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How much is enough practice?

  1. Feb 21, 2006 #1


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    How much is "enough" practice?

    I'm a second year EE major and just starting to get into intro to analog circuits, digital circuits/theory, and differential equations.

    I've decided to devote part of my time to strengthen my basics - basically do schaum's outlines/"3000 problems in [whatever]" for calculus, linear algebra, circuits, etc...

    The problem is, that approach takes time. A lot.

    And I know I'd be wasting my time doing applications of differentiation for hours considering I won't use it much - if at all - compared to integration and ODEs.
    \And there's the question of how far to go - for example: should I do BOTH Schaum's outline for Linear Algebra and Schaum's 300 solved problems in Linear Algebra? Should I go all the way back and even spend dozens of hours to go through 3000 pre-calculus problems? Or physics: E&M? Doing lots of problems there isn't a cake walk.

    There's the idea that if you're good enough, doing 100 problems should be very fast... but that's still a lot of time I could use to prepare for signals and systems maybe or do something else...

    Also, on a related note, plenty of the problems in texts and schaum's are just needlessly complex. I don't see them in tests and HW assignments at - or anything that looks like them. So I get the impression I'd be wasting time doing them.

    Anybody knows what I'm talking about... ? :smile:
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 22, 2006 #2

    I didn't know that the only use for learning something was to do well on HW and tests :wink: . What I'm saying is what does the Schaum's problems being more complicated have to do with their usefulness? You will learn more from more complicated problems. If you can do a hard problem, an easy problem should be easy.
  4. Feb 22, 2006 #3
    What are Schaum's problems? If they'll help me in my pre-calc years rightn ow they might be worthy a looksee.
  5. Feb 22, 2006 #4


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    Staff: Mentor

    I wouldn't recommend spending time on practicing those basics. You'll get plenty of practice working your upper division problems. A better thing to spend your discretionary time on, IMO, would be to look ahead and start learning your upcoming subjects, or even branch out some. Like, you could get the textbook for your upcoming DSP classes, and start learning that. The book on Designing Digital Filters by Williams is very good, and makes a good self-study of a number of EE/filtering/DSP subjects. You can also look ahead and start studying Linear Systems subjects, since you will spend a *lot* of time working with those concepts over the next few years.

    If you really want to do some review practice work, just do the last few (hardest) problems in each section in your old textbooks for fun. And find some similar books in the library sometime, and work the last/hardest problems in those. I wouldn't dedicate time to doing the Schaams outline problems at this point. Again, just my opinion (from looking back over a successful college career and 20+ years in industry since then as an EE).
  6. Feb 22, 2006 #5


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    Staff: Mentor

    The [URL [Broken] Outline Series[/url] are basically review-type books with huge selections of problems to work out.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 2, 2017
  7. Feb 22, 2006 #6
    Difficulty wise, EE > ME or ME > EE?

    or at least as far as advanced courses go?
  8. Feb 22, 2006 #7


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    Staff: Mentor

    I only knew a few MEs in school, and I've only worked with a few in industry. It would depend on the specialty and depth of study, of course, but I think in general E>M for most of the math and applications. Look at what each builds when they are at their best, and you will see what the depth of math and difficulty is. It takes a lot to design and build a reliable skyscraper or bridge, but IMO it takes a lot harder math and more of it to design a CDMA cell phone network from the core E&M up to the network back end. The math behind communication theory, E&M theory, complex computation, etc. is pretty significant. On the other hand, the math behind flow dynamics in engine design is probably pretty hard too, so again it depends on what you are working on.

    BTW, I'd also put Physics ahead of both EE and ME in difficulty (despite the fact that I chose to stay with EE for monetary reasons). So if you like the hard mathematical problems, Physics might be the best....:!!)
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