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Linear algebra and differential equations advising

  1. Nov 26, 2015 #1
    Hey guys,
    I'm talking to my advisor soon and I was wondering if it is typical to, after taking multi variable calc, to take differential equations and linear algebra simultaneously? I'm going to have to be taking both modern physics and organic chemistry II as well, for context.
    Thanks everyone
  2. jcsd
  3. Nov 26, 2015 #2


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    Can you? Sure. Should you? I don't know enough about you to say, but if you feel comfortable, then do it. Honestly I recommend people take linear algebra before vector calculus.
  4. Nov 26, 2015 #3
    You will know better than us if you can do it. Consider this: you'll have 4 hard classes to take in one semester. Have you had 2 or 3 hard classes in one semester before? If so, do you feel you did well or not? I'm of the opinion if you do well with 3 hard classes, and still had ample time for your personal life, then 4 hard classes is manageable if you agree to lifestyle changes for yourself. However, if you did well with 3 but didn't have any time to yourself, then it's fair to say you probably shouldn't take 4. Instead of cutting into extra time for yourself, you'll be cutting within the time allotted between your classes instead. You would probably start to struggle when you have to sacrifice study time for one class in exchange for another even when both have an exam in a week. In which case you're figuring out what to strategically do worse on to do well in other things. That's when you know you have too much on your plate.
  5. Nov 26, 2015 #4


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    Used to be that some programs wanted students (physical sciences & engineering) to do single-variable calculus, and then multi-variable calculus, AND THEN a combination course of differential equations & linear algebra. The combination course came AFTER multivariable calculus.
  6. Nov 26, 2015 #5
    No, I would not do so. If you have fundamental gaps in your knowledge of Calculus 2, you may find during ODE, that you lack integration and Series. I would take Linear Algebra and Calculus 3 together. Some results in ODE, are easier to understand because of Linear Algebra.

    Although, typical of most ODE courses, only Calculus 2 is required to be successful. Now taking all 3 together, is complete suicide. If Linear Algebra is taught properly, it is no longer a plug and chug class, it is the first math class that makes you actually think and proof write.
  7. Nov 27, 2015 #6
    My impression is that the beginning course in differential equations usually only require the Calculus II as the course is focused on the techniques and problem-solving aspects of the ODE. I would take both linear algebra and multivariable calculus together. Since the concepts of LA are extensively used in the multivariable calculus, I think such combination will offer you an unique opportunity to see their interchangeability.
  8. Nov 27, 2015 #7
    I agree with the above posters. Linear algebra is really helpful in understanding both multivariable calculus and differential equations. So taking it together with calculus 3 should really be helpful to understand some concept better, even though it's not strictly necessary.
  9. Nov 27, 2015 #8
    I have taken all the classes you mentioned and aside from modern physics and personally, I would not take those for classes together. Some people can handle more than others and you know yourself more than anyone, so... Linear Algebra and diffQ aren't so hard, I took them together.
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