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Fall Semester 2009 of a MATH major

  1. Aug 3, 2009 #1
    Hello everyone,

    So there is only one month left between my glorious summer and the beginning of my fall semester, also the beginning of my intensive mathematics major. This fall I'm planning on taking a total of FIVE advanced math courses in the undergraduate school where I'm at. Besides from these, I will not be taking any other general requirement courses (since I completed about 90% of those anyway). So my fall course list is as follow:

    Advanced Real Analysis (first sequence)
    Abstract Algebra (first sequence)
    Number Theory
    Complex Analysis
    Advanced Linear Algebra

    Now, I have been preparing a little bit for real analysis, and I have seen some elementary abstract algebra results and theorems. I also have done some computational linear algebra and proof techniques. Nonetheless, I'm scared out of my mind! I LOVE math, and there are just so many courses I want to take that I know I won't be able to by the end of my undergraduate career. I will already be a junior this fall, so time is short and that's the reason for this crazy schedule. Do you guys think this schedule is crazy? Will I be able to retain some sanity and life outside of scribbling formulas and waking up in the middle of the night drench in sweat and screaming eureka! I'm optimistic, and I must say, very excited to learn what is awaiting. But I want to have a little fun too! I'm the type of guy who can get lost in numbers and will scramble for a pen and paper to experiment with random bursts of insights into a math problem.
  2. jcsd
  3. Aug 3, 2009 #2
    Wow, that's a pretty hefty courseload. Personally I never took analysis or algebra (I was a math major, but I knew I was going to grad school in physics so I didn't take any of the "real" math courses). However, the people I knew who did take these courses usually spent four to five hours every week on the homework. Complex analysis isn't that bad, it's actually pretty straight forward. And the advanced linear algebra, if it was anything like my applied linear algebra course, should be ridculously easy. Can't say anything about number theory.

    Personally I'd have never taken such an agressive courseload in undergrad. But I wouldn't say it's not doable. I guess you just need to assess your own mathematical ability and work ethic.
  4. Aug 3, 2009 #3


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    If your numbers are right, then four hours per course on homework makes 20 hrs a week, add, what, three hours per week lectures per course makes a week of 35 hours. Is that a "hefty" week?
  5. Aug 5, 2009 #4
    I would caution against this workload. Not only will it be harder to get good grades, but your attention will be divided between so many classes that your understanding of the material will suffer as a consequence. There's a good reason why you only take three courses/semester in grad school. This could come back to haunt you when you take the Math GRE subject test. Additionally, your grades may suffer as a result. I'd recommend dropping one of those courses or postponing it until senior year. For example, if you know you want to study Algebra in grad school, take Real Analysis and Complex Analysis your senior year. Real Analysis alone (we used Baby Rudin) was 10-20/hours a week of homework.
  6. Aug 5, 2009 #5
    That is insane. Especially since you are taking a lot of pure math courses requiring more than just calculation. I strongly suggest you do not do this. 3 math classes a semester is pushing it, but 5 is insane. I received my BS in math and I took 3 math classes a couple of times and I am telling you from first hand experience that it was TOUGH, not impossible, but borderline yes. Plus, your grades will suffer as well. You will not have a life and you will not enjoy them either. Why can't you do 3 at the most, maybe 2 applied and 1 pure, for the fall?
  7. Aug 5, 2009 #6


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    I would definitely try it. I had the same problem as you: there's so many courses I want to take, so just take a lot! Since you already know a bit real analysis and abstract algebra, they won't take as much time for you as they will for others. Your abstract algebra and LA courses may have similar theorems, which makes them easier to grasp. Complex Analysis shouldn't be too difficult if you have a decent real analysis background, so this may come a bit too early.

    Good luck!
  8. Aug 5, 2009 #7


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    Three courses a semester? 5 hours homework per course, as quoted above, is 15 hours plus, say, 3 hours of lectures per course and you're talking about 24 hours. Sounds like a nice workload!
  9. Aug 5, 2009 #8
    If you're going to be taking a "real" Real Analysis course, not some watered down version, then you will most definitely be spending more than 5 hours per week on homework. With Rudin, I spent at least 10 hour/week, most of the time around 15. Same thing with Algebra. Closer to 10 hours/week. These numbers are obviously higher during test weeks, which is where you will overload yourself.
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