- #1

guguma

- 51

- 5

This is the first time I am posting in Physics Forums, and I need guidance about a depressing matter that has been haunting me for years.

I am a physics major and I am about to go to graduate school, so far I managed to do pretty well on my career but I am experiencing a major problem. It is concerning mathematics and the use of mathematics in physics. Simply put I am terrible at math, or I see myself terrible but I am totally lost and do not know what to do about it. No matter what I have tried I could not fix this situation.

We both show and solve everything using mathematics, so perfecting mathematics is extremely important but I cannot do it well. I find myself very good at understanding general concepts and ideas and seeing the big puzzle and relations, but this does not mean anything if I cannot work my way out through even a simple problem.

Understanding a general concept is good but as the applications get more complex and as problems get more complex I simply get lost, especially when geometric situations are involved. I cannot see what a mathematical expression tels me about physical situation at hand and when I miss it, it is gone forever.

Sometimes it is a simple line integration, sometimes it is a differential equation involving dirac delta functions, sometimes it is an algebraic expression... I get lost easily, all those summations, transformations, gradients, curls, divergences, fields, waves, infinitesimal sections, coordinates, integrations involving these... when I come across them in a certain simple condition I am fine, but when the situation gets more complex I get totally lost.

Let me give you an example, there is a particular problem asking the energy stored in a certain length "l". It involves a volume integration of the square of the magnetic field and the surface integration of the cross product of the vector field and the magnetic field. It should be easy but I get stuck instantly Which Volume? Which Surface? is associated with each quantity...

As you can see I really fail at associating the physical condition at hand with the mathematical tool at hand. So I need to know what my problem is, and how to fix it.

So if anyone of you experienced trouble with mathematics and physics like this and managed to fix it or can guess what my problem is I would really appreciate your help. Maybe my books fail, maybe I need to practice, maybe I have to do some intensive study concentrating on specific topics, maybe I have to start anew from someplace...

As I said I will be going to a good grad school soon, and I prefer to spend my time doing my research and I do not want to get frustrated at every other step and coursework. To be able to enjoy my work on physics, I have to solve this problem.

Thanks in advance