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Advice for a productive winter break!

  1. Dec 22, 2012 #1
    Hi there!

    This is my first post on PF, so I apologize if this isn't the correct subforum for this topic, but I'm looking for your advice! I'm a first-year undergraduate with two weeks of winter break left to burn, and I've gotten my fill of the obligatory sleeping and eating and visiting with family. I want to spend the next two weeks as productively as possible, so I'd like to pose the question: with two weeks of free time, what would you do? Now, of course, there are some limitations:
    • I have a decent background in single variable calculus, but nothing much beyond that.
    • I am currently in an introductory (re: calculus-based) physics course, but from past courses I do have a pretty extensive conceptual/basic mathematical (re: some calculus) introduction to some physics, ranging from modern and particle physics to astrophysics. I also worked for a year as part of a neutrino physics group while in high school, and did some extremely basic stuff as part of that.
    • I have a pretty terrible foundation in programming, but I do have (or at least used to have) some basic knowledge of FORTRAN, C++, and Python from past coursework/working with the neutrino physics group.

    Some ideas for things to do have been to begin to solidify a better foundation in computer science and programming, probably starting by working more with Python. I'm also interested in network theory, so I've begun reading M.E.J. Newman's "Networks: An Introduction", but I'm finding that I just haven't been exposed to the concepts (particular linear algebra) to really understand where all of the mathematics is coming from. So from that, I've begun considering trying to teach myself some linear algebra from Jim Hefferson's free textbook. I'm also planning on just doing a few problems from a few chapters of my physics textbook (Young and Freedman's "University Physics"). Group theory also seems like something I'd like to expose myself to, but I don't know a good place to begin. If anyone has any other suggestions of what could be useful to do (other topics to explore or different ways to explore the aforementioned topics) for a first-year physics major interested in network theory, let me know!
  2. jcsd
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