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Calculus III or Linear Algebra? Which one should I take first?

  1. May 12, 2010 #1
    Firstly, as you may see, I'm a newbie to this forum so I apologize if I posted this question in the wrong place or violated any rules within this post. :)

    I have no idea as to which to take first. The course description for Linear Algebra says that "Calculus III is recommended but no required" as a core-requisite. I asked a teacher at school and he suggested I take Calculus III first. I asked my Dad (He's a Mathematical Physicist) and he suggested I take Linear Algebra first. The consensus on some other sites where other people asked the same questions is pretty even in both directions. Some say take Linear Algebra and some say take Calculus III. The course descriptions are as follows:

    Calculus III:
    Vectors, vector-valued functions. Calculus of functions of several variables: partial derivatives, gradient, divergence, curl, multiple integrals, line integrals, Stokes' and Green's theorems. Prerequisite: 22.

    (22 is Calculus II)

    Linear Algebra:
    Matrices, linear dependence, vector spaces, linear transformations, characteristic equations and applications. Prerequisites: 22 or instructor's permission. Core-requisite: MATH 121 recommended but not required.

    (121 is Calculus III)

    Calculus III has a much smaller enrollment for this particular class (only 6 out of 25) whereas Linear Algebra has much large enrollment of 21 out of 25 students enrolled. However, Calculus III meets three days a week for 2 and a half hours a day (for about 5 weeks) whereas Linear Algebra only meets two days a week for three and a half hours a day (for about 5 weeks).

    I have no idea which class to take first. Any recommendations? I'm taking this over the summer at a local university. I won't be able to take both concurrently as the Linear Algebra course description recommends.

    Any suggestions? Any opinions?

    Thanks!! :)

    (I also posted this in another thread -- sorry!)
  2. jcsd
  3. May 12, 2010 #2
    What classes do you intend on taking during the fall semester?
  4. May 12, 2010 #3
    I took both classes concurrently last fall and there really wasn't any overlap. I think you would be fine with either taking Cal III before Linear Algebra or vice versa.
  5. May 12, 2010 #4


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    Linear Algebra. I took LA before Multivariable Calculus, and I was able to understand and develop the intuition for MVC using LA.
  6. May 12, 2010 #5
    Fragment, I think I'll start off with Diff. EQs. Not sure what I want to take after that...
    Last edited: May 12, 2010
  7. May 12, 2010 #6


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    This question has already been asked here, about 1 year ago if I remember well.
    In my university linear algebra is a prerequisite to vector calculus. I think it's a good choice. In vector calculus you'll see the Jacobian, which is a determinant of a matrix. You can memorize how to construct the matrix and calculate the determinant, but if you didn't have any introduction to linear algebra, it's a bit of a non-sense in my opinion.
  8. May 12, 2010 #7
    So you're saying that I should take LA first?
  9. May 12, 2010 #8


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    From my own experience, yes. Also the description of your courses is very similar to the ones I had. I don't see how you can go wrong taking first LA and then Calc III.
  10. May 12, 2010 #9
    OK, thanks! :)
  11. May 17, 2010 #10
    Just signed up for LA :)
  12. May 17, 2010 #11


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    Good luck! Study hard.
  13. May 17, 2010 #12
    Thanks!! :)
  14. May 17, 2010 #13
    I am taking Calc III right now with no Linear Algebra, I am doing okay, but I have a minor understanding of matrices, so I would advice LA first
  15. May 18, 2010 #14
    OK, thanks for the advice! :)
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