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Is it okay to not take math?

  1. Nov 11, 2012 #1
    I am a freshman in college and currently I am taking Calc II (equivalent of BC). I am doing fairly well in the class and planned on taking MV Calc next semester. However, this may be a problem because of scheduling conflicts. I was wondering if I need to retain much of what I learned in Calc II for MV or if I could get by taking MV next fall. I am a prospective CS major so I need to take up to linear algebra. Now I have never skipped a semester of math so I do not know how this will affect my retention. If anyone has experience not taking math for a semester or has suggestions, they would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!!
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 11, 2012 #2
    Uhm, I know you don't need to know calc to learn linear algebra. In my opinion, linear algebra is a lot easier than calc and you just need to have a solid algebra foundation.

    Differential Equations uses it all, on the other hand. In that short of a span, I doubt you would get too rusty anyways, as long as you got solid enough grasp in the first place.
     
  4. Nov 11, 2012 #3
    Thanks for the insight on linear algebra but I was looking for more on multivariable calc.
     
  5. Nov 12, 2012 #4
    Actually, I think multi-variable calculus is pretty helpful for linear algebra, although it isn't strictly a prerequisite. The reason is that in multi-variable calculus, you get a lot of practice with vectors, which are also a big deal in linear algebra. Things like dot product, cross product, finding normal vectors to a plane, equation of a plane. All that stuff is very good to have seen before if you are doing linear algebra.

    I actually had many semesters without math in my undergrad because I was doing EE (with CS minor) for a while, but I used calculus a lot in EE, so when I came back to math, I had only gotten better at everything, maybe forgetting some of the less important things. In CS, though, you typically wouldn't use very much of it, at least at the lower undergraduate level, so it would be somewhat different.

    As far as multi-variable calculus, I don't think you have to be a whiz with all the different integration techniques and have everything at your finger-tips. You just need to retain the core material of calculus. You don't want to forget how to differentiate or integrate x^2, but that shouldn't happen in one semester. The stuff that you need to remember is easy enough and you get enough practice with it that I don't think one semester of not using it would be much of an issue.

    As a general comment, though, I would say it's a worth asking the question of why you would work so hard to learn subjects if you are just going to turn around and forget 99% of them anyway. Reviewing is your friend. That is, if the material is important to you. You don't want to be spending all your time on maintenance of past material, either. I don't think there's an easy answer, but probably taking a middle road is best. It's not what you read that makes you learned--it is what you remember.
     
  6. Nov 13, 2012 #5
    So would it be better for me to overload second semester in order take Multivariable or skip math next semester and take MV in the fall??
     
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