought dynamics was simple.....and I thought calc 3 was a cake walk because it was identical to calc II with just the extra z dimension that followed the same rules. Didn't take the other two because I'm an EE.

Diff EQ is just tough because it's a different way of thinking.

Just my opinion though.
ZenOne
#17
Mar3-12, 10:19 AM
P: 119
I agree Dynamics is not the hardest but it is harder than ODE simply because it involves thinking--ODE does not IMO. As someone pointed out--it's a cookbook type class. Oh--Bernoulli--apply method. Oh, Cauchy-Euler--apply method.

Like you said--difference of opinion--I respect that.
dijkarte
#18
Mar14-12, 11:43 PM
P: 200
I blame the lecturer :D

Well if you are taking a course and you usually do or did well in other courses even less advanced, then I definitely blame the instructor. I had a bad experience with some of the most beautiful topics in math to find out later it was not my fault or any student at the same class. It was the teacher who deliberately succeeded in making us hate the subject at that time. And he was enjoying it. It's not about bad teaching skills, it comes to the fact that some uni's try to make many student re-take the course so they can upgrade their marks., so simply it's $$$ matters. However I've encountered teachers with very bad teaching skills so we had to do much work on our end, but we did well because the teacher's intention was not to screw up students for whatever psycho-economic reasons. When the instructor lacks the teaching skills, then I'm with the argument that get a good mark and do it later yourself.


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