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Is Trig a prerequisite for Differential Equations?

  1. Jan 30, 2012 #1
    Before taking Differential Equations/Linear Algebra in my first year of college, I am brushing up on Algebra I/II, Pre-Calculus, and Calculus I/II. Should I also run through Trigonometry as well or should I not waste my time on it if I don't have enough time to go through everything else first? What about Geometry?
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 30, 2012 #2
    Geometry is not needed, so don't waste your time with that.

    Refreshing trig is a good idea, but you won't need to refresh everything. Basically, you just need to be able to calculate integrals and derivatives in which trigonometric functions appear.
  4. Jan 30, 2012 #3
    For differential equations, this is true, but OP: If you're an engineering or physics major, take geometry. I kick myself every day for having to learn geometry while simultaneously struggling through physics. Also, I think an intuitive grasp of the trigonometric functions is handy, but I managed to survive much better without taking a full-on trig class than I did without taking a full-on geometry class.
  5. Jan 30, 2012 #4
    I add my recommendation to become really good at Integral Calculus.

    This includes learning as many trigonometric identities and tricks you probably were taught in Calculus II. This helped me the most for my ODEs/Linear Algebra course.

    Depending on how well your professor reviews Linear Algebra (of which you should have had a small taste in your College Algebra/High school math courses), you may or may not need to go back and review that material before getting into Linear Spaces and Eigenvectors (and all that other cool stuff I've since forgotten because I haven't used it regularly....and I took it only just this last spring!)

  6. Jan 30, 2012 #5


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    trigonometric functions are everywhere, it will make your life easier if you are familiar with their properties
  7. Jan 30, 2012 #6


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    I agree with Angry Citizen. If you plan to go into science or engineering, you really need well-developed visual thinking and geometry helps with that. Trig will pop up in those subjects very frequently.

    If learning math is like building a house, things like geometry and trig are your tools. It may be possible to build a house without a level or a hammer, but the house might end up looking weird.
  8. Jan 30, 2012 #7


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    Yep! Geometry and Trig are essential if you are headed into engineering. The concepts that you need to understand those will crop up over and over again. If you have aced those courses, it's still a good idea to review them before moving to more advanced mathematics. You'll need those basics time and time again.

    Listen to lisab. Her carpentry example is a pretty good one. You need to be well-founded in the basics to do well later.
  9. Jan 30, 2012 #8
    Sorry, I forgot to mention that my major is applied mathematics. I don't take any engineering or science courses. Does this make a difference?
  10. Jan 30, 2012 #9
    No. You still don't need geometry for diffy eq.

    But geometry and trig are very important in applied mathematics too. So studying it doesn't hurt.
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