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Algebraic Physics to Calculus based

  1. Aug 28, 2010 #1
    I'm taking university physics now, calculus based. I took algebraic physics in high school and did really well. But algebra is easy. Calculus can be confusing and what i'm looking for a site or a book that can help me translate algebraic physics into calculus. Does anybody know of any good sources?
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 28, 2010 #2

    Vanadium 50

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    I can pretty much guarantee that the strategy "translate algebraic physics into calculus" will not work. They really have to be approached differently - algebra-based is much more "pick this formula for that problem" and calculus-based is much more "understand the underlying principles". Trying to fit one square peg into the other round hole is unlikely to work well.
  4. Aug 28, 2010 #3
    Then calculus based physics requires a deeper understanding of fundamental physics than algebraic does?
  5. Aug 28, 2010 #4
    Hm, Heisenberg and Schrödinger each developped their own quantum theory: the former using algebra, the latter using calculus. In the end it was proven both were mathematically equivalent. So I don't think one implies a deeper understanding that the other. I suppose the calculus is easier for interpretation, but that might also be a downside :eek:
  6. Aug 29, 2010 #5
    You will find that both university algebra ( groups, rings, modules, linear algebra and so on) and university calculus are developed a long way beyond their high school counterparts.

    To effectively study physics at higher level you will need both. There is some unifying theory as well, which helps when you have covered enough to draw it all together. In the beginning there is a huge amount of what seems like disparate material, but when you become more familiar you will see that there are many unifying threads and principles.

    You will also find that, since algebra is inherently easier (or at least less laborious) than calculus, there are techniques, such as the Laplace transform, to reduce calculus questions to algebra ones. This is the opposite direction from your question. As Vanadium has said it is not recommended to try to go the other way.
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