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Choosing a post differential equations math course.

  1. Feb 17, 2006 #1
    Does anyone have any thoughts on this? I don't really really immediately plan on doing any graduate work, although it is a possiblity. Through my first few EE classes, though, I've gathered that a class in matrix algebra or linear algebra would be very beneficial, although it is not required at my school.

    I'm not sure if this is universal, but here, matrix algebra is more on application, and linear algebra is more proofs/theory.

    Any suggestions? Is it even worth it to take more math?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 17, 2006 #2
    Yes, matrix algebra would be very useful. Beyond that, it depends on what field of EE you want to go in to. For example, if you want to go in to signal processing, it would be beneficial to take a high level course in probability.

    However, matrix algebra is a course that is universally useful for all EE majors.
  4. Feb 18, 2006 #3
    Really? I am a junior in EE. The only thing I ever used from matrix algebra was how to solve system of equations.
  5. Feb 18, 2006 #4
    Then you should ask your school for your money back! :smile: Just kidding, I'm sure you'll find more uses for linear algebra soon enough.

    As Maxwell has mentioned it depends on your specialisation. For example, PDEs might be worthwhile if you're into radio engineering, coding/information theory is good for communications, dynamical systems is good if you're interested in controls, etc.

    I don't think your mathematical education is complete until you've taken at least an introductory linear algebra course. For me, it nicely tied together a lot of the loose threads in the tapestry of my mathematical knowledge.

    Have you considered taking something with a numerical flavour? See what your school offers in that department, it could be helpful.

    Personally, I'm not taking any math papers this year (my third year of EE) since I don't have room for it in my schedule. But that's okay, because I'm at the stage now where I feel I can self-study any math I need to know. Maybe you're at that stage too? Definitely consider Linear algebra though.
  6. Feb 18, 2006 #5
    Thanks alot, could you be a little more specific when you say numerical flavour? How would this help? Do you mean something in the direction of complex analysis, tha'd definetly be valuable I think.

    Also, I don't think I'm far enough into my ee program to decide on a more specific branch, so I think I'll definetly take either linear algebra or matrix algebra next year, it seems to be more universally applicable.
  7. Feb 18, 2006 #6
    A knowledge of numerical methods is always a good thing for engineers to have. It's probably not as valuable in EE as in Mech. Eng. or something like that, but it's still worth considering. You would learn about numerical techniques for solving large linear systems, computing eigenvalues, solving DEs, etc. You may have done some of this already, but if you haven't you might like to. I took a numerical analysis course in my first year that was based around Matlab and the simulink package. I learned about various numerical methods while gaining practical experience in Matlab, so that was pretty cool.

    Complex analysis would probably be good too considering the important role complex numbers play in EE. I don't know of any specific applications of this, but I'm sure it would give you a deeper understanding of integral transform techniques, which is good if you're into signal processing.

    But before you do anything else, you should take a linear algebra class. Not neccessarily a super-advanced one, but just so that you'll understand your EE lecturers when they speak of eigenvalues, state space, etc. The linear algebra course I did last year had a sort of pre-abstract algebra emphasis. It was much more rigorous and theoretical than any other math class I'd taken and a lot of it was completely tangential to what I was interested in learning, but I'm still glad I took the class.
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