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Diff. Equations or Linear Algebra

  1. Apr 18, 2013 #1
    Hello All,

    First post here. I going to be taking summer school to get some classes out of the way and am deciding whether or not to take Ordinary Diff. Eqn's or Linear Algebra.

    Any help would be appreciated on the difficulty of the courses and what is covered.
    Thanks in advance.
    Last edited by a moderator: Apr 18, 2013
  2. jcsd
  3. Apr 18, 2013 #2
    You need to know Linear Algebra in order to learn Differential Equations so take Linear Algebra first.
  4. Apr 18, 2013 #3
    This is not true for most ODE classes (I would check with your professors). Sure, Linear Algebra is useful to know, but topics such as eigenvalues and linear independence can be picked up without much trouble.

    Both are very important in pure math as well it's applications, so it really depends on your interests. ODE will feel very similar to Calculus because you are integrating and deriving, while Linear Algebra will rarely require calculus. Because Algebra is often characterized as the study of structure, you will study "larger" (in some sense) sets of vectors in Linear Algebra. ODE will develop and study specific techniques for specific functions.
  5. Apr 19, 2013 #4
    ^ This.

    Pretty much sums it up; however, if I were you I'd go ahead and take ODE.
  6. Apr 20, 2013 #5
    I highly recommend taking linear algebra before taking multivariable calculus or ODE. I think that you will have a better perspective in this two courses by learning linear algebra first. That has been my experience. Knowing about vector spaces, spanning sets and bases, etc. before ODE can help with developing additional insight and intuition when learning ODE. Sure, you can learn ODE without linear algebra; but I think you will get more out of it knowing linear algebra than not.
  7. Apr 22, 2013 #6
    I'm currently enrolled in Differential Equations and have never taken Linear Algebra. However, my teacher has explained all of the linear algebra tricks we'd need to know (specifically matrix math and eigenvectors and values)
  8. Apr 23, 2013 #7
    I'd say that while you don't need linear algebra for ODEs, I'd still take it first. That way, when you do take ODEs, you'll be ahead of the class.

    In terms of difficulty, linear algebra is pretty easy. DEs vary from person to person. I found them incredibly easy, but some people think they are difficult.
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