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Advice for a Freshman

  1. Apr 27, 2008 #1
    I will be Freshman next year at the University of Utah majoring in Math. Two years ago I took Calc BC, and this past year I just took this semester class covering Calculus I and II, and another semester covering Calc III and I've done pretty good, but not amazing. I want to take Linear Algebra next year, but here comes my question. Would it be a bad idea to also take a Discrete Mathematics class on top of Linear Algebra? Would that be too much math for my first full semester in college life? Would taking extra classes like this early be advantages somehow in the long run if I wanted to go into math as a career, giving more time for other things in the future? Both classes seem very exciting to me. Any thoughts someone might have would be helpful. Thank you.
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 27, 2008 #2
    Linear Algebra is a very easy (and boring) class. You should be fine taking it along with another math class.
  4. Apr 28, 2008 #3
    Discrete Math is also very easy, at my school its what the arts students take who need a math credit and is generally filled with mathematically retarded people. I hated it sooo much.
  5. May 4, 2008 #4
    Funnily enough at my school its only for Math Majors. Unfortunately they fit the exact same category. They all want to be math teachers. The only problem is they don't wanna learn how to do math. I cringe everytime someone says "When the hell will we ever use this crap?".

    It makes me sick :yuck:

    I really really need to find a more competitive school.
  6. May 4, 2008 #5
    Are you serious? I've heard that question a thousand times in high school, but...
  7. May 4, 2008 #6
    I'm going to assume your talking to me...

    But yea at my University most of the students are even less motiviated than high school students.

    Be prepared to be asked ridiculous questions on a regular basis such as "Why are you taking that class if it's not required?", "You can't get a job with that major!" and my personal favorite "How come you dropped your education major?"
    Which is quite funny especially since I never was an education major. I'm relatively sure there is only one other person in my entire school who is actually planning on being a Mathematician but he's a physics double major so i'm not even sure of that.

    Physics is almost as bad but not quite. Most of the people in physics are football players on scholarships who are engineering majors and frequently miss class for football related crap.

    I don't mind people doing what they want to do but if you take a class you need for your major at least act interested in it.:rofl:

    I should also mention that in my discrete math class there are only 4 of us out of 30 that are passing. Everyone was laughing the other day because they are certain the Professor can't "Get away with it" .

    The Professor however is always enthusiastic and knowledgeable and does everything in his power to try and make everyone understand the material. The man must have infinite patience.

    I have a feeling I'm going to have a tough time as a Professor one day if I make it that far. I would have very little tolerance for people so unwilling to try and learn.
  8. May 4, 2008 #7
    Wow if my college turns out to be anything remotely close to that I may have to hang myself. I didn't think people taking higher level math courses could be so ignorant!
  9. May 4, 2008 #8
    @the original poster. It's hard to really say, at my university, we separated linear algebra into two groups:math majors, and everyone else. Also Discrete mathematics was an upper division course. Most likely though, yours probably has everyone take the same LA class. If that is the case, expect a super easy LA.

    Even if that isn't the case and your LA is only for math majors, it still shouldn't be bad.
  10. May 4, 2008 #9
    Yeah if you know Binomial theorem or that F=ma or the Quadratic Formula , be prepared to freak everyone out.

    Apparently my High School is the only one in the area that teaches Algebra II. Also be aware of that one clueless engineer who on the first day will raise his hand and ask your professor "So what do we do in this "Physics" class? What's it have to do with engineering?":rolleyes::rofl:

    By the way i'm not trying to offend any engineers. I have a feeling the engineers at my school are the exception not the rule.
  11. May 4, 2008 #10
    Also, undrcvrbro, don't be discouraged from going to university. There may be some ignorant people but thats life man. I can say that despite some of that crap, I have met alot of cool people on campus who are respectful and congenial.

    Also at my university the upside of the fact that there is a lack of serious students means that I get tons of one-on-one time with the Professors pretty much when ever I want to talk about the course material or research.

    If you are a serious student you will always get priority over those that just want to get a cute little mark on their transcript.

    Also note that I am a freshman, I'm certain that once Linear Algebra is done next semester pretty much all my courses will be serious people only. At least at my school Moden Algebra and Modern physics (2nd semester sophmore courses for both majors) are pretty much only offered to serious students. Although I fear that there may be some Math/Education majors dangling still when we get to Modern Algebra. If they mature more though and start respecting the professors and getting serious about their major then I won't have a problem with them.
  12. May 4, 2008 #11


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    when i was there, the university of utah was a very diverse place, with a great range of courses from VERY elementary, to quite advanced, and the faculty included some of the best mathematicians in the country.

    so there is no easy way to tell what your course level will be like just from the title. linear algebra is like english, some people teach an easy course and some teach a hard one. you need to get advice from faculty at the U.

    here is the utah undergraduate advisor's address:

    Aleksandra Jovanovic-Hacon
    204 JWB
    Last edited: May 4, 2008
  13. May 4, 2008 #12
    It must be really hot over there.
  14. May 5, 2008 #13


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    in utah? it is very cold in winter with a really long snow season.
  15. May 5, 2008 #14
    Oooh really? I might have to check it out then. I love cold weather.:smile:
  16. May 5, 2008 #15
    The weather varies, especially this time of the year. It snowed less than a week ago, but it should get up to 75+ today. We have cold winters, but the summers can get very hot too. I was planning on talking to my advisor (Aleksandra Jovanovic-Hacon) when it got closer to the time to sign up for classes, but I thought I would post it here to get a wider variety of opinions. Thanks for all the comments.
    If it means anything, there is a 'Linear Algebra' class and a 'Linear Algebra with Differential Equations' class that covers both topics for engineering and other science majors.
  17. May 9, 2008 #16
    No matter what you hear - be sure to enjoy your freshman/sophomore years above all. Those are the last truly "easy" years you will have before you have to worry about research, GREs, and applications. Remember, there's more to college than just learning Math.

    I'd say taking two Math classes per semester is pretty standard. You should have no problems taking Linear Algebra and Discrete if you made it through Calc III before graduating high school.
  18. May 13, 2008 #17
    Does anyone have a comment on taking "Foundations of Analysis I (4)
    Logic, methods of proof and mathematical argument in mathematical analysis. Rigorous reconsideration of the real-number system, infinte series and of continuity, differentiation and integration for functions of one variable.
    The emphasis is on improving the student's ability to understand and explain concepts in a logical and complete manner."
    along with Linear Algebra? Any comments on the class (or similar one) would be nice. I know that 2nd semester I will be taking a (from what I've heard from some pretty smart people and the professor) rather difficult honors physics class so I don't want to overload myself with "Foundations of Analysis II" the 2nd semester, but I suppose I could figure it out then.
  19. May 13, 2008 #18


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    If you already have a good foundation in proofs go ahead and take FA1 and LA. If not, wait a semester for FA1.
  20. May 13, 2008 #19


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    As soon as possibel learn

    real/complex analysis or calculus
    linear algebra/algebra

    All with proofs
    learn how to prove things if not already know
    These subjects provide good background so it is worthwhile to learn these soon and less central subjects like number theory and geometry until a later time.

    Also if any of your classes should be garbage be sure to self study the deficit.

    Regarding Linear algebra be warned that many classes are useless in that they spend way too much time inverting operators and computing determinants. At some schools math majors have their own class, or start on Linear Algebra 2. Everyone says it (and unlike most things everyone says it is true) linear algebra is the most important math class. Some good books are
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