As a year II physics major, when should I take linear algebra

In summary, the conversation discusses the importance of taking linear algebra for physics students and when it is typically taken at the university. The speaker expresses their concern about not taking it early on and receiving conflicting advice from their advisor. They also mention the use of linear algebra in advanced physics and their schedule limitations for taking the course.
  • #1
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After seeing so much higher-level physics and proofing for special relativity, I imagine I'll need to take this at some point to continue do grad-level physics. I'm taking calc III at the start of year two, and then on to diff eq. When should I take linear algebra in that case? My adviser seemed to think I could wait to take it - and it's not even a requirement at my university's program - but seeing late classes convinces me that I need to take it at some point.
 
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  • #2
At my university, physics students take linear algebra in their first semester of their first year together with the mathematic students. I can't imagine how a physicist doesn't use linear algebra.
 
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  • #3
Tyler DeFrancesco said:
After seeing so much higher-level physics and proofing for special relativity, I imagine I'll need to take this at some point to continue do grad-level physics. I'm taking calc III at the start of year two, and then on to diff eq. When should I take linear algebra in that case? My adviser seemed to think I could wait to take it - and it's not even a requirement at my university's program - but seeing late classes convinces me that I need to take it at some point.
How did you manage to solve multivariate differential equation systems? With vectors, matrices and tensors basically everywhere in physics, I cannot understand the advice you've been given.
 
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  • #4
Ar my university linear algebra is among the courses students take first. Trying to do any kind of advanced physics without linear algebra is like trying to fill a bathtub from a lake using only a teaspoon.
 
  • #5
Take linear algebra with either of the other math classes. You'll probably be taking a lot of your physics classes your 3rd year, so take it before then.
 
  • #6
Math_QED said:
At my university, physics students take linear algebra in their first semester of their first year together with the mathematic students. I can't imagine how a physicist doesn't use linear algebra.
I guess it's because this sort of stuff kind of gets integrated into our fundamental physics courses (the major-specific ones), as well as the calcs. Linear algebra is not usually taken until at least year 2 in my university it seems, unless you're an already-started math major. I know a lot of first-semester sophomores take it with multivariable, but I'll end up doing it with diff eq. My schedule is a little too loaded to take another math course.
 

1. When should I take linear algebra as a year II physics major?

It is recommended to take linear algebra in your second year of undergraduate studies as a physics major. This will give you a solid foundation in mathematical concepts that are essential for understanding advanced physics topics.

2. Do I need to take linear algebra before or after calculus?

It is typically recommended to take calculus before linear algebra, as some of the concepts in linear algebra build upon those learned in calculus. However, this may vary depending on your university's curriculum.

3. How will linear algebra benefit me as a physics major?

Linear algebra is crucial for understanding many advanced topics in physics, such as quantum mechanics and electromagnetism. It also provides a strong foundation for solving complex mathematical problems in physics.

4. Can I take linear algebra at the same time as other physics courses?

Yes, it is possible to take linear algebra alongside other physics courses. However, it is important to make sure you have enough time and resources to dedicate to each course, as linear algebra can be a challenging subject.

5. What are some resources for studying linear algebra as a physics major?

Some recommended resources for studying linear algebra as a physics major include textbooks such as "Linear Algebra and Its Applications" by David Lay and online courses such as MIT's "Linear Algebra" course on OpenCourseWare. It is also beneficial to attend lectures and participate in study groups with other physics students.

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