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Courses Advice on spring courses?

  1. Nov 8, 2008 #1
    Hi, basically the thread title says it all; I'll be finishing differential equations, calc 3 and linear algebra this semester and was hoping to start getting into the actual upper division physics classes, I was wanting to take Modern Physics, thermodynamics and one other; the problem is my school is only offering the 2nd part to all Modern Physics, Intermediate Mechanics and Intermediate E&M and they're not offering thermodynamics next semester; the only class they're offering that I was considering was one called 'Methods in Theoretical Physics', apparently a real analysis course built around differential equations, integrals, and transformations for undergrads (a required course here), I think the lack of extra classes in the spring is due to budget cuts.

    My question is what should I do? I wanted a math minor and my school allows for certain computer science courses to be used for it but I must say I've only taken one comp sci course and I've forgotten most of my programming, haven't been practicing. I was thinking about taking the theoretical physics course and retaking the comp sci course, any other ideas you could think of?

    I was also considering asking a few professors if I could help with research since it would appear currently I'll have the time on my hands, any help is appreciated.
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 8, 2008 #2
    In physics: Are there required advanced labs or electronics courses?

    In math: how about some form of a fourier analysis/ boundary value / partial differential equation (PDE) class? This will be extremely helpful in quantum and E&M, and is probably an upperlevel math that would count towards a minor.

    Getting involved in research, if the opportunity presents itself, is also a good idea. More and more graduate programs are looking for 2 REU experiences as well as home-institution work.
  4. Nov 8, 2008 #3
    there is this course that sounds interesting, I think its the PDE course you were talking about:

    MAP 4401 Advanced Differential Equations (3). A second course in differential equations. Topics may include: Bessel functions and other special functions arising from classical differential equations, Sturm-Liouville problems, partial differential equations, transform techniques. Prerequisites: MAP 2302 and MAC 2313. (S)

    no labs or electronics courses on the physics front though.
  5. Nov 8, 2008 #4
    Yeah: that would likely be a good one. If you've taken a differential equations course, this one can usually be taken right afterward. The class I took used a (now out-of-date) version of Boundary Value Problems by David L. Powers. It's my absolute favorite book from undergrad, and I rather regret the fact that I bought it in such poor "used" condition (already in two halves! :rofl:). Maybe some of this is because I was conned into the class by a friend who wanted someone else they knew in the class... and I didn't expect it to help me so much with my next terms physics classes!

    Other math courses that would eventually be good to take: Complex Analysis and Real Analysis (I took Real without the prerequisite "Intermediate Analysis" and it kicked my rear, but in a good way! Complex Analysis is probably more appropriate for physics majors than Real Analysis... although some people might think you need Real Analysis before Complex.)

    If electronics wasn't offered or required in your physics curriculum, it might be good to eventually consider taking a few electrical engineering courses that focus on circuits.
  6. Nov 8, 2008 #5
    I've heard of complex and real analysis from math majors, maybe; also there is an electronics course offered by the physics department that focuses on circuits but it's not being offered this semester, why do you suggest it btw?

    edit: there are no courses under the names Real/Complex analysis but does this course fit the description you're talking about?

    MAD 3401 Numerical Analysis (3). Basic ideas and techniques of numerical analysis. Topics include: finite differences, interpolation, solution of equations, numerical integration and differentiation, applications, introduction to applied linear algebra. This course will make extensive laboratory use of the computer facility. Prerequisites: COP 2210 or CGS 2420 and MAC 2312. (F,S,SS)

    or this?

    MAA 4402 Complex Variables (3). An introduction to complex variables, beginning with the algebra and geometry of the complex number system. Topics include: complex functions; analytic functions; Cauchy's theorem and its consequences; Taylor and Laurent series; residue calculus; evaluation of real integrals and summation of series; conformal mapping. Prerequisites: MAC 2313, and MAP 2302 or MAA 4211. (F)
    Last edited: Nov 8, 2008
  7. Nov 8, 2008 #6
    I suggest it because for many schools, 1-2 semesters of electronics courses are required for the physics major (I've assumed since your first post you are majoring in physics and possibly minoring in math). If you intend to pursue either employment right after undergrad, or any experimental research in the future, it will be very helpful to have electronics basics (as equipment often needs fixed in simple ways... or sometimes you can build you own simple circuits for some tasks. These skill can save $ and time (which is $, right?).

    The course "MAA 4402 Complex Variables (3)" is more along the lines of what I was talking about (I took my similar Complex Analysis course my junior or senior year tho'). The first course "MAD 3401 Numerical Analysis (3)" might be interesting though. Many students that work under more theoretical research programs do lots of simulation work, so knowing some of these techniques in more detail would be useful if you are planning on pursuing that route. When I was an undergraduate, my university had a "computational physics" course that many students took their sophomore year (before they took quantum and E&M). Note, however, that the course you list has a lot of prerequisites/co-requisites, so that might factor a bit in.

    Also... your idea of pursuing research was a good one too. I started some research my sophomore year (in a chemistry department... and although it was what ultimately made me switch to physics instead, it was still good, applicable research that helped me develop lots of skills... I just didn't want to work with a chemical (COCF2) similar, but worse, than phosgene(COCl2).. a compound used in chemical warefare! :surprised )

    It seems like you have lots of ideas now... good luck figuring out what to do! :biggrin:
  8. Nov 8, 2008 #7
    are you in the florida system? those courses codes are the same as for my school - i'm taking MAA 4402 next semester.

    take the math methods class, take the complex variables class, don't take the numerical analysis class. what school do you go to?
  9. Nov 9, 2008 #8
    phd girl - thanks for all the info!

    yeah, I go to florida international unversity; the only problem with the complex variables class is it is one of the pre-reqs for it has like 2-3 other classes before that, or do any of you think calc 3 and differential equations is enough?

    edit: I found real/complex analysis btw, they're both grad classes, lol; I could take real after this semester though as it says I can use linear algebra as a prereq
    Last edited: Nov 9, 2008
  10. Nov 9, 2008 #9
    i don't understand? are you worried about prereqs? if so then don't worry you meet them.
  11. Nov 14, 2008 #10
    bumping this thread abit, looking over the coursework for the physics degree at my school vs the applied math degree offered here, it shows I could potentially graduate a year early with applied math vs physics; I'm actually more interested in physics than the pure math but math major seems more economical at this point, I was thinking of going along that route and sticking to mainly modeling, simulation courses and taking physics electives to even the course work out, any thoughts?
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