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Courses Computer Science Major: Take Calculus-based Physics or Algebra-based?

  • Thread starter bagasme
  • Start date
24
1
Hello,

I'm currently not taking college for lack of financial support and inability to living outside my residence town.

If I take college, I will majoring into Computer Science (CS). Beside math subjects (calculus, linear algebra, discrete mathematics, etc.), I will also take introductory physics course. Algebra-based physics course for non-physics major will suffice for CS, but I heard that by taking calculus-based physics course, I can truly understand physics formulas and how they derived, and some people said that it is better than algebra-based one. However, my understanding on calculus was not up to par (e.g. difficult to solve optimization problem using derivative, doesn't know how to evaluate definite integral because my high school curriculum doesn't touch about it, difficulty on evaluating limits).

Should I take calculus-based physics course, or just stick to algebra-based physics? Is calculus-based physics worth for Computer Science major?

Regards, Bagas
 

Choppy

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Usually first year calculus-based physics courses are corequisite with first year calculus courses. So if the school has the courses tied together well, you'll be learning the calculus you need for the physics course as you need it. If this is the case for you, I wouldn't worry too much about not going in with an adequate background in calculus, but rather understand that you're going to need one to understand the other.

And you can always get a head start on anything you feel weak in right away. Rather than feeling like you just don't have a great understanding of the subject, you can always work to improve this with self-study. There are a lot of freely available resources to help you understand the basics of calculus.

As for what's better... if you really want to understand physics, or if you think you might want to study it further, you should go with the calculus-based course. The algebra-based courses tend to be taught to give students more of an overview of the subject. In some cases, it's a course for students who need to take it because it's a prerequisite for something else they want to do (*cough* med school *cough*), but don't have any serious aspirations of pursuing it any further than what's mandatory.
 
24
1
In my (wishlist) college, most CS students took algebra-based physics. But I want to took calculus-based instead because I want to really understand concepts of physics, although I will mostly work on servers.

Regarding calculus knowledge on my high school:
- I was only know how to evaluate limits using L'Ho(s)pital rule
- I had difficulties on evaluating trigonometric limits because in trigonometry course, I only taught about trigonometric identities with little or no derivation.
- I was proficient on computing derivatives of function, but difficult on solving optimization problems and implicit differentiation.
- I didn't understand integration by parts
- I only taught about indefinite integrals, and without definite integrals (although definite integrals was asked on final examinations)

In algebra course, I wasn't taught about quadratics.
 

Dr. Courtney

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My recommendation depends on how each course is taught at a given school. I don't see a big benefit from Calc-based courses for a CS major, BUT at some schools, the algebra-based Physics courses are far less dependent on quantitative problem solving.
 
24
1
Usually first year calculus-based physics courses are corequisite with first year calculus courses. So if the school has the courses tied together well, you'll be learning the calculus you need for the physics course as you need it. If this is the case for you, I wouldn't worry too much about not going in with an adequate background in calculus, but rather understand that you're going to need one to understand the other.

And you can always get a head start on anything you feel weak in right away. Rather than feeling like you just don't have a great understanding of the subject, you can always work to improve this with self-study. There are a lot of freely available resources to help you understand the basics of calculus.

As for what's better... if you really want to understand physics, or if you think you might want to study it further, you should go with the calculus-based course. The algebra-based courses tend to be taught to give students more of an overview of the subject. In some cases, it's a course for students who need to take it because it's a prerequisite for something else they want to do (*cough* med school *cough*), but don't have any serious aspirations of pursuing it any further than what's mandatory.
Is it implied that calculus-based physics are best (better than algebra-based one)?
 

Choppy

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Is it implied that calculus-based physics are best (better than algebra-based one)?
They tend to give a more complete picture of how things work and in turn, this gives you a better foundation for the more advanced material you'll encounter if you study physics any further. On the other hand they also tend to be more challenging.
 
103
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I find that calculus based physics is more intuitive given that you have a good grasp of the intuition behind derivatives and integrals (master their applications, you just need to find good learning resources and put yourself to work).
I do not know, however, whether algebra based physics would be easier. If you have no interest in physics, pick whatever you find easier.

PatrickJMT Calculus I & II

The organic chemistry tutor,
Calculus

Standalone video on optimization problems

Algebra

Trigonometry

Professor Leonard class videos (1h+ in depth lectures),
Calculus I, II & III
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLF797E961509B4EB5
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDesaqWTN6EQ2J4vgsN1HyBeRADEh4Cw-
https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLDesaqWTN6ESk16YRmzuJ8f6-rnuy0Ry7
Intermediate Algebra https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLC292123722B1B450

Suit yourself with the math.
If you prefer books, see this post here https://www.physicsforums.com/threads/free-math-books.796225/
 
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