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How to prepare for differential equations?

  1. May 4, 2016 #1
    I'm pretty rusty at calculus. I did well in them, but my memory is terrible and I have forgotten a lot.

    I'm going to take ordinary differential equations (it looks and sounds like an intro DE class with some linear algebra too) next spring. What should I study and what not to prepare for this class? Do you recommend any books?
  2. jcsd
  3. May 4, 2016 #2


    Staff: Mentor

    I would suggest making your Calculus less rusty. Take a look at the site:


    They have a large collection of 10 minute videos on Calculus topics.

    I'd start with Calculus I and work through them and get familiar with the derivative laws and also how to integrate as it will come in handy as you work DE topics.

    You could also start with the DE topics to get a headstart on your class and then fall back to Calculus topics as needed to fill in the gaps.
  4. May 4, 2016 #3
    As Jedishrfu has mentioned, revising the calculus content you covered is a good start. D.E's will come much easier to you if you aren't fiddling around trying to come to terms with calculus.

    Unless you have time, i wouldn't worry about trying study ahead for D.E's, at least, no technical studies. Getting an idea of what the topic is all about would be good though.
  5. May 5, 2016 #4
    I would get your DE text early to begin reading and working problems, and reference a calculus text when you need it.
  6. May 5, 2016 #5
    I have not studied differential equations myself, but a cheap book that is good for self study that I have seen recommended often is Ordinary Differential Equations by Morris Tennenbaum. It's a Dover reprint (very affordable!) and may serve as a good introduction and supplement for when you take the course.
  7. May 5, 2016 #6
    I wouldn't recommend this unless OP is confident with calculus, and just needs a refresher. If OP lacks understanding of some calc fundamentals, it'll be no good charging into D.E's. Just my opinion.
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