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Courses Does anyone know which college math course uses conics the most?

  1. Jun 16, 2011 #1
    Unfortunately my inferior Canadian education skips out at least a year of math topics in comparison with my American counterparts, so conics weren't a "huge" part of our curriculum.

    Can someone tell me what course demands existing firm knowledge of properties of parabolas (directix, focus, etc), hyperbolas (the vertices and focis) and eccentrices of conics -> conic in polar coords
  2. jcsd
  3. Jun 16, 2011 #2
    Use this & the polar coordinates chapter of a calculus book like Stewart or Thomas calculus & you'll be able for them whenever they come up.
  4. Jun 16, 2011 #3
    Conics as a 'subject' are not used much unless you actually go looking for them. Anything you need can be learned on the fly.

    Edit: That is for Math courses, I can't speak for Physics courses such as Optics. I presume that anything you need would be taught in the course, though.

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    Last edited: Jun 16, 2011
  5. Jun 16, 2011 #4
    ...are you in high school or university?
  6. Jun 16, 2011 #5
    Coming from a Canadian high school, I can say with comfort that conics did not come up all that often in university, (fortunately, I was not a fan of them in High School). In Alberta we were taught conics, and then in calculus we did solids/volumes of revolution. From my experience so far (Calc I-II and Lin Alg), the volumes of revolution come up, as do polar coordinates and what not, but not conics like you may be expecting. I wouldn't sweat it!
  7. Jun 16, 2011 #6
    Conic... as you've mentioned: parabola. I think you have learned about parabola in high school. Maybe not every property because the main purpose of high school education is to provide a general overview of mathematics to the students, so proofs and stating every property may not be all that necessary. I didn't know what hyperbola is in high school because "we are not supposed to know everything".

    I didn't know what conic means until I hit Calculus II. Maybe I did because I took pre-calculus and those properties did show up in pre-calculus. Here in US the federal government sets a guideline, or a general outline of what to cover for each subject, but the state and the local board of education have the final says. For example, I did not learn optics at my high school but my friend from another high school in the same district (basically, NYC) had optics in his high school physics program, although the state exam did not require optics. I believe California's STAR tests optics (last time I checked....).

    You will most likely hit conics again in Calculus II and vector calculus.
  8. Jun 16, 2011 #7
    I learned about them in pre-calculus type courses. They show up again when you deal with 3-D structures and study their traces in 2-D planes. Really didnt need to know anything though to specific. Apart with being familiar with the form of their general equations and maybe like definitions of each kind you'll be good.
  9. Jun 16, 2011 #8
    I think they taught conics a few years ago, but they changed the education recently so a lot of topics were removed. The provincial exams should label when it was removed.
  10. Jun 17, 2011 #9
    In Alberta, we have a unit in our Pure Math 30 (Grade 12 half-year course) that is entirely on conics.

    Throughout Pure Math 20 and 30 we learn parabolas, circles, transformations of these functions, etc. but there is also a formal unit where we learn about the double-napped cone. We cover hyperbolas, ellipses, circles, and parabolas, how they are graphed and how they are made in reference to the generator angle. We also deal with applications and degenerate cases of each in both standard and general function notation. Intersections with cylinders are also covered and cases where a plane has no locus.
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