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Math in E&M

  1. Jan 15, 2005 #1
    Hey everyone,
    This term I'm enrolled in E&M which is a subject I've never formally learned anything in but I've loved for years and gained a lot of practical knowledge in (I'm a Ham radio junkie). Now I'm one week into the course and I really like it but there's one problem that needs to be taken care of ASAP. I'm enrolled in calc II this term (which is a corequisite) but the E&M prof seems to be under the distinct impression that the math ability in the class is a lot further then that. Not very complicatedly I'm told, but I and many of my fellow classmates have just never reached some things he's used for proofs etc in math class yet.
    So I'm not going to let something like this get in my way of learning what I want to learn (can't drop it and wait a term as I'm an astronomy/physics major). Right now I've figured the best thing would be to learn ahead a bit in math so I will be familiar with the mathematical bits much better. I've learned a lot of math on my own and have a few friends further ahead in math then me willing to help out but I don't know what's most worth my time to study.
    So in short what are the most crucial mathematical concepts you need to know in a basic E&M course? Because I don't want to suddenly discover before a test that I flat out don't know how to do something mathematically; I'm sure the class will be challenging enough without that! Thanks.
     
  2. jcsd
  3. Jan 15, 2005 #2

    Dr Transport

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    If you do not have a working knowledge of intgral and diffential calculus, you'll have problems in E&M. I was in the same boat as you are, I didn't have enough calculus when I took my first E&M course out of Halliday and Resnik and nearly flunked it. I was able to learn enough to pass, but just barely.
     
  4. Jan 15, 2005 #3

    cepheid

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    E&M is vector calculus
     
  5. Jan 15, 2005 #4
    yeah, it's stuff taught mainly toward the end of calc 3. there are also courses entirely devoted to vector calc.
     
  6. Jan 15, 2005 #5

    cronxeh

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    yeah.. generally you should have a working knowledge of multivariable calculus for line, surface integrals and such, but in undergrad class there is usually a watered down version with simple cases, etc, but still -I should have completed calculus 2 BEFORE beginning physics 2 - i think you might have a problem with it towards the end when they do EM waves, flux, and circuit analysis
     
  7. Jan 15, 2005 #6

    Dr Transport

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    Last time I looked at Halliday and Resnik, they used integral calculus to calculate the electric field, magnetic field, scalar and vector potentials etc.......
     
  8. Jan 16, 2005 #7
    Well I have to do E&M this term if I am to graduate in 4 years so I guess there's not much I can do there. However we do vector calculus at the end of this term and have already done a heck of a lot of integration. I've also asked around and apparently students who are in calc 2 are alright in the class all told. That makes me feel a little better.
    Oh, and for the record, we're using Halliday and Resnik's physics book this term if anyone's interested.
     
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