Help With First Year Schedule - Physics Hons.

  • Thread starter Oriako
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  • #1
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Main Question or Discussion Point

Hi!
I'm taking an honours degree in physics next year at the University of Alberta and am registering for courses. This is what my current schedule looks like:
Fall Semester:
http://img16.imageshack.us/i/fallterm2011schedule.png/

Winter Semester:
http://img291.imageshack.us/i/winterterm2012schedule.png/

Course Descriptions:
Fall Semester
MATH 117 - Honors Calculus I
Functions, continuity, and the derivative. Applications of
the derivative. Extended limits and L’Hospital’s rule.

MATH 127 - Honors Linear Algebra I
Systems of linear equations; vectors in Euclidean
n-space; span and linear independence in Euclidean n-space; dot and cross
product; orthogonality; lines and planes; matrix arithmetic; determinants; introduction
to eigenvectors and eigenvalues; introduction to linear transformations; complex
numbers; vector space axioms; subspaces and quotients.

EAS 100 - Planet Earth
Introduction to the origin and evolution of the
Earth and the solar system. Introduction to plate tectonics and the rock cycle.
Simple energy balances and interactions between radiation and the atmosphere,
land, oceans, ice masses, and the global hydrological cycle. Evolution of life,
biogeography, and global climate in the context of geologic time. The carbon cycle.
Human interaction with the Earth. Mineral and energy resources.

PHYS 144 - Newtonian Mechanics and Relativity

A calculus-based course for students majoring in
the physical sciences. Newtonian mechanics, including kinematics, dynamics,
conservation of momentum and energy, rotational motion and angular momentum;
special relativistic kinematics and dynamics, including length contraction, time
dilation, and the conservation of energy and momentum in special relativity.

PHIL 120 - Symbolic Logic I
A study of sentential logic, including translation,
semantics, decision procedures and natural deduction followed by an introduction
to predicate logic, concentrating on translation.

Winter Semester
MATH 118 - Honors Calculus II
Integration and the Fundamental Theorum. Techniques
and applications of integration. Derivatives and integrals of the exponential, and
trigonometric functions. Introduction to infinite series. Introduction to partial
derivatives.

MATH 227 - Honors Linear Algebra II
OE3 (fi 6) (second term, 3-0-0). Review of vector space axioms, subspaces and
quotients; span; linear independence; Gram-Schmidt process; projections; methods
of least squares; linear transformations and their matrix representations with respect
to arbitrary bases; change of basis; eigenvectors and eigenvalues; triangularization
and diagonalization; canonical forms (Schur, Jordan, spectral theorem).

ASTRO 122 - Astronomy of Stars and Galaxies
OE3 (fi 6) (either term, 3-0-0). The development of our understanding of the
universe, including current models of stellar evolution and cosmology. Emphasis
on understanding the physical processes underlying astronomical phenomena.
Viewing experience will be available using the campus observatory.

PHYS 146 - Fluids and Waves
A calculus-based course for students majoring in
the physical sciences. Fluid statics and dynamics, elasticity and simple harmonic
motion; sound waves, wave properties of light; quantum waves, wave-particle duality.

PHIL 200 - Metaphysics
OE3 (fi 6) (either term, 3-0-0). Basic questions concerning the nature of reality.
Topics may include existence, materialism and idealism, freedom and determinism,
appearance and reality, causality, identity, time and space, universals and
particulars.

Do you think Symbolic logic would be a good course to take as an aid to understanding proof-based thinking, etc? Would you recommend a night class (Phil 120) or should I attempt to have all my classes done by 4-5PM.

Any other comments or suggestions would be great. Let me know!
Thank you,
-Sam
 

Answers and Replies

  • #2
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My professor tells me that anything with "honors (name of math course- i.e. LA)" is a waste of time
 
  • #3
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My professor tells me that anything with "honors (name of math course- i.e. LA)" is a waste of time
Fortunately, what you or, supposedly, your professor say does not apply to the University of Alberta.

Oriako, as far as Symbolic Logic is concerned, I don't know if it'd be helpful in regards to understanding proof-based thinking. It might or it might not (I'm leaning more towards no, but again, maybe it would help you). The thing is, though, that with Calculus I you're going to be thrown into proofs right from the get-go. You'll be explained the various techniques and you'll ease into it, but you will be doing proofs all throughout the term. Linear Algebra I will be a bit less rigorous and more concept based. You'll still encounter proofs and such, but to a lesser degree than in Calculus. Or maybe just in a different way. I don't know, it's hard to explain, and this isn't to say Linear Algebra will be easier, far from it, it's just going to be different. In any case, in your second term that will switch up and Linear Algebra II will get really abstract and expectations to churn out proofs will kick up a notch. So in either case, I think going through Calculus I will prepare you for proofs needed there and in Calculus II, but will also help you immensely in proving stuff in the Linear Algebra courses, where proof techniques won't really be introduced as well as in Calculus.

So all in all, I don't really think you need Symbolic Logic for any of this, and I'd say it probably works the other way, that is, that the proof-based thinking you acquire in your Maths courses could help you in Philosophy ones. So if you find Symbolic Logic interesting, take it, but don't take it, because you think it will give you in advantage. As for evening classes, it's your schedule, you need to decide what you prefer, being done by 4 PM, or having a longer break in-between, and then having an evening class.
 
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  • #4
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...or should I attempt to have all my classes done by 4-5PM.
If you're commuting, then you should have your classes done by 4-5 pm.

ETS is incredibly aggravating outside peak service.
 
  • #5
My professor tells me that anything with "honors (name of math course- i.e. LA)" is a waste of time
Is there a big difference between honors and non honors?
 
  • #6
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My professor just tells me that it adds more unnecessary material, like I know my college has honors calc II which includes a little of calc III. But there is no honors calc III, so you do the same stuff again.
 
  • #7
My professor just tells me that it adds more unnecessary material, like I know my college has honors calc II which includes a little of calc III. But there is no honors calc III, so you do the same stuff again.
Does it raise you GPA like it does in high school?
 
  • #8
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You have very similar courses to the ones that I took in first year. I had both honours LA and Calc, and the same physics course basically. I didn't do very many proofs at all. I also took a philosophy course as my elective, and although it was the easiest thing I've ever done in my life, it was in general a waste of my time. I took a course called "Critical Thinking", and this involved no discussions whatsoever, and spoon fed me logical ways to think. I say you drop the philosophy course. It also keeps you at school late, so that might be a factor for you.

EDIT: Metaphysics sounds potentially badass.
 
  • #9
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You have very similar courses to the ones that I took in first year. I had both honours LA and Calc, and the same physics course basically. I didn't do very many proofs at all. I also took a philosophy course as my elective, and although it was the easiest thing I've ever done in my life, it was in general a waste of my time. I took a course called "Critical Thinking", and this involved no discussions whatsoever, and spoon fed me logical ways to think. I say you drop the philosophy course. It also keeps you at school late, so that might be a factor for you.

EDIT: Metaphysics sounds potentially badass.
Was that at the UofA? If yes, how many years ago was it, because I find it a bit strange that you're saying you didn't do many proofs at all.
My professor just tells me that it adds more unnecessary material, like I know my college has honors calc II which includes a little of calc III. But there is no honors calc III, so you do the same stuff again.
Either you're:

a) trolling in general,
b) making stuff up in this particular instance,
c) Honors Maths courses are weak at your particular university, or
d) your professor is making ridiculous statements.

How is learning how to prove stuff unnecessary material for people majoring in Maths that want to go on to grad school and eventually stay in academia? The definition of unnecessary is arbitrary as it is, but this is just ridiculous. Even for people going into Physics, Computer Science or Engineering, Honors courses do serve their purpose when done right.

I don't know, maybe ask mathwonk what he, as a Maths professor, thinks of Honors courses and their redundance.
 
  • #10
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I just generally assumed that students should be taking the honours stream courses if they are intending on going to graduate school? I suppose my assumption here was incorrect, although I am legitimately interested in learning for the sake of it, I don't want to overly tax myself in areas of math that I don't need to know. After all, I don't want to be a mathematician, I want to be a Physicist.

I've decided not to take Symbolic Logic and take an Econ 101 course with my friends, (easy A+).

Any more insight into the usefulness/redundancy of honours courses?
 
  • #11
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Was that at the UofA? If yes, how many years ago was it, because I find it a bit strange that you're saying you didn't do many proofs at all.Either you're:

a) trolling in general,
b) making stuff up in this particular instance,
c) Honors Maths courses are weak at your particular university, or
d) your professor is making ridiculous statements.

How is learning how to prove stuff unnecessary material for people majoring in Maths that want to go on to grad school and eventually stay in academia? The definition of unnecessary is arbitrary as it is, but this is just ridiculous. Even for people going into Physics, Computer Science or Engineering, Honors courses do serve their purpose when done right.

I don't know, maybe ask mathwonk what he, as a Maths professor, thinks of Honors courses and their redundance.
No I don't go to the University of Alberta. I go to Waterloo. It was Honours calculus for physics. And our OP is applying for a physics program.
 
  • #12
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No I don't go to the University of Alberta. I go to Waterloo. It was Honours calculus for physics. And our OP is applying for a physics program.
OK, I guess your experience of Honours Calculus in regards to proofs was different than what Oriako can expect at the University of Alberta then. And I realize he's going into Physics, but regular Calculus is just plug-and-chug, so I still fail to see how it is unnecessary or redundant going a bit deeper than that.
 
  • #13
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How is learning how to prove stuff unnecessary material for people majoring in Maths that want to go on to grad school and eventually stay in academia?
I think my professor means that it introduces material that isn't necessary at the moment, like I think the Calc II honors here introduces Green/Stroke's Theorem and multivariable limits (god those were a ***** to do...)
 
  • #14
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The things that denote honors courses vary from class to class and from school to school. Here, our honors calculus sequence is a much more proof-based, real math styled sequence. I skipped out of all the lower level math courses, but like pretty much all blanket statements, it doesn't apply to all situations. Honors courses generally tend to provide more of a challenge, which is usually a good thing for those who want to go into a challenging field.

The schedule looks fairly typical, though do they not put any restrictions on how many courses you can take your first semester? I know they did here, which I got around via an audit, but I feel like a lot of universities restrict the number you can have that first semester, and it's usually at 4.
 
  • #15
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OK, I guess your experience of Honours Calculus in regards to proofs was different than what Oriako can expect at the University of Alberta then. And I realize he's going into Physics, but regular Calculus is just plug-and-chug, so I still fail to see how it is unnecessary or redundant going a bit deeper than that.
Reading the blurb under what the course is about, there doesn't seem to be a proof intensive section. Its also sounds very similar to my first year calculus.

So I would have to say that the OP shouldn't expect many proofs at all.
 
  • #16
1,086
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Reading the blurb under what the course is about, there doesn't seem to be a proof intensive section. Its also sounds very similar to my first year calculus.

So I would have to say that the OP shouldn't expect many proofs at all.
Well, I'm actually doing or have done the courses he's going to take, so I wasn't just taking a random guess :wink:
 

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