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Courses Courses for freshman year in physics

  1. Jun 30, 2010 #1
    1. My school's divided into 4 terms per year.

    2. I decided to rack up on math completely for the first year. To begin with, I'm told that no one can decide for me what's the best way to arrange my schedule, I just know I'd hate taking a physics course and its prerequisite concurrently. Also, I'm undecided on my major. The more practical issue is that the math department is much smaller than the physics department here: there are some courses which are only offered in alternating years (I'm planning to take abstract algebra, an upper course in PDEs, an upper course in ODEs and an upper course in complex analysis next year) or terms, while I have no lack physics courses to sign up for when I need to, even during the summer.

    3. I don't think I'm good at math. I do have nearly 1 year of credit (calculus, ODEs, linear algebra, statistics, mechanics, electromagnetism, intros to thermodynamics/QM/special relativity) and a gap year of self-study. I felt that some of my picks are a little ambitious, so don't hold back on the criticisms.

    4. Please advise - should I take some of these later, substitute any with prerequisite courses? And I don't know what to fill for the empty bits - maybe some programming? Thanks!

    Boundary value problems
    Real analysis

    Group theory
    Differential geometry
    Boundary value problems (cont.d)
    Real analysis (cont.d)

    Complex variables with applications
    Calculus of variations
    Fourier transforms and distributions

    Partial differential equations
    Fourier transforms and distributions (cont.d)
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 30, 2010 #2
    Wow, I wish I had your schedule! Doesn't your university make you do general requirements.. like history, english, and other foolish things?
  4. Jul 1, 2010 #3
    Exactly how long are these terms? If they are just normal terms cut in half, it seems odd you'd be able to have a genuine course on group theory, for example, without it just being a brief introduction. Other than that, it looks like a fun and productive year - solid courses.
  5. Jul 2, 2010 #4
    Okay, I'm happy to have both of your reassurances. Most of my classmates seem to be taking mixes of mechanics; calculus 3 or 4; differential equations; and some electives for the start, and I was feeling alienated.

    ^Oh, I'm glad I'm not the only one who hates those "foolish things"! There's only the restriction that I have to complete them before I'm awarded my degree... I'm aiming to finish those related to my major/cores first, and spend the last year of college doing the electives to meet their requirements for "foolish things"...

    ^Yep, they're normal terms cut in half. I had that feeling too - they offer separate courses in rings, fields, Galois theory for completeness, I guess.

    By the way, my school doesn't accept my calculus 4 credit. Should I take calculus 4 for credit for 1-3, and the sake of a possibly earlier graduation, or pursue more meaningful courses with the time?
  6. Jul 2, 2010 #5
    Well, I thought that I should do the opposite of what you were doing. That is, take all my humanities classes and whatnot at a community college and then transfer to a university to take the 'real' classes. But let me tell you.. you definitely need some exciting things in your life. Without much motivation, I'd probably hate my life if I had to take all humanities in one or two semesters.

    Just a thought.
  7. Jul 2, 2010 #6
    I like that idea, taking as much as you can at community college first. Taking lower division classes at a university is a big waste of money.
  8. Jul 2, 2010 #7


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    real analysis for a physics major?
  9. Jul 2, 2010 #8
    As much as I love your schedule, the calc 3 and 4 and diff equations courses would probably be more relevant to any physics courses you take than things like abstract algebra, group theory, analysis and differential geometry. Honestly, those probably won't be helpful for any courses you take before graduate school. Also, I'm surprised that your calculus of variations course doesn't have calc 4 as a prereq. Since I don't know what your options are, I can't offer much advice. Programming is a great idea though, as it could get you some leverage into computational physics. Physicists with very strong math backgrounds who can program are in short supply and can achieve alot in fields like QCD where analytic solutions are impossible or not known to be possible.
  10. Jul 4, 2010 #9
    Sure, I'll keep that in mind. There are a few areas of humanities which I actually enjoy and should be able to clear my requirements through: economics, music, design, perhaps a foreign language. (I really hate PE and literature classes though.) But getting to masquerade as an arts major for a semester or two shouldn't be that bad!

    The course is actually "measure theory and Lebesgue integration". I'm taking it earlier than I wanted to, [STRIKE]but[/STRIKE] since (edit) I thought it's best to schedule it before partial differential equations.

    You're right, calc 4 is recommended as a prerequisite. But my college doesn't enforce the prerequisites. Here's the other options that I have in mind, mostly for widening the breadth of my foundation:

    Applied statistics
    Linear programming
    Discrete mathematics (computational course)

    Numerical methods for ODEs
    Continuum modeling
    Discrete optimization
    Principles of statistics

    I'll look for a programming course as tipped!
    Last edited: Jul 4, 2010
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