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How difficult is Topology for a pure Physics student?

  1. Jan 21, 2015 #1
    Hi, I'm hoping someone here can shed some light,

    I'm currently in my 3rd year of my Physics degree and have discovered I really dont have the mind to memorise / reproduce paragraphs of text. Even if I understand the concepts it takes me a LONG time for my brain to take text in. Maths however I find much easier and feel as though I understand it and can learn it with less effort.

    So to my question, I'm on track to do a Bionanophysics module in my final semester and thinking of changing it to topology. I have real trouble grasping biology and remembering everything. Topology sounds interesting and would be much preferred to learning any Biology. But how difficult is the subject? Obviously I have covered a lot of maths in my Physics module, but is it a topic that goes above and beyond?

    Thanks in advance for any input!
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 21, 2015 #2
    If you have the right background, then topology really shouldn't be that difficult. In fact, it's a really visual and intuitive piece of mathematics, and for that reasons it should really be fun for physics students.

    But on the other hand, topology is the generalization of certain mathematical things which you need to know first. Specifically, you need to be comfortable with epsilon-delta definitions of continuity and sequences. And it helps to be familiar with metric spaces. My advice to you is to self-study metric spaces so that you really have an intuitive feel for the concepts. There's quite a lot of terminology involved, but it's really important to have the concepts right. Self-studying metric spaces shouldn't take a lot of effort, there's not a lot you need to know anyway.
  4. Jan 21, 2015 #3
    Many thanks for the reply! I will take a look at metric spaces over the weekend, the course starts next week. There is just one thing however, I've looked at the past exam papers and it's the notation / symbols I have never seen before, such as the red circled question below:


    it looks completely foreign to me, is being unfamiliar with such notation a possible issue?

    thanks again
  5. Jan 21, 2015 #4
    Oh. That's not good. That's the language of set theory, which you will need to be very familiar with. It's absolutely fundamental. I recommend going through Kaplansky's "Set theory and metric spaces". It's a very short book. Doing chapter 1, 4 and 5 should prepare you adequately.
  6. Jan 21, 2015 #5
    And how comfortable are you with proofs? Does "proof by contradiction" mean anything to you?
  7. Jan 21, 2015 #6
    I will give it a go, perhaps this isnt the module for me but will certainly take a look.

    If by proofs you mean mathematical derivations then yes I'm very comfortable (from the Physics side). however I haven't heard of the term "proof by contradiction"

    appreciate the input!
  8. Jan 21, 2015 #7
    Oh, so you are entirely new to proofs! Hmm, taking topology is not a good idea then unless you're willing to spend quite some time filling up certain mathematical gaps. If you're thinking of taking topology next semester that starts now, I would have to recommend against that, since you need be very comfortable with proofs, logic and set theory. However, if you're willing to fill up the gaps, then topology really is a very nice subject.
  9. Jan 21, 2015 #8
    that's just what I needed, many thanks for your time!
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